Social Things_03 ↓ First Prototype

The advantage of this classe’s fast-paced schedule despite the irony of my Slow theme, is that even though I feel – and might certainly be right, that I’m ideating without any clear plans, I still have to get something out there.

If I don’t want to be literal – aka not doing anything with the phone and the notion of time, how would my object be possibly referring to the Slow Movement? Isn’t it why examples found are that literal?

No more doubts, here goes my first prototype! Lead by my contextual and knowledge research, I finally opted for a meditation device. The value of mindfulness advocated by the Slow Movement isn’t far-fetched from spirituality after all; I did find in my ethnographic research that some of my interviewees had activities such as meditation, others were into walking or biking. It depends but you got the idea: any mind-free activity.

For that, I assembled a DIY GRS sensor – aka taping down (2) wires to foil using Velcro, reacting to a LED with three states: NONE light when it isn’t used, GREEN when the person’s stress level is detected as normal, and RED when the person is presumably stressed. It won’t certainly work as such but I tried to convey my main idea at this moment: an object gaining its meaningfulness solely by the input of its user, else utterly useless.

Wiring: First, I followed Adafruit’s RGB LED tutorial. Then for the GRS part, I connected one of its two wires to ground through the breadboard and the other one to an analog pin through a 330Ω resistor on the breadboard.

Code: It’s super simple – read pins outputs and set LED colors with if variables ↓↓↓

const int redPin = 8;
const int greenPin = 9;
const int bluePin = 10;
const int GSR = A0;
int sensorValue;
boolean ledState = LOW;

void setup() {
pinMode(redPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(greenPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(bluePin, OUTPUT);

void setColor (int red, int green, int blue) {
analogWrite(redPin, 255 - red);
analogWrite(greenPin, 255 - green);
analogWrite(bluePin, 255 - blue);

void loop() {
sensorValue = analogRead(GSR);
Serial.print("sensorValue = ");
if (sensorValue > 0) {
setColor(255, 0, 0);
if (sensorValue > 5) {
Serial.println("Slow Down!");
setColor(0, 255, 0);
if (sensorValue > 10) {
Serial.println("Too High!");
setColor(0, 0, 255);
digitalWrite(redPin, ledState);
digitalWrite(greenPin, ledState);
digitalWrite(bluePin, ledState);

I don’t think my object should be thought around utility, but I feel it lacks both character and content in its meditative aspect. You don’t need such a device to meditate, after all.

Well, I did found a project by KP Kaiser that makes it somewhat useful; read his blog posts here and there. He used others sensors from GRS such as Heart Rate and Skin Temperature, making it actually track your meditation level and linked it to an app. It’s pretty high-tech; and for these sensors to fully work, it’s better for the user to actually wear them.

From now, I’m thinking I might take a low-tech approach in order to focus solely on the (inter)action. I don’t want the user to wear any sensors but to actually uses them. I might have an idea while iterating the prototyping, hence I just borrowed others sensors to try them out – let’s see how it goes.

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