An RCA design collaboration
Facing the Music:
Well well well.. Gateways 3 was a total turn down. The tutors heavily objected our idea by saying that our conceptual space was un-original and that we had failed to provide sufficient support that there was a “real” need for such a form of communication.
We tried to defend our ideas by explaining our rational that we were trying to reinvent communication and that we were only trying to fill in a tiny gap that is missing from today’s communication. We also explained that this is an experimental project and therefore, it is hard to justify whether or not there is a guaranteed need for it.
conclusion: Concept needed to be user inspired and a resubmission was required.
So the chipmonks put their heads together and set off the streets of south kensington to ask people what they felt about communication today.
These conversations really made us question whether or not our initial target group (loved ones) was good or not. We realize that people are now connected to many layers of groups and networks more than ever before. So maybe we needed to stretch our focus from just loved ones to people’s close group of contacts with whom they’re likely to communicate with the most.
We still want to try and make communication more tangible and engaging in some way. We want to bring back the qualities like personalization, unexpectedness, engagement etc. into todays communication. Also how can we allow people to take a break from the screens once in a while? This called for another brainstorm..
How can we communicate the way we do through a postcard but differently and more conveniently?
This brought out some interesting inspirations… How about sending a message through a foggy mirror or witting behind a toilet door or drawing in the snow on windshield or drawing on the sand on a beach..
These were great, but how can we manage this… ?
I guess we’ll soon find out :))
With the help from an electronics expert at the Imperial College, we were able to amply our infra-red signals to an extent where we could now detect heartbeat without having to touch the sensors directly! Big step!
The sensitivity on the sensors still needs to be adjusted everytime a different person tries to use the device, obviously this needs to be improved severely, however, everytime SLY uses the device (the glass dome) we can detect his pulse.
trying with Peter,
sensors hooked up with the amplifier circuit,
We made the first prototype and asked people to try it out. Mo also used it with Alifia for two days.
We obtained some really good feed back about the interaction and the form etc. One important thing we realized is that communication is really rich and a lot about personalization, which the prototype didn’t yet offer. After some brainstorming we decided to include an additional functionality in our device which is to have a stroke or draw feature. Simply touch, stroke or draw buy touching the surface on one device and the other would bring it to life. Along with personalization, the idea was also to bring in the dimensionality of real time and spatial orientation in live communication.
This would be achieved by using infrared light sensors and displayed with led lights on the receiving end.
The sensors :
How to bring heartbeat to life?
We tried to work from light, sound and vibration.
Light includes different intensity, color, arrangement and the Raytheon to express the heartbeat.
We cut a glass bottle and sandblasted the bottom part to quickly prototype and test it.
And a really quick video of the light rythem.
because the loudspeaker has to be connect to the arduino derectly. We need to build our own
sound card. So we build this simplest sound card which is a R-ledder.
So now let’s plug and try!
Have to say, it’s still a bit far from what we want, but we are working on that.
In order to get the best heart beat representation, we wanted to include a sensory feature so that people may experience the heartbeat in addition to seeing it. For this we chose small sized harmon karden speakers salvaged from a mini-mac.
The speakers provide excellent bass and hence a very heart like beat when felt with a hand.
Time seems to be slipping by really quickly. Our project has now reached a major milestone in terms of the larger level conceptual and experimental space. The heart beats bring out a new level of emotionality and poetry when it comes to communication.
Our Target Group: We would like to focus on a very passive form of communication between couples, long distance partners or loved ones; parents and children.
Our Objective: To bring a fresh form of communicative interface that is more subtle, meaningful, emotional and possibly passive between two loved ones. The goal of this tangible communication interface would be to help relieve stress, loneliness and sadness for the people who engage with it.
What is this interface and what does it do? We are currently experimenting on forms as well as building various usage scenarios which will enable us to identify one or more archetypes that work these highly emotive two party interactions. The devices effectively detect the users heartbeat and will relay this to the other person over the internet. The communication is passive and non-disruptive hence allowing to connect to their loved ones just by touching the device without having to distract themselves from their primary activity.
What is new and innovative about this project?
Heart beats have been primarily used in healthcare and sports/fitness applications. Conventionally the data is mostly visualised as numbers and low quality graphics which makes this really meaningful and human attribute (i.e. heart beat) very inhuman. We are aiming to bring heartbeats out of these conventional and specialized application areas into a more domestic and everyday environment. We are aiming to use heartbeats to provide comfort and well-being in a very discrete manner.
prototype building and testing
We quickly build up a pair of prototype for testing in order to understanding the interaction and get insights from the users.
We have now had our 2nd gateway (mid-term progress report) and had some positive feedback from our tutors. Our project has evolved a lot since before Gateway2. The we were able to establish our new “view point” which was to take sub-conscious activities (eg. gestures, blinking, galvanic skin responses, heartbeats, temperature changes etc.) and use them to create fresh interactions. In a sense our project is now geared towards biofeedback and its potential applications in helping address a real need.
We have effectively stepped out of the realm of pure exploratory experimentation!
Our initial experiments related to heart beat detection made us “fall in love” with heart beats. We have now established that we will pursue heartbeats and create interactions that will help people benefit from this very personal and emotional attribute. We were able to successfully detect heart beats through a touch based interface and plan to use this type of interface for the final project piece. At the moment we are exploring “STRESS” and how bio feedback (more specifically heartbeats) can be brought to life in order to reduce stress in different scenarios.
Our ambition is not produce another healthcare monitoring device, which is typically the case when it comes to bio feedback such as heart rates etc. We are interested in well-being of people but we are not limiting ourselves to just that;
We Would like to design an object that combines well-being, emotions and communication.
Our immediate goals now are to build some prototypes of such an object and test them in real scenarios. We will present the results of these “real” experiments in Gateway3. Meanwhile we will be researching stress, doing rigorous form finding exercises and scenario build-ups.