Building the initial prototype

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We started building an initial prototype for our wearable project. It really helped to understand the direction of our project after having something physical. The first thing we did was make sure we could get a working circuit. We met with Joe Mango who’s also doing a wearable interactive music project and helped us understand more about wires and sensors that are useful. We first got a circuit working with a flex sensor and two switches.

Once the circuit was good, we moved over to some fabrication. We started with a piece of muslin I found in the soft lab. I draped it over the mannequin and simple marked where arm holes could be. Then I cut out arm holes. I had this “amazing” idea to separate the piece into parts of a vest and sleeves. The vest would be for the placement of the microcontroller, whereas the sleeves would be where all the sensors would go.

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Once the vest part was made, I sewed in an enclosure in the back for the microcontroller to sit during prototyping.

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Since we had one mock sleeve with a flex sensor, we made another sleeve that would enclose the other flex sensor in order to simulate two flex sensors, one on each arm.

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The next step in the prototype was to add sleeves. I did this by cutting the sleeves off a shirt and then sewing them onto the vest.

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Reflection on Reading

“Interaction is a way of framing the relationship between people and objects designed for them—and thus a way of framing the activity of design.” This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this semester, as I am taking another class about physical interaction design. I see this as describing the process of how what we design affects and creates our choreography. In that the affordances of an object dictate our relationship with it. Taking this idea even further, my overall take away from this article is the dialogue between a human and a object is the essential part of the interaction. I see this especially with the example of the interaction between a human and a computer. The human gives the input and the computer gives the output. But is that where the interaction ends? It seems the most meaningful way in relation to what we’re trying to do in this class, is to create a continuous dialogue between the user and the object itself.

Week 3: Random!

Javascript, music, what? This is one of my more challenging classes. From the music theory to the coding, it’s hard to even understand what I find more difficult.

For this week’s assignment we were asked to apply a random process to our notes by using what we learned in class about probability and Markov Chord.  I can definitely see a progression from the previous assignment in terms of my understanding of both the music aspect, and ToneJs/Javascript. I got a little bit more comfortable with my CSS skills, too.

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How it was a made: 

There are three boxes, a black, a pink, and green. The black and green play music when pressed, while the pink is merely apart of the visual. There is also 3 sounds that are playing at random, which were made using Markov Chord. I set the probability of each note for 8 beats and then multiplied that by 8 to make that loop play 64 beats.

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Since I have been only using wav samples, I wanted to try to play something with notes on the synth. I created a div, which is the black button, and when pressed plays plays notes at random using the Markov Chain probability.

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The final part, the green button, when pressed plays 3 other wav samples from the same song I used for the pink button, which is also the same sound I used for my previous work–“Aguas de Marco” by Tom Jobim and Elis Regina.

This one is played similarly to the looped background noise. What is different about this one, is that because the notes are retriggered, the more the button is pressed, the louder the sound gets. This allows for a more unique interactive music experience than my previous work.

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Listen below!

Check out my code!

 

 

App update: local storage, color scheme, functions

This past week I made some nice updates to my app, which I’m really satisfied with. The more I work and it comes together, the more ideas I have for design changes. I started playing with the colors using the steam roller on JQuery mobile, which was super easy once I understand how to implement it in my code. I’m still playing with color schemes, but happy since it’s starting to shape up the actual look of the app.

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My goal this week was to store the words and translations from the first page to the second page, which is the dictionary. Shawn had told me in office hours last week that I would need to use localStorage and to follow the examples on the class site. This was much more challenging than I had anticipating. I ended up writing two functions, one to save the words and translations to the local storage, and then another to show it in the dictionary. This took me about 3 hours. Ah, coding!

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Once I was able to figure out local storage, I went to sleep for as long as possible. My next step was to make the dictionary page a little more visually appealing. Thankfully, JQuery Mobile is like magic to add ordered lists and a filter.

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Week 3: Objects and their lives

My project idea for what I want to produce this semester in Wearables has changed yet again. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to do something with movement, which has stemmed from my belief that people learn more effectively through movements. As a teacher I would always warm my students up by teaching them the “Electric Slide”. Many think this a joke of some kind, or even something fun I would do with my students, but really, it was a critical component of how I structured my classes and each lesson. Through ITP, I am exploring how to design things that make people move more, while engaging them in an experience.

Accessible and private are two words I use to describe a lot of my ideas and projects. This is a key reason why I want to explore wearable technology. I want to create a wearable that is accessible for anyone, but also provides a private experience, and can be smoothly integrated into everyday life.

Lindsey and I will be working together for this project. Our goal is to make a wearable shirt that encourages and gives feedback of movements.

The shirt will have sensors, likely fabric bend sensors in the shoulders of the shirt that are mapped to sounds via BLE to a mobile phone.

Below is a sketch of the type of movements that a user could do to produce sounds.

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Why?

With this wearable, we will be exploring how to encourage people to move with the pleasurable feedback of sound. This will in turn help users become more aware of their bodies and body movements.

Who?

People who are interested in understanding their body movements. This is an everyday wearable, meaning that we are not making this as a performance component. A person can wear this shirt in their own time to receive feedback that can be private or shared.

What?

A shirt with bend/flex sensors woven into the shoulders that sends data to a mobile device BLE.

How?

We’re still exploring fabrics for the shirt itself, but it will be made out of a stretchy and durable material.

Here is a mood/inspiration board:

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  1. What is the purpose of the artifact you are designing?

The purpose is to encourage body movement by having pleasant musical feedback. If people are incentivized by music, will they move more? This artifact will help to recreate the perception of our bodies when it’s seen as a tool to create what we hear. Listening to music is typically a passive experience with dancing as a result of the music. We are going to explore how one’s body moves if the movement, or “dance” comes first.

  1. Why does it exist?

Music is powerful in my ways. It can excite us, or calm us down. It even can help us remember, according to Michael Rossato-Bennett’s film, “Still Alive” that documents how music improves the lives of people with dementia. This would help music become more accessible, as it would essentially be apart of your body. Another important element of this object is that it would encourage people to move. With the evolution of technology, people are more sedentary than ever. According to James A. Levine, an obesity specialist at Mayo Clinic, “It’s the disease of our time. Any extended sitting can be harmful” (www.lifespanfitness.com).

  1. What will it DO? (How will it do it – but you can only answer this if you are clear about the rest of the answers)

As a person moves it will play parts of a song, or notes from a song, enabling a person to interact and recreate music with their bodies. It will have flex sensors in the shoulders of the shirt, which will be mapped to different samples of a song or notes. Each movement will have a corresponding sound.

  1. How does it work? Step-by-step – (you open a box, a drawer, you plug it in, you charge it, you press on a button to activate it or it is always on… etc
  • Put on the shirt.
  • Connect your phone using App via BLE to activate connection
  • Move and listen for music feedback 
  1. Why would someone want to use it? What do you add to their life? Remember that value is shared, applied based on some sort of value system onto objects. So think about communication, and shared values.

Humans love music. It can be personalized to fit their emotions, taste, or activity. We love alone through our headphones, or at large events with amplified sound. When we listen to music we tend to move, but not everyone is comfortable with dancing or using their body to express their feelings. This wearable would combine an interactive experience with music, in which a person has control of what their hearing, the natural impulse to move, with the encouragement to use their body as a tool to personalize their musical experience. It can be a shared experience as well either with a performance or by two people creating a music with together.

  1. What is your anchor?

The key idea is that we love music and need to move more. With this wearable the movement controls the music, rather than the other way. It gives people the chance to express how they want to interact with the music they hear through their bodies.

  1. Describe in 1 paragraph your project

We will be creating a shirt that has flex or bend sensors in the shoulders. In possible later iterations, we will have sensors in the elbows and wrists. The sensors will be mapped to sounds of music programmed in a mobile device via BLE. Our main demographic of users people interested in increasing their awareness of their body movements and encouraging those to move more.

Next steps:

-Explore different bend and flex sensors

http://stretchsense.com/

http://www.bebopsensors.com/

-Create soft bend sensors

http://www.instructables.com/id/Fabric-bend-sensor/

-Exploring and research movements

-Research and understand stretching limitations

-Explore different elements of sounds, i.e, will the pitch or tempo change by movement?

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM0MJBnLENA

https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/hackers-in-residence—sound-and-motion-reactivity-for-wearables

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/376537646/remidi-first-wearable-instrument-to-record-play-an?ref=category

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/11/moff/

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-power-of-music-mind-control-by-rhythmic-sound/

http://www.bendlabs.com/

Reflection on readings

Again I am drawn to this new perspective that textiles are technology. Although we went over this in the first week, I’m still so fascinated and inspired by this. This quote from “The Hand-Helds” put everything into a clear site, “The device on which you’re reading this essay is technology, but so is whatever you’re wearing” (Chaplin). In some ways this is a lesson on gratitude and simplicity. There is so much technology everywhere, and some of the most successful pieces of technology have become so seamlessly integrated into our lives that their innovation is overlooked. Through wearable technology we have the choice to design things that are obtrusive or unobtrusive to our lives. That choice alone impacts so much on my thinking, in that it shows how powerful wearables can be.

Week 2: Notes realization

Notes realization

For this week’s assignment of realizing notes, I took a different turn than what I presented last week. I wasn’t too happy with the notes I selected, and I knew I wanted to make some sort of compilation of a Bossa Nova song, a genre of Brazilian music. I have been trying to learn one of my favorite Brazilian songs, Aguas de Marco, a song sung by Tom Jobim and Elis Regina.

What I did was take snippets of the instruments and then a few seconds of the singers voices. I visually represented it with a blank canvas and black shapes.

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Week 3: bringing app to life + jQuery mobile

This week was fairly challenging for me and it’s clear now more than ever that I have a lot of studying to do with HTML, CSS, Javascript, and jQuery. After being able to sculpt out some of the app, I decided to re-design the UI wireframes. The app is much simpler than before and I think the navigation is much clearer.

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Below are the screenshots of my current progress. It is 4 pages with a navigation bar on each page to tell you where you are. What I’m trying to do next is save the words entered on the first page to an array on the second page, which is the dictionary.  Although I have an idea about how to do this, I’m still having issues getting it done.

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Week 2: app concept, design, wireframes

My main objective for this semester is to build an app that is super simple and allows me to focus more on the coding than a complicated concept. In order to do this I thought about what I would really want. Lately, I’m trying to spend more of my “mobile time” on apps that help organize my life. I have been trying to spend more time on apps like Wunderlist, making lists and using my phone in a more effective and meaningful way. I wanted to make an app that would be simple to make, but useful and that I could build on throughout and after the semester.

App concept:

This app is to help someone learning a new language organize the new vocabulary they are learning. It is not to define words. Its sole purpose to give someone who is on the go have an easy, accessible way of recording the new words they have encountered. It’s a very common practice for a language learner to keep a notebook with new words/phrases, but it’s difficult to always remember to bring your language notebook. Especially if you are out with your friends or family.

Audience:

Someone learning a new language who doesn’t have time to carry or remember to carry a notebook with everything they learn throughout a given day. It’s someone who’s serious about language learning, but needs a consistent place to keep track of all of the new words they’ve heard, or encounter.

Use cases:

Graduate student is studying full-time, but still wants to learn a new language on the side for a distinct purpose, i.e traveling, or for the practice of learning.

Teenager is interested in a different culture and wants to learn a new language to understand the culture better. Paper is so last year. But their phone is always there.

Professional adult works full-time, in addition to having a family or a very serious social life. They don’t have the time or space to carry a notebook to record the words they want to learn and use in their target language.

User scenarios:

Luis is originally from Colombia and is  a full-time graduate student at NYU. Although he speaks English proficiently, he has been learning a lot of English slang words and phrases. His American friends are constantly saying words he doesn’t commonly use, but wants to in order to sound more natural. He doesn’t have time or money to take English lessons, nor does he have the space in his backpack to carry another notebook specifically for English.

Angela love Japanese Anime and would love to travel to Japan after she graduates from high school. She has a full-time school schedule, plus extra-curricular activities. She’s constantly writing new Japanese words in her various notebooks, and even on random napkins. She would love a single place to put all of the Japanese words she hears during her Anime shows that doesn’t make her think any more than required.

Jeff is a marketing director at a start-up. He spends more time at work than at home, but has an upcoming trip to Brazil to celebrate Carnaval. He wants to be able to relax and socialize with the locals without having to look everything up in a dictionary. He takes a Portuguese class once a week, but never remembers to bring his Portuguese notebook to work, and therefore doesn’t spend enough time studying throughout the week.

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Apps I like:

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I am huge fan of the Foursquare app (can’t deny it). It’s so easy to navigate and I love how it creepily always knows where I am.

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Wunderlist, which I spoke about earlier, is a great app. So simple, clear, and useful. The design isn’t overwhelming. Even the choice of green is calming.

Week 2: design, wearability, and the human body

After class on Monday I thought more about what I wanted to achieve in this class. Despina talked a lot about the design process and everything that goes into a design. What stuck out the most, is something I’ve tried to stay true to even before ITP, and that is making something meaningful.

Right before this semester started, almost a week exactly to the first day of Wearables, I found out via a group chat with my dad and three siblings that my grandma was in the hospital. This is a difficult thing to hear when someone you’re close with, who is far away, is sick or hurt. The morning before my mom had taken my grandma to her favorite place in the entire world, her beauty shop, that she’s been going to for 20+ years, in the southeast side of Chicago, two blocks away from the apartment she lived in for 50 years. That night, looking fabulous as ever, she slid, yes, slid, out of her wheelchair and broke her femur bone. That is one, if not the largest bone in our body. And it cracked like stale piece of bread. She didn’t fall, she wasn’t trying to do anything out of her physical capability. The material of her pants was too smooth against the wheelchair seat, and she wasn’t able to stop herself. Since the break was so large, she had to get surgery. The issue is that is 91, but everything looked safe enough for her to proceed, and they did the surgery in order to implant a metal rod into her leg. She thankfully survived the surgery, but the recovery she is now in, is gruesomely painful.

It really makes you think about your health. Your bones. We have bones and sometimes we break them, but we rarely talk about them until we are older. Bone health isn’t something we discuss on a daily basis, yet it becomes a huge part of lives as we grow into a later age. We are told to drink our milk as children, and then our bones are put on the back burner. Another thing is circulation, something that could affect so many other parts of our day to day health.

With all of this said, I am inspired to create a pair of pants that create vibration when a person is sitting. How this would be made is creating a soft button that would be sewn in the seated part of the pants. When a person sits, it would activate the vibration sensors. The sensors would be placed in sewn in pouches in 4 parts of the pants–the left thigh, right thigh, left ankle, right ankle. The vibration sensors would then turn out for a timed period in intervals while seated.

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Problem/opportunity: to create circulation throughout the legs and improve bone health.

Target user: a person who spends most of their times seated, due to old age, injury, etc.

Questions/Issues:

Would there be a way to turn off the vibrations for a person who spends more than 90% seated?

How can the vibration sensors be connected to the soft button, and allow them to be changed out if necessary?

Why vibration?

Vibration is seen (or felt) in many wearables today. It is something that has become a way for us to receive information in a more personal way, i.e. getting a text from a vibrating phone. We also see benefits in vibration with things like teeth cleaning, and even massage chairs. But this concept is more about vibration as a means of therapy and improving one’s life.

According to this article in Hypervibe, these are 5 reason vibration is good for elderly people:

Benefits of vibration exercises
1. Vibration exercises decrease the risk of falls and improve balance
2. Whole body vibration improves endurance and body composition
3. Exercising on a vibration machine helps with lower pain
4. Whole body vibration exercises improve speed of motion in older women
5. WBV reduces arterial stiffness in the middle-aged and elderly
These are amazing benefits for elderly, especially that 67% of elderly people are sedentary for more than 8.5 hours a day (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3881132/).
This project below was done by Smart Textile Services (CRISP), which is a wearable sweater that has vibrations embedded into the fabric. The vibrations are triggered with touch. (http://dqi.id.tue.nl/sts/vibe-ing/nggallery/page/2/; http://fashioningtech.com/profiles/blogs/wearable-tech-for-vibration-therapy).
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This shows that people are becoming more aware of the benefits of vibration therapy. If wearables are starting to be developed for people recovering from injuries and bone loss, then I believe this is a great opportunity to approach this idea from the perspective aiming at elderly people.
Current wearables for the elderly
There are many wearables created for wearables, and also many startups that are popping up with the elderly as their main focus http://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?articleId=1709602
http://technical.ly/baltimore/2015/09/14/7-startups-helping-seniors/

The wearables now that are aimed at seniors are mostly hardware, e.g. watching necklaces, etc. These tend to track data for fall risk, monitor their daily activities for a loved one to track, or help organize a senior’s life.  This issue with these is they can be stigmatizing for elderly people. Many don’t want to bring more attention that their lives are less independent and they constantly need someone to look after them.

In particular, my grandma even though she is 91 and hasn’t had a car in almost 10 years, she still talks about how she wants to just go for a drive. It seems she is almost disappointed in her state that her daughter and grandchildren do everything for her, when she did everything for them. This is why I want to create something that isn’t obtrusive and also is something that could help her feel more in control. If I use BLE to control the vibration sensors, then she could set the vibration cycles to her liking.

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Reading reflection:

All three readings were very helpful in forming my idea for my project. I was very surprised by the reading, “Design for Life”–as someone who has only began thinking about design since beginning ITP, I find it really fascinating that biomimicry isn’t about designing for humans, but about using nature to help us understand how to design things we need. We want to design things that will last and have the promise to be natural additions to our lives. This is something I find very interesting about wearable technology in general. Only in the short time of this course, my perspective of wearables has changed significantly. Wearables seem to be more about how to design and create things that help us improve our lives without making something intrusive and overwhelming.

In “Designing for Wearability” I found it helpful to start considering all of the components that go into designing a wearable. Weight and size are two things I hadn’t considered much in the design of my project, and are especially important to consider. I think I will need to do a lot of user testing to ensure the vibration sensor vibrate in the same capacity on different body sizes.

I have mixed emotions from the article, “Why the Human Body will be the Next Computer Interface”– I do believe that wearable technology allows us the opportunity to use the human body as its own medium. I know that Kate Hartman talks a lot about this in a more art-based perspective, which I find interesting and something I had never considered. However the perspective of Fjords took it a little bit out of my imagination. And it’s funny to me that I’m having this reaction the reading, because I often think about how our phones will eventually be apart of us. But I guess I’ve always thought of it in a Jetsons kind of, this won’t actually happen in the time I’m living in. And now from the reading, it kind of makes sense with the progression of computers. Not sure how I feel about it. I guess my question is how do we design this that creates more movement in people’s everyday lives. With embedded interaction, it basically means we are embodying our mobile devices in our mobile bodies. How do we create external environments that encourage or force us to move more than just a small swipe, or moving our fingers to press keys?

Weave a circuit (part 2):

I re-did my assignment from last week and am much happier with the result. This time around I only used the felt fabric to make the soft button and sewed the circuit on muslin. I also made the ground line much longer than the power, which I think helped.

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Class 1 reflections: karate, dance, yoga

I am very excited to be in Muscle. Not only is it a great complement to my other courses this semesters, it fits perfectly in my personal ideas about design and experiences. As someone interested in how we learn, I’m looking forward to understanding more about the body and how it moves, as well as incorporating more physicality in projects.
I absolutely loved learning a bit of Karate with Hub. I think I told everyone I talked to the past week about it, as it proved how much movement creates positivity and encourages learning.
Over the weekend, I met with a friend who recently broke her hand in a skiing accident. Although, she’s not super  happy to be out of commission from the slopes, she believes that she is lucky to only have broken her hand. She had a fairly aggressive fall down a mountain, and said she believes it wasn’t worse because she exercises frequently. I thought it fit nicely with our discussion last week in discussing the importance of movement.
Reading: What I found most interesting about the reading “Where the Action Is” is talking about the progression of the computer as a communication device between humans and the computer itself. In looking at the progression from electrical to graphical, the interaction became much more of a dialogue. I have never studied HCI—this along with my other class, Always on, Always Connected has got me thinking a lot about our relationships with machines. Instead of learning how the machines can help us communicate, it’s almost as if we are learning more how to interact with a computer.

Notes

This week we were asked to collect 2-5 notes that we will use over the course of the semester. I am not very musically inclined, but I wanted to choose sounds that evoked a feeling you get when you listen to jazz.

The three notes I chose are all slightly different. I searched for awhile to find notes that could compliment each other.

-Bongo

-Saxophone

-Tamborine

I’m not 100% satisfied with them at the moment. At this point I like them better individually then I do when together. In order to get the notes I want, I am changing my perspective in the experience I want a user to have. One thing I want to do is cut the saxophone, which is now 41 seconds, to smaller parts, that way a user can have more control, and ultimately more fun in working with the notes.