Critical Making Notebook

INF2241 weekly notebook by Katie, Nazia and Emily.

The Final Project

For our final project, we created a Theremin using the Arduino. We wanted to create a technology that was able to interact with the user and create an identity. In our project, the Arduino with the addition of a distance sensor and a speaker became an instrument for a musician. It displays how the interaction between a human and a piece of technology creates a completely new meaning for the object and the user. I watched as people viewed our project that they did not even think about the Arduino that was inside the black box, but only cared about playing the Theremin.

The creation of the project involved not only the technical portion but how to make the Arduino look like an instrument. Properties were added in the form of design, such as hiding the wiring inside a box with only the speakers in sight. It was like a make-shift stereo. We added a white board with scales marked on it to guide a player to play a tune. We added familiar features which we already identify with music into the Arduino to make it into our own instrument.

Star wars on the Arduino theremin. Performed By Katie .

Just a sample of our poster…

Just a sample of our poster…

Week 12 Reflection

The Boehner article this week raises the question: how do we get people involved in the design process? It discusses the merits and problems of ‘cultural probes’ and how they are used in the HCI design process.

“How can you extract user requirements from dreams?” is the thought-provoking quote that begins the article. It highlights the tensions between the tactile possibilities of technologies and the human imagination. Personally, I dream of a day when I can navigate beautiful touch screen interfaces while doing intensive legal and business research but perhaps my dreams are mediated through my own iSchool experience and career aspirations. :)

Probes aren’t meant to enage me, however, they’re meant to engage older people, or people who aren’t as technologically engaged. They hope to give these people a way to voice their ideas about future technologies, as they may not have much of an opportunity to do so. Boehner notes, however, that while they are useful in some instances for specific purposes, they aren’t by any means a perfect solution.

Technological engagement is rapidly becoming a political and social necessity and it will only become more important to find ways to help people engage. The article highlights the need for a better solution.

First attempt trying out our Arduino theremin

Week 11 reflection

Sorry this post is a bit belated. Better late than never!

Last week was a great class - we all finished up and presented our wearables project and I was blown away by everyone’s great ideas. I’m looking forward to brainstorming and developing our final project (poster reception, please!).

I thought the DiSalvo article sort of described the critical making process that we experience for each project. He touched upon the brainstorming and building processes as well as the purpose of this in the field of participatory design. The Neighbourhood Networks project reminded me of aspects of our class! We’re working on the Arduino and making technology that helps “reveal and/or call into question common assumptions and beliefs about technology and the urban environment, and the possible relations between those subjects”.

This article made me think about how fascinating it is that every group in our class comes up with a different idea for each project. The varied ways in which we approach each project, and use the readings from class to develop them is pretty amazing. Every group and individual has a different way of expressing the issues and concepts we discuss, and the application of these different approaches to critical making yields so many great, and different projects. We’re able to engage with each device on a few different levels, and critically reflect and think about each different interpretation collaboratively. Participatory design!

Leave it to Latour to blow my mind. “There is no outside: outside is another inside with another climate control, another thermostat, another air conditioning system”. Waaaaaa!

Regarding design, and then connecting it with our class, I like the questions Latour posed regarding the spaces in which we design. Very often designs created and imagined in a space where controversies and contradictions are not taken into account - this isn’t really beneficial, because areas of concern will always arise when something is created and put out into the world. So, Latour asks how we can draw these matters of concern together in the design process - how can we address the questions of good and bad design, as well as associated political issues? Something to keep in mind for the last project - how can we associate the possible ethical concerns and political issues that can stem from our project into the design and brainstorming process?

Fertility Necklace: Making Private Info Public

For our wearables project, we made a fertility necklace using an arduino, a L35 temperature sensor and an LED. The purpose of the necklace was to indicate whether or not a female is fertile, by displaying a solid LED when ovulation is detected through change in (basal) body temperature. Of course, this isn’t entirely feasible (due to our basic skills and constraints of the technology) so we had a temperature sensor detect changes in temperature and show a solid light when a change was detected. 

There are many thought-provoking aspects of making this very private information public knowledge. Firstly, this is something that animals have different natural ways of displaying to potential mates, but is not something that humans have a way of displaying. Of course, this makes sense, as just because a woman is ovulating doesn’t mean she wants/needs to become pregnant. However, some women (whether for barrier-free family planning, spreading out pregnancies, or simply for personal knowledge) feel empowered by being able to track when they are ovulating and a similar device could aide in this process. 

Other more sensitive issues arise when we consider what it would mean if every woman wore a similar device that displayed this information publicly. What would the green light signal to others in terms of sexual consent? Does this technology have the potential to re-appropriate a woman’s sexual decision-making? This is an example of a biological measurement having the potential for gross misinterpretation and highlights the dangers of similar biological measurements becoming public information.

Katie is a fertile myrtle!

Katie is a fertile myrtle!

Not rights…but control

Everything that is digital now requires an account and a password to be created the minute you wish to access the information. Back in 1995, when I first started using the Internet, information was not this controlled. Accounts existed, but it seemed more about creating a persona and individualism than how it is now. In today’s world, the Internet is all about controlling the information.

Whether a country places control on IP addresses of another country to view their media, or Face book lets users control their private information, the key trend in information has become information security. There also always is a punishment attached in this DRM process such as denial of access or loss of privileges or even notifying police if the information you try to access is a national security breach.

I understand the noble concept that is behind DRM, it is to save the public from the users who have ill-intent, but because DRM has such ambiguous laws associated with it, it can be taken advantage of by corporations to actually control users. It is taking the power away from a central authority like the government and giving it to corporations who are creating these DRM’s and judging information accessibility as they see fit. Take for example the ability for Canadians not being able to access many US based online TV shows. The online shows are supposed to be free for all, but corporations decided that Canadian users only have the right to view the same material through a Canadian site than an American site. If this was about simple rights to see the information, it would not be an issue, but the issue becomes about profit, privileges and marketing for the national TV station and they have decided that this is how they will manage the users.  

In our project we displayed a man not being able to enter his own home because he was not able to enter the right password because it showed that how important digital control has become where a system created by others is now in charge of your world.

Our Draft Code: Project Two

 */


int button1 = 2;   // pushbutton connected to digital pin 7
int button2 = 3;
int button3 = 4;
int button4 = 5; //submit button

int buttonPushCounter1 = 0;
int buttonPushCounter2 = 0;
int buttonPushCounter3 = 0;

int buttonState1 = 0;         // current state of the button
int lastButtonState1 = 0; 
int buttonState2 = 0;         // current state of the button
int lastButtonState2 = 0; 
int buttonState3 = 0;         // current state of the button
int lastButtonState3 = 0; 
int buttonState4 = 0;         // current state of the button
int lastButtonState4 = 0; 

char button1val = ‘1’;   // pushbutton connected to digital pin 7
char button2val = ‘2’;
char button3val = ‘3’;

int password1 = 4;
int password2 = 2;
int password3 = 3;

int ledPinRed = 12; // LED connected to digital pin 13




int val = 0;     // variable to store the read value
int count = 0; // Number of times tried

void setup() {
  // declare the ledPins as an OUTPUT:
   pinMode(ledPinRed, OUTPUT);

  
   pinMode(button1, INPUT);      // sets the digital pin  as input
   pinMode(button2, INPUT);      // sets the digital pin  as input
   pinMode(button3, INPUT);      // sets the digital pin  as input
   pinMode(button4, INPUT);      // sets the digital pin  as input

 Serial.begin(9600);

}

void loop() {
 
   buttonState1 = digitalRead(button1);
   buttonState2 = digitalRead(button2);
   buttonState3 = digitalRead(button3);
   buttonState4 = digitalRead(button4);
  
  // compare the buttonState to its previous state
  if (buttonState1 != lastButtonState1) {
    // if the state has changed, increment the counter
    if (buttonState1 == HIGH) {
      // if the current state is HIGH then the button
      // wend from off to on:
      buttonPushCounter1++;
     
     
      Serial.println(“on”);
      Serial.print(“First Code:  “);
      Serial.println(

buttonPushCounter1, DEC);
    }
    else {
      // if the current state is LOW then the button
      // wend from on to off:
      //Serial.println(“off”);
    }
  }
  // save the current state as the last state,
  //for next time through the loop
  lastButtonState1 = buttonState1; 
 
 
   // compare the buttonState to its previous state
  if (buttonState2 != lastButtonState2) {
    // if the state has changed, increment the counter
    if (buttonState2 == HIGH) {
      // if the current state is HIGH then the button
      // wend from off to on:
      buttonPushCounter2++;
      
     
      //Serial.println(“on”);
      Serial.print(“Second Code:  “);
      Serial.println(buttonPushCounter2, DEC);
    }
    else {
      // if the current state is LOW then the button
      // wend from on to off:
      //Serial.println(“off”);
    }
  }
  // save the current state as the last state,
  //for next time through the loop
  lastButtonState2 = buttonState2;  
 
 
 
     // compare the buttonState to its previous state
  if (buttonState3 != lastButtonState3) {
    // if the state has changed, increment the counter
    if (buttonState3 == HIGH) {
      // if the current state is HIGH then the button
      // wend from off to on:
      buttonPushCounter3++;
      
     
     // Serial.println(“on”);
      Serial.print(“Third Code:  “);
      Serial.println(buttonPushCounter3, DEC);
    }
    else {
      // if the current state is LOW then the button
      // wend from on to off:
      //Serial.println(“off”);
    }
  }
  // save the current state as the last state,
  //for next time through the loop
  lastButtonState3 = buttonState3;  
 
 
 
 
 

  // turns on the LED every four button pushes by
  // checking the modulo of the button push counter.
  // the modulo function gives you the remainder of
  // the division of two numbers:
   if (buttonState4 == LOW) {
     if (buttonPushCounter1 == password1 && buttonPushCounter2 == password2 ){
       Serial.println(” Password is correct”);
       digitalWrite(ledPinRed, LOW);
     }
     else{
     Serial.println(” Password is incorrect”);
     digitalWrite(ledPinRed, HIGH);
    
     }
  
   }
 
  /*
  if (buttonPushCounter1 % 4 == 0) {
    digitalWrite(ledPinRed, HIGH);
  } else {
   digitalWrite(ledPinRed, LOW);
  }
*/