013: Prototypes

I also spent the past week fighting the two-front prototype battle. Because I want the experience to span the digital and the physical, the prototyping is spanning both as well.


Final Material Choice

After carrying around both regular and wood glue–mix plaster for a few weeks, I decided to go forward with plain plaster. It is more robust than I feared (not shown: videos of me dropping talismans all over the floor) and develops a nice patina. The specimen above now belongs to a friend of mine, because I wanted to test attachment / see how it felt to give it away. (It hurt a little.)

Magnetize & Electrify

The following step was to start to add capabilities to the object. The ultimate object needs to have a microcontroller with wifi or bluetooth, encapsulated power, and a notification method / button,  in addition to the ability to notify and be carried, but this week I focused on the latter.

The first version, embedded the magnet at the top of the object and tried attaching the LED to the back. While the power of the magnet managed to keep the LED holding on a little, a few hours of wearing was sufficient to pull the magnet out of the plaster.

The second version involved embedding the magnet deeper in the plaster. As the video below shows, this works a lot better.

On the other hand, the LED did not stick well, even with the slight magnet assist, so I investigated embedding it into the plaster itself. (The version in the magnetized version actually has an LED inside as well, but I forgot to add wires, so I did it again.) This time it worked, glowing and sticking to the fridge. 

The final test, was to add a small vibrating motor, similar to what is in your phone. I was curious if a motor would hold up and feel pleasant. The first pour had the motor end up too close to the surface, so I added a little plaster of the top, so I could still show it to people. Fixing this means either milling a deeper taslisman or using  thinner motor or a piezo.

Overall, I am heartened by these prototypes and looking forward to developing a working, combined system by the end of the summer.

Screens: Oublié/Trouvé

This week was the first week of the screens. Because I have more experience with design for screens than with physical objects, I have spent a lot of effort on materials tests and exploring my capabilities with them.  But in order to have a full conception of the ecosystem. it was time to bring on the screens. Here I have the four primary views.

The application itself is named Oublié/Trouvé, Forgotten/Found. This is a nod towards A la recherche, of course, but I prefer the sense of forgotten to the lost of perdu.

Initial Screen

The initial screen provides users with the ability to note a moment by hitting the lighthouse button or the big O. From here they can also access the list of concordances and saved moments.

Concordance View

Here is a view of an elevation concordance. In keeping with an interactional design perspective, the display is ambiguous in its clustering but provides a list of the selected moments below. In this case, all moments have taken place at the same elevation and could be grouped by contents, weather, or time of day.

Moment View

Diving deeper into a moment. Here the salient factors are displayed as shapes and colors, with size tied to magnitude (e.g., it is a warm day in a low place). Here the user can add notes. These would add highlights to people and places, and therefore allow the user to browse moments by filtering on these ideas. This is an allowance for a browsing sort of loop, inspired in part by Sherry Turkle's description of her mother reviewing her drawer of photographs in The Inner History of Devices.

Augmented Talismans

This final view covers the augmentation of the talisman itself. This would be an entry point when the object notifies the carrier that it has spotted concordances. These could be used to spark internal reflection or navigate to the concordance view.

Next Steps

The next steps here are to begin to write the code for the application and to create a more definite design direction. I plan to do these in tandem, designing in code.