Week #4

Midterm ideas

Midterm team: Matthew Lau & I.

At first we discussed all sensors we got to know in class, and went over some additional ones we might enjoy working with. I remembered seeing a conductive string in one of the labs' videos — we thought it could make for an interesting interaction.

So we came up with a few raw ideas:

  1. Making a grid, either of LEDs or push buttons, or electro magnets — anything that can have an on or off state. We thought it might be interesting to create an interaction out of turning cells of the grid to be either on or off, not unlike cellular automata type of thing.
  2. Making a ouija board — that operates on electromagnets in such a way that the magnets direct the person to different locations on the board and to create some hidden message.
  3. Spider web / connect the dot — a literal string instrument that is made out of a board with electromagnets and nails on it. People can connect the "dots" using conductive string and effectively close a circuit and turn on or off each dot. Each dot (magnet!), when turned on (connected!), will produce a different sound, so that when a few of them are connected it'll create a more complex sound. We thought it could be nice to have three strings in different colors and a bunch of idle anchor points on the board that will allow people to create interesting visuals.
Sketches for the Connect the Dot idea

Both Matthew and I feel that the latter is the direction to which we'd like to go with this project. It incorporates fun interactivity as well as a technical aspect we'd like to explore further, and it could also work well with the Halloween theme if we go with a spiderweb design. We thought about maybe hanging it diagonally on some corner close to the ceiling or the floor.

Technical Specs

We're going to need the following:

  1. A microcontroller
  2. Conductive Rubber Cord (two or three)
  3. Electro magnets. We'll either build or buy them, and we'll need 8-12 of them.
  4. Speakers. We could use the ones from our kits and amplify them but considering building one!
  5. Wooden board (around 12" rectangular board we'll probably cut into a circle).
  6. Nails and screws

We do have a few open technical questions though:

  1. Do electromagnets offset the resistance of conductive string? If so, how might we address that?
  2. Can we make our own electromagnets?
  3. Can we make our own speakers? Can we perhaps turn this whole thing into a speaker?!
  4. Can we somehow paint the conductive strings?
  5. How unpredictable could electromagnets be? Do they have a range in which they operate? Are they stable enough for our purpose?
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Jasmine Nackash is a multidisciplinary designer and developer intereseted in creating unique and innovative experiences.