Theory of Relativity

I found this documentary on black holes that mentions relativity and how light and time bend in response to the gravitational pull of the black hole.

I found this article on relativity, which describes how light is a constant speed in a vacuum, such as space, and is a physical boundary of motion for objects. That is, it is not possible to move faster than the speed of light.

For humans viewing something moving at the speed of light, we perceive that something moving much slower than it really is – which makes sense if you consider that an airplane flying far away in the sky appears to be moving quite slowly when we logically know it’s moving quite fast.

Tactile Assistive Watch

For our first Time assignment, Alex Vessels and I prototyped the design of a watch that is intended to be used for a blind person. We thought about a few different implementations of this design, but Alex and I decided to go with a design that incorporates Braille numbers since it seemed simple and uncomplicated to use. Our design features two rows of ball bearings that rise and lower, according to the corresponding Braille number and time. In order to tell the time, the blind person presses a button on the side of the watch, which causes the balls to rise, according to the current time, for 30 seconds at a time.

Braille numbers:

Exploring My Animal Self

Admittedly, for my Animals, People and Things In Between assignment, I really wasn’t sure what animal I was going to choose. I took one of the (corny) quizzes, and found that I was actually really satisfied with the animal I seemed to identify with most: deer.

Deer are strong, yet graceful. Humble, but not easily dismissed. It seems as if their eyes see what is already familiar to them, as nothing new has been invented. Growing up in Ohio, it wasn’t uncommon to see deer somewhere in the woods, in a park, or sometimes in someone’s backyard. They simply appear at your backdoor, and yet disappear without warning. Most deer are seem pretty shy, even when they somehow manage to live in cities. Whenever I saw a deer on the side of the road, I often couldn’t tell which one of us was intruding.

My short comic on how I become a deer…
I saw a link on the birth and rescuing of a fawn, which for a while I imagined was my former life. I imagined what I would do if I were really a deer. I would go to the park and the museum, and I’d eat good food. No one would bother me, because I’m just a deer. And, deer are only easy to find when they want to be found. Eventually, I’d get tired of being a deer and I’d need to go home. So, I’d just catch a train, turn into a human, and go home.

Anyway, aside from deer I also considered two other options. Lately, I’ve been imagining myself as a cat, but as the type of mysterious, anti-social cat that runs and hides whenever you get close but whose owner swears she’s very friendly. Incidentally, my first cat was the first pet I was allowed to have that also seemed to care for me, too.

A project that sounded interesting was to imagine myself in a cage – myself as the pet. Perhaps I would get a wire cage, with sawdust, an exercise wheel and tiny human furniture. Then, to represent myself, I would create a tiny, gerbil-sized puppet of myself that would live inanimately inside the cage. It seemed intriguing to take care of my own pet self? I wonder if, as a pet, I would take better care of myself?

Jan 13-15: Antenna Design Workshop

This past week at ITP, I was one of 16 lucky students to participate in a workshop on “Intervention/Interaction – Multi-person Interface” hosted by the co-creators of the awesome design firm Antenna Design. Sigi Moeslinger (ITP Alumna ’96) and Masamichi Udagawa led the workshop over 3 days. Our task was to create an intervention of some type in a public space, keeping in mind that the focus of our interactive experience should be on people.

Along with Nien Lam and David Phillips, I created an intervention in the Bobst academic library at NYU. Our proposal was a type of “relaxation station” that transported the users to different natural environments. It was targeted towards busy students needing a short break from their studies, but could still be unobtrusive enough to still be situated within the library.

As I mentioned, each station would be based on a natural theme, which were organized by the floors of the library. So, the ocean-themed station was on the 2nd Floor, which the night sky-theme was on the top floor. Within each station, students would be able to participate in the shared experience of being transported to another natural environment, complete with enhanced oxygen and sound design that would become more complex depending on how many other students were also sitting in the station. Each station would also have some type of visual aspect, since there would be some type of overhang to each bench or seating area, that sort of resembled a bus stop. What I specifically worked on was the sound design aspect, which I found I really enjoyed from the sound editing assignment in Communications Lab. Additional credit goes to Nien for developing the 3-D software model of our station, and David for the presentation and photo-manipulations.

I really liked our project, as did many other students. The breaking point for us was spending several hours in the library and simply observing the behavior of students there, and taking careful consideration of what would really be feasible in that space. I’m really proud that we were able to come up with something really nice in just 3 days. Nice job David and Nien, especially for putting up with my paranoia and perfectionism! 🙂

Anyway, here is our project description, some photos and some links.

Photos of our final presentations
, by Jonathan Ystad.
Our presentation by David Phillips.

Project Description:
Design an intervention (= installation or an automated machine) for “interactive services” in public space which will generate a new interaction amongst people.

An “interactive service” is a “mechanism” which provides some service or product for people. It is a kind of hybrid object/environment, such as an automated vending machine, information or entertainment kiosk, street furniture, etc.

The task is to go beyond an interface between a system/object and a singular user, to coming up with an interaction amongst multiple people mediated by the new system/object.

In this project, the essence of design is to “activate” people who encounter your intervention. The design should be safe and enjoyable, help people become more curious, more intellectually and/or physically active, cultivate relations with others (strangers, family, community, friends, colleagues, etc.) and grow as humans. It sounds obvious, but people must always be the focus of design.

Article: “Tangible Interaction”

The current issue of interactions magazine features a cover story called Tangible Interaction = Form + Computing, which the authors, Mark Baskinger and Mark D. Gross, describe as a combination of physical design and computing. They reference NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (ITP) as one of the first schools in the world to have embraced tangible interaction design. In their article, they speak of the switch as the simplest of sensors, and reference Pd (a software program specifically for sound design), Arduino (for gadgetry) and Lilypad (for wearables)…all of these part of our non-core curriculum.

As an ITP student, one of the most heartening parts of this article is the section on “Where Do Tangible Interaction Designers Fit?”. They say, “The field is still wide open, but one thing is clear: We’re likely to see more, not less, programming in things, and a lot more experimentation.” It’s nice to hear that there’s still so much more development to be had, since it means I’ll eventually have a job.

In reference to ITP, well, we have a lot of artists who come through and I don’t know how many of them would really think of themselves as a “tangible interaction designer” even if that’s really what they are, if you have to call it something. And, I do think the article lacks a bit in the artistic and simply wonderment aspects of what we do; not everything is designed for more than just enjoyment of life or experimentation. Not that they need to, but as they say they’re modeling their studies at Carnegie Mellon on programs like ours. So, maybe, there’s a PhD in my future…I did after all quote Dr. Gross in my ITP admissions essay.