Week 11: Final Project Planning

So I have a idea--great! Now it's time to turn it into a reality. I have well-documented sensors from which I can access input data, but now I have animations to design and code, hardware to build and assemble, and time constraints to consider.  As I started to seriously consider the logistics, I realized that to a certain extent the final enclosure or installation would depend on my visuals--how they behave and how users might modify them during the experience. However, I learned from Intro to Fabrication earlier this semester that it's best start considering the hardware earlier than later; better to source materials and think through some of the practicalities now instead of scrambling at the end. With that in mind, I sketched out a rough timeline for the next month and got to work on the latter:

Week 1: Nov 12 - Nov 18 (this week!)
By the end of this week, create animation drafts in Processing
Sketch several possible installation scenarios
Research materials for those scenarios

Week 2: Nov 19 - Nov 25 (Happy Thanksgiving!)
Test sensors with animations and make adjustments
Choose an installation design based on the options afforded users from my code
Build what I can out of foam board or cardboard for user testing the follow week
Figure out a solution to keep fingers in steady position over the pulse sensors
Consider purchasing items that might not be impacted from the user testing feedback

Week 3: Nov 26 - Dec 2 (user testing in both PComp & ICM)
Record and document feedback from user testing in both classes
Work like crazy to make any changes or include additions before the final presentation
If using foam board or cardboard, switch to acrylic

Week 4: Dec 3 - Dec 9 (final presentations in both PComp & ICM)
You got this!
Record and document additional feedback
Make additional adjustments if I am presenting this at the upcoming winter show

Materials & Tools (in progress)
1x Laptop with Arduino IDE & P5.js or Processing
Laptop Charger and Cable
Arduino Uno
1x USB Cable
2x Pulse Sensors (with 2 extra just in case)
...materials for projection or display? (see notes below)

Installation & Materials Investigations


Option 1: Use a mounted or freestanding monitor. This scenario might be the easiest to engineer: all that's required is an enclosure for the Arduino and pulse sensors on which two participants might rest their hands. Michaels sells a couple of different shadow boxes that might work for this: here, here, and here. I would need to test the pulse sensors under the glass, of course, but if they worked, it would easy to rest a piece of custom-cut acrylic atop the glass within the frame (with laser cut openings to reveal the sensors). Users might share controls to adjust any visuals. However, as I realized in last week's post, I'm not fond that a screen to the side or in front that might possibly direct attention away from each other. 


Option 2: Lay a monitor flat with separate enclosures for pulse sensors on either side. This possibility, reminiscent of classic table arcades, focuses the attention on the activity directly between two people. I would source an inexpensive monitor with a removable stand (this one from the Equipment Room or this one?), and build an enclosure for it. Then, I would build or repurpose enclosures to house the pulse sensors. The shadow boxes from Michaels might work or perhaps some acrylic modular drawers or trays from The Container Store (here and here), the small or large acrylic paper trays, or the display cubes (for this, I would need to install the acrylic and cover all but the sensors). Ideally, all the enclosure dimensions would line up evenly as in my sketch. 

Option 3: Repurpose a large frame, and insert on top of the glass an acrylic sheet on which to project the animations. I found a line of large basic frames at Michaels that would work for this, in particular the 20" x 30" and  24" x 36" options. (However, good to note here that ITP's largest laser cutter, the 75 Watt Laser, has a maximum bed size of 20" x 32".) The frame rises 1/4" above the installed glass, a perfect match for a 1/4" thick sheet of acrylic; I already tested it in person. I also tested projections (black/white and color) onto opaque white and black acrylic sheets (see above gallery). Not surprisingly the white creates brighter images (and not just because of my camera's auto exposure in the above images), but since the frames are black, I might want to keep everything uniform. If I go this route, I should consider testing with foam board before investing in and laser cutting opening for the sensors on a large acrylic sheet. The projection area between hand positions will determine the height of the projector--depending on whether I want to project within a set area or onto the entire surface. These frames are only 1" inch tall, as measured from the side--less underneath considering the installed glass. I may need to add pieces around the perimeter to give it some height for the Arduino Uno--or switch to a smaller microcontroller, which I'm weary to do since the sensors are documented for the Uno. Finally, as above, I would need to test the pulse sensors under glass--or just replace that glass with 1/8" acrylic since I know that works. 

Option 4: Project onto the floor. It might be fun to project onto a larger space ahead of two people. But similar to Option 1, I would need to consider how that might impact a two-person dynamic.