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Archive for November, 2008

THE YAWN: Saving the video

November 30, 2008 By: Asli Category: Computational Media

We’ve been working on the Applications presentation all weekend, so I didn’t have any time to look at my final projects until now, Sunday evening.

It’s not such a grand progress, but I did get the code together for saving video as a QuickTime file. Once you start the program, the camera starts recording until you press the space bar. The movie is saved as “” in the sketch folder. One problem is that usually, there are drop frames in the saved file, possibly due to the fact that I’m flipping the video to get a mirror image. I will ask this to Jeremy tomorrow.

Here is the code:

Code for saving video

Code for saving video

THE YAWN: Blob detection

November 29, 2008 By: Asli Category: Computational Media

I downloaded the BlobDetection library, following Dan Shiffman’s recommendation and started trying it out. I took the example code from BlobDetection’s website, made a few minor changes and ran a few tests. The most suitable threshold range for me was 0.13f. BlobDetection analyzes images for blobs in comparison to the given threshold value, which is a float number between 0.0f and 1.0f. To find blobs with dark pixels, the threshold value should be set to low (close to 0.0f), and for finding brighth blobs, the threshold value must be set to a high value (close to 1.0f).

Here is another picture of me yawning -it’s 1:40am! - with blob detection:

Yawn with blobDetection

Yawn with blobDetection

So what BlobDetection does is that it frames each and every dark blob it detects in the picture. But I only want it to detect the largest blob: the open mouth. Can I constrain the size of the blob? Can I add a function to make processing detect only those blobs that have, say, at least 50 * 50 pixel diameters?

I’ll go back to my code and see if I can figure it out.

Animation: Storyboard

November 26, 2008 By: Asli Category: Communications Lab

Diego and I are working together on our last CommLab project of the semester! We’re going to prepare a 1-minute animation piece using After Effects. We are panicking a little bit, because neither of us knows how to use the program; plus we have finals to work on; plus I have my Applications presentation next week; and plus the floor is going to be closed for Thanksgiving… Oh my, will I still be alive by the end of the semester?!

To understand what sort of things we can do with After Effects, we watched some tutorial videos online and looked at some past projects created by ITP students. The animations Spencer showed us in class and some youtube videos were also helpful in shaping our idea for the piece.

Both for aesthetics and the sake of simplicity, we decided that we would make a black and white animation, using images as silhouettes. The story has quite a dark tone: we see a cityscape at first and then zoom into the street to see a guy walking. He also is a silhouette, so you can’t see his facial expressions. As he walks towards and past a naked tree, a shadow starts to emerge from the background. As the shadow grows bigger, the guy notices it on the ground. He turns around to see what it is and comes face to face with a huge tidal wave about to swallow the whole city! And that’s where the animation will end. We are thinking of using one of Diego’s songs for the piece, but we’ll see if any of them works when we are done with the animation itself.

Here is the storyboard:

Storyboard for animation

Final Project: Brainstorming

November 26, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing, Telecommunicating

I don’t know how 10 weeks have passed already, but we are now fast approaching finals!

It is time to start thinking about our final projects. For Pcomp, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, a lot of sketching, a lot of brainstorming for the last two weeks. I decided that I want to work on my own for this project, not because I don’t like to work with a group, but because I think I want to do something more personal this time.

While I’ve been thinking about my project, I kept remembering Red’s “Play, play, play…” advice she gave us on the first day of Application’s class. What does she mean by play? Why does she want us to play? What does play mean to me? Why would I want to play with anything?

These recurring questions will not really be answered until probably when I leave ITP, but still, I always find myself trying to figure out what the essence of play is while I’m working on a new project. In fact, it’s so liberating that we are greatly encouraged here to do whatever inspires us; moves us; drives us. We are so fortunate to be in such an open environment where creativity and collaboration are the most emphasized notions and we are allowed to play along the way.

Having said all that, what I see in play for this semester is that we have room for making things that are more about exploring the very new tools we have been learning so far, and not so much about making things that can be packed and shipped as products. Do I make sense? Maybe that’s all what ITP is about anyway! Well, for me, I take the final projects this semester as an opportunity to create art. Not that I would give up on that in the future, but… Oh, I’m confusing myself!


If I stop and try to make a clearer picture of what I have in mind, I would say that I saw myself inclining towards choosing a subject matter that is personal to me. For that reason, one that is perhaps very risky to communicate. But we are encouraged to take risks; we are encouraged to play! So, instead of doing something gadget-like or something more of a product, I decided to work on a interactive sculpture or installation piece that plays with the idea of memory.

I am extremely interested in the notion of memory for a number of reasons; one important one being the fact that I have a very poor personal memory. I am the type of person who forgets events, dates, numbers, names, plots, stories; you name it, I’ll forget it! It is very sad that it is the case, but I never know what I can do about it other than revisiting my memories whenever possible or keeping a journal, which I have never been so consistent at… This blog will definitely be a collection of my creative memories and I will appreciate it greatly later on, I’m sure.

Where was I? Yes, memory! With this project, I want to explore my personal memory; as well as political, social, cultural, artistic and religious memories. But, how would that be interesting to other people? Would they want to interact with it, and if yes, how? How am I going to approach it? Am I going to recreate a memory, or should I focus on making memory tangible? Something that represents the memory, but not necessarily communicates it directly?

I have many questions. I’m going to start sketching and writing and see where I go from there.

Midterm Project: Worry Friends

November 25, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

Worry Friends!

Worry Friends!

We presented our “Worry Friends” to class today and I think the presentation went pretty well. To be honest, we could’ve done a better job, were we to not worry about it too much, but we did. How ironic is that? We made Worry Dolls and didn’t use them before class, because we were too worried to even consider it ! I find that quite amusing!..

For the in-class presentation, we put together a slideshow document and projected it on to the house of the “Worry Friends”, whom we named as Ilik, Tsuuk and U’yik. The names are taken from the Mayan language, because Worry Dolls were originally a part of the Mayan culture and we really liked how the words sounded.

So here, let me introduce you your new friends!

Ilik wants you to wake him up. Open his arms, uncover his eyes and he will see you.



Tsuuk wants you to rub his belly. Hold him close, press on his belly and he will fell you.



U’yik wants you to sing her a song. Sing to her, tell her your worries and she will listen to you.



It took us a long time to sew all three dolls from scratch, to make three circuits, to write three programs and to put them all together, but it was worth it! I thought the process of creating the dolls, the group meetings and talking about the project in general were the most exciting aspects of the project. Li and Marco were very easy and great to work with and I learned a great deal from them, just by sharing ideas and brainstorming.

Here is the slideshow document we put together for our final presentation.

And below are some other pictures we took during the making of the dools:

Worry Friends!

Worry Friends!

Friendship tea & fabric & sparkfun order

Friendship tea & fabric & sparkfun order

Doll in progress

Doll in progress

Midterm Project: Progress

November 24, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

Today, we planned to go to East Village Fabric Store to get fabric and other supplies for the dolls we are going to make. On the way, something incredible happened: we found a box full of bits of fabric left outside of a tailor shop on 10th street! It was such an unbelievable coincidence! After that, we only needed to get some threads and needles, so we went to the fabric store and completed our mission.

Later on, we started to work on our code and tried to get the LED light working using a pressure sensor. Li has made this prototype silicon head that we might use, and above is a picture of how it looks with a super bright LED lit inside it.

Aside from these pictures, Li has some videos that he took while we were working on the circuit and the program. I will ask him to forward them to me so I can post those as well.

Midterm Project: Observation

November 24, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

For our midterm observation assignment, we got a few Guatemalan Worry Dolls and handed them out to our fellow ITP classmates. Everyone had their own way of interacting with the dolls. The most common interaction was that people preferred to communicate their worries with their minds, instead of saying them out loud. That was very interesting to observe, because it means that we might have to reconsider using microphones as sensors. Here are some fun pictures we took in the Pcomp lab:

Later in the afternoon, we made a prototype doll and we gave it to Ozge. It was great to see that she really liked to hold it and basically refused to give it back to us! Here is how she interacted with it:

Midterm Project: Observations / Ozge from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

LAB 7: Transistor and DC motor

November 23, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

When tried this lab a few ago, I couldn’t get it to work. But when I was going through the labs last weekend, I got to it to work and was very excited about it!

In this lab, we learned how to control a high-current DC motor and to use a TIP 120 transistor. Below are the two videos I took while playing with the motor and paper:

LAB 7: DC Motor from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

LAB 7: DC motor 2 from Asli Sevinc on Vimeo.

Here is the code I wrote on the arduino:

Arduino code

Arduino code

Midterm Project: Brainstorming

November 23, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

The members of our group are Li Li, Marco Antonio Castro Cosio and me.

We came to realize that we are all interested in the idea that technology can be used to improve quality of life, to calm the body down, to evoke peaceful emotions.

During our first brainstorming session, we talked about our fascination with light, the sun and things that calms us down, things that has memories, things that trigger memories, materials and objects that have meanings.

The idea that technological objects don’t necessarily have to be high-tech looking, but that they could be serene, emotion-provoking or they could just give you a warm smile was something we touched on quiet regularly.

The fast pace of school and New York, and living in a period of everything-fast — these are some of the reasons why we want to make something slow, personal, soothing, touching to the soul.

Li brought a design catalog for inspiration and a Sun Jar, a jar with a built in solar charger and a LED that lights up at night with the power generated by the solar charger during the day. We are all very interested in sustainability, D.I.Y. art and technology as well as using materials that have a history, that were used for something else before. Therefore, we were very excited about using a solar charger for our project, whatever it was going to be.

Marco told us that he has a small room that doesn’t have wall space, but big windows. If we are to create something interactive/decorative, could we do something with curtains?

Ideas were flying around in the Peanut Butter & Co sandwich shop Marco took us.

- Time capsule
- Photo booth == confession booth == emotional outlet
- Sensor coaster
- Lights triggering/manipulating mood
- Voicebox of your loved ones with nice/inspiring messages
- Snow globe with screaming people

We shared some of our inspirations: Linda Stone’s talk on the importance of breathing and quality of life, The Design of Everyday Things, distancelab, cube ecraft, many photos Li showed us of Japanese design objects, instructables, post secrets, Jonathan Harris, the fold school; just to name a few.

On Thursday afternoon, we met again to see if we can go somewhere with all these ideas.

What we decided is that we want to create something that uses input from the body and produces a different output depending on the different input it receives.

Something that uses heart rate as input? Something that uses heat? Something that processes touch? Light? Sound?

Marco brought up Guatemalan Worry Dolls, which we thought was very interesting. Here is what is written about them on wikipedia:

A person (usually a child) who cannot sleep due to worrying can express their worries to a doll and place it under their pillow before going to sleep.

According to folklore, the doll is thought to worry in the person’s place, thereby permitting the person to sleep peacefully. The person will wake up without their worries, which have been taken away by the dolls during the night.

The idea of a interactive journal within a worry doll that will react depending on your audio stories fascinated us immediately. We started thinking about how they could react to the sound: would they give off light? Would they talk back to you?

And then we started wondering about all these following questions:

What kind of sensors are we going to use? How are we going to make the dolls? Can we make them D.I.Y? Can we make a website? Where are we going to put them at night? How are we going to get audio interactivity? How are we going to incorporate solar chargers/sustainability?

I am very excited about our dolls!

Brainstorming at Peanut Butter & Co.

Brainstorming at Peanut Butter & Co.

I can’t wait to explore the possible solutions to all the challenges that await us!

LAB 6: Multiple Serial Output

November 23, 2008 By: Asli Category: Physical Computing

This week, we took the serial lab we did last week one step forward and made a serial communication between arduino and processing using a circuit that has two analogue outputs and one digital switch.

For my lab, I used a digital push-switch, a potentiometer and a force sensor. Here is the picture of the circuit:

Circuit with multiple serial outputs

Circuit with multiple serial outputs

I wrote the code in arduino to read and send the serial data for all three sensors and here is how it looked:

Values on arduino

Values on arduino

After trying that, I used what is called the “Punctuation Method” to be able to see the values for each sensor separately and here is what I got:

Punctuation Method

Punctuation Method

And finally, I tried the “Handshaking Method”. The visualization image I got on processing is below. How it worked was that when you switched the digital push-switch on, the ball would appear. And then after that, you could control the x movement of the ball with the potentiometer and the y movement with the force sensor. It was very fun to play with the ball on the screen!

Handshaking Method and ball visualization

Handshaking Method and ball visualization