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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!

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