© Jonathan Gallagher 2012-2019
Class 1: Physical Interaction 02/09/2015
What is physical interaction?
Chris Crawford defines interaction as
“a cyclic process in which two actors alternately listen, think, and speak”.
which I always thought to be about as succint a definition as there could be. I first read this definition (with a slight difference in phrasing) in his book “…on Interactive Storytelling” and now again recently for class in “The Art of Interactive Design”.
In that case what is physical interaction? In simplest terms, the aforementioned process but with the added inclusion of a physical body as the agent of either one of both of the parties’ actions.
Then what makes for good physical interaction? Some things that I think are important are believable feedback, haptic feedback, feedback and actions that lead to further interaction. e.g: Something that takes human capabilities into account to paraphrase Bret Victor. There is always careful thought and a long design process behind devices that feel “intuitive”. The ability to engineer it so that the user considers using your product “intuitive” is a valuable and hard learned / repeated skill.
His central point is summarised in the article’s postscript:
If you’re with me so far, maybe I can nudge you one step further. Look down at your hands. Are they attached to anything? Yes — you’ve got arms! And shoulders, and a torso, and legs, and feet! And they all move! …With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future Of Interaction should be a single finger?
Bret argues for convincing, immersive interaction. Though centered on the primacy of the hand as the easiest and most obviously unexplored avenue of research for new interfaces, I believe that a policy of inclusion of the rest of our capabilities beyond the screen/interface or touchscreen paradigm is the way forward. I will see if I can put this into practice somehow in the coming weeks.
It was hard for me to think of an example of something completely devoid of interactivity. Perhaps, especially recently and with new media, it is something thought so intrinsic to human nature that we either strive to include it in our work or subconsciously do so anyway. The works of the video artist Bill Viola can be said, in my opinion, to be devoid of interactivity. Seen here in a gallery setting:
The work can be observed and can surely elicit an emotional response but at no point does the video respond to any of the actions the observer might take. It is scripted, it plays out the same way every time. This is no way subtracts from its merit but as an example of a digital work that is not interactive it serves its purpose.
Class 2: Switches and LED’s 10/09/2015
wanted to use FSR. Started with this blog
Modified the sketch to control more LED’s from each of Arduino’s PWM ports.
Arduino has only 6 pwm pins could solve using this
Need better adhesive than this tape.
Class 3: Digital and Analog Input / Output 10/09/2015
Initial concept and playtesting : http://www.soyeonchung.net/2015/11/11/pcomp_week10-playtesting/
We built a 16 x 16 LED matrix using Sparkfun button pads. It is a large version of an arduino based monome. Each LED is RGB, driven by TLC5940 IC’s and is capable of outputting a 16 x 16 downsampled version of a live camera feed. Each LED is also a button, we have used this feature to enable users to draw pixel art by pressing buttons to change their colour. The purpose of this project is to provide a novel interface that allows the user to perceive themselves in the context of the form that our device displays. Only large differences in colour or light are tracked resulting in a recognisable outline devoid of the finer detail that we are used to seeing and perhaps obsessing over when using a mirror. We display the basic form of a person, hopefully making people realise that image is primarily an issue of perception which varies from observer to observer.
Issues and Questions
Use of LED Driver IC’s
If I were to make this project again, knowing what I know now I have two solutions: Take the silicone button pads by themseleves, a strip of 256 neopixels and wire up a matrix of switches using a base of conductive fabric (the base of the buttons is conductive so this is all that’s needed to make a switch) with the same form / spacing that the Sparkfun button pads have. Most of the complexity of this project came from scale and driving the LED’s would have been completely solved by using individually adressable LED’s, eliminating a large part of our problem. A laser cut enclosure would be all that’s needed to hold the buttons in place. The Sparkfun pads even provide an illustrator file with the correct measurements as a starting point.
I enjoyed learning how to use the IC’s but they were not the quickest nor the easiest solution for this project. As Tom said during our second user testing they are essentially now outdated technology, the prominence and affordability of individually adressable LED’s today being a direct result of the popularity of the hobbyist electronics market.
The most elegant solution but one which I am currently listing as separate as I don’t know how to do so yet would be to replicate the sparkfun PCB but with connections designed for the through hole version of WS2812 (Neopixel) LED’s. This would be trivial to someone who knew what they were doing I’m sure. One thing we underestimated was the amount of wiring involved that increased with scale. This would solve both that and the LED problem, the two biggest bugbears of the project.
A word of warning to whoever goes down the path, like we did of trying to emulate an Arduinome or Chronome from FlipMu. They are great projects with a lot of careful and well thought out work and documentation gone into them but I will share some problems we had with trying to replicate their approach from an electronics novice standpoint: