Tag Archives: design

Project updates

19 Oct

After getting some feedback in class last Friday, Bubble Pop Electric has made many changes to our proposed design!

Our biggest criticisms were:

1)  Our hat is pointless and probably awkward to wear.

2)  We have some interaction issues to sort out with grabbing bubbles and moving them from the “inactive” to the “active” space (and for that matter, what IS the active space exactly…do we keep the sash?).

3)  Our LED lighting doesn’t seem well integrated into the rest of the system and could be enhanced.

4)  Some elements of control (like the stretchy suit whammy bar) may cause unintentional changes to the music during normal body movement.

After meeting last night, we’ve overhauled our design to address these concerns and make our suit a more intuitive, easy-to-use outfit.  Ali came up with the idea of punting “active spaces” and “inactive spaces” entirely.  Since we already have a mechanism to turn off and turn on each individual bubble by tapping it, why would we have to move selected bubbles to an active space during performance?  We decided it’s much simpler for the bubbles to remain on the suit and allow the user to simply turn on which bubbles she wants to use.

We also decided to organize the bubbles in a more logical manner to help the user remember which bubble corresponds to which sound clip.  In addition to color-coding the bubbles by song, all bubbles containing clips from the same song will be placed on the same quadrant of the body.

To address the issue of the user involuntary modifying the song, we’ve decided to add a belt with two sliders to control the sensitivity of the whammy bar conductive suit and the beat/bass shoes.  That way, the user can “turn down” her suit if it’s annoyingly sensitive to her movements.

To incorporate more of a display and reduce the awkward factor, we’ve eliminated our functional hat (though we may still have a small decorative headband) and have designed an LED display for the torso of the suit.  The LED display will be a matrix of LEDs under some sort of diffuse material. We hope that this display can be used to show a few simple animations, etc., some of which coordinate with the music being played. Instead of being just a screen (too Teletubby-like), the display matrix will be in the shape of a cool jazzy pattern that Ali thinks looks like a  Jem costume.  Our inspiration for this display came directly from the 15,000 LED dress by Moritz Waldemeyer and Hussein Chalayan (see below).  This design duo has already created LED outfits for many performers, including U2, Rihanna, and Ok Go!

And here’s a sketch of our updated design (drawn by Lorraine):


Storyboards and Demo for Bubble Pop Electric

18 Oct

We’ve been working on some storyboards to showcase how the Bubble Pop Electric suit might work.  We’ve also made a paper prototype of our proposed system – Ali was kind enough to test it out in front of the class.

Here’s the video:

And here’s the storyboards:

Sandscape and Illuminating Clay in the Context of TUI Frameworks

24 Sep

Sandscape and Illuminating Clay, projects by the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab, are TUIs for landscaping and architectural modeling that allow users to mold organic materials to actively construct a model of their design.  A camera or laser detects the changes in the physical environment and models the changes on a computer display.  In addition, information such as wind flow is projected directly onto the physical model, allowing the user to dynamically see how their model will interact with the environment.

Like most TUIs, Sandscape and Illuminating Clay aspire to enhance a user’s experience behind the tired and true “WIMP” (window, icon, mouse, pointing device) interface.  While there is indeed a display screen involved in this project, these projects are more akin to playing in a sandbox than playing a computer game.  This TUI contains many of the elements of a “Reality-based Interaction” framework, which is described in “Reality-based Interaction: A Framework for Post-WIMP Interfaces”.

Reality-Based Interaction (RBI) Themes:

Naive Physics (NP):

These featured TUIS heavily take advantage of a user’s sense of naive physics- a user will be able to sense when a landscape structure is precarious or unstable rather than relying on a computer’s computation.  Much more intuitive than a CAD program, the user is able to mold, build up, and depress the material instinctively instead of searching through a library of complex extruding, sweeping, or filleting options.

Body Awareness and Skills (BAS):

The dexterity present in the human hand is much greater than the dexterity possessed by a mouse pointer.  When we mold sand and clay with our fingertips, we are able to delicately press and mold exact features.  We are much more in-tune with our fingers than features in a software program.

Environmental Awareness and Skills (EAP):

In both of these TUIs, the user is able to model environmental conditions, projecting additional information onto the organic form.  With both TUIs, users can view information about elevation, water flow, etc. designated by the color gradient projected onto it’s surface.  As the user manipulates the material, they can see how the changes they make directly influence how the landscape interacts with the environment.  In this way, users are not limited by being unable to physically model all factors they would want to consider while landscaping a space.

Social Awareness and Skills (SAS):

Rather than using one input (a mouse), multiple users are able to create a model together.  A large rectangular container allows at least 4 people to stand on each side and make their own respective changes to a model.  One user can literally “make suggestions” to a model by molding another person’s creation.  These TUIs would also allow persons unfamiliar with computer modeling software to design a landscape.  For instance, a sculpture artist that has no previous experience with landscaping but creates beautiful forms may be able to translate their art into a designer landscape.


1)  There is no “undo” button.  While a digital representation of a model may be preserved, it may be difficult to return to a previous version of the physical model once changes have been made.  Users have to be judicious when deciding to make major changes.

2)  The physical model is most likely not permanent.  Clay dries out.  Sand degrades.  Not to mention that once you’ve created a physical model, you cannot make a different model until you destroy the first one.  Both of these TUIs are likely intended for exploratory models.  I assume permanent digital models will have to be created in any case.

3) Textures and complex shapes may be difficult to mold.  Some shapes are more easily created with a computer.  When attempting to repeat similar shapes or structures, users interacting with these TUIs would have to hand-mold the same shape over and over if they do not already possess multiple tokens resembling their design.  In addition, when it comes to “perfect” shapes, computers are better than humans.  We leave fingerprints and may frequently mold uneven shapes.