The End(?) of Project 2

Perhaps my ambitions for this project were a little high, as I was constantly asking myself “What am I doing?” throughout much of the process. Originally, I set out to create a device that would make bragging about one’s pet even easier than making a Facebook status, or sending a tweet. I wanted this product to not only function as a practical use of accelerometer data gathered by pets, but a satirical statement on how social media users inflate the importance of their pets’ achievements.

The project hit it’s first roadblock when I found out not only that our professor would be gone for two weeks, but when I realized I had two away competitions on both weekends of week 8 & 9. At this point, I was concerned of the future outcome of the project.

While I was away, I tried to keep up with the network issues that some of the grad students were trying so passionately to resolve. Even though we never ended up getting our boards to connect reliably to PioneerNet, their work, as well as that of Ben from UTS, certainly did not go unnoticed.

Once I realized that the idea of having a device that would be able to post tweets and statuses was somewhat of a pipe dream, I worked more on the data I would be collecting. It was at this point during the process that I reevaluated where I wanted this project to go. I found that I had lost some motivation behind the idea of creating a pet activity monitor. I was having strong second thoughts about the idea.

Once my 9-direction of freedom sensor from Adafruit came, I hooked it up to my Arduino Yún and ran a simple example sketch to start collecting data.



The data I received was simplified into 3 categories or axes; pitch, roll, and heading. These were given in numerical values between 0 and 360.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.12.09 PM

From here, I was slightly stumped. I realized that perhaps this was not the best kind of data to be collecting if I wanted to continue with the idea of tracking a pet’s daily activity. I needed raw accelerometer data, which would have required a different kind of sensor. Unfortunately, I felt as though time had gotten away from me.

Overall, this project has taught me a lot, not only about programming, and the difficulties in working on the bleeding edge, but on how to approach projects in the future. I think that I doomed myself from the start in choosing to pursue a concept that I was not fully engaged in. If I had a second chance at doing this project, I certainly would have made sure my idea was fully fleshed out. I wouldn’t start working until I was fully enthusiastic about making the idea a reality.


Cultural Event 3 – Processing visits EDP!

This past week, we had the EXTREME privilege of hosting some of the developers from Processing. They were here all weekend working on Processing 3. Before kicking off the weekend of hard work, everyone from the Tangible Interactivity class were guests in workshops done by Dan Shiffman and Casey Reas.

Casey Reas’s workshop dealt solely with what I would call image manipulation. However, Casey’s workshop was unique in that he took images back to their roots. He discussed how the code was affecting the pixels that made up the image. I thought this was an interesting approach as a photographer, because I rarely think of photos as they truly are: a collection of colored squares.

Dan Shiffman’s workshop dealt with p5 and coding for web. It was definitely designed for coders slightly more advanced than myself. That being said, I still really enjoyed hearing him speak. He was entertaining and informative. He had my attention throughout the entire hour and a half.

Having the members of Processing’s dev team come to the third floor of Schwayder was probably the coolest thing I have been a part of involving EDP… just goes to show what we EDPer’s get excited about!

Cultural Event 2 – Introduction to Max 7

This past week’s “Tech Tuesday” presentation was given by EDP’s own Cory Metcalf. Tuesday November 11, was the official release of Cycling 74’s Max 7. This is exciting news, because this update not only provided improved workability, but also extensive customization options.

I am currently taking Cory’s Visual Programming class, so I have been working with Max 6 for the past 10 weeks now. Had I purchased and used Max 7 for our final assignment, I feel like I would have been completely lost. Although the functionality of the program stayed largely the same, the user interface changed drastically. I think it’s safe to say I would have spent more time getting accustomed to the layout than actually programming.

That being said, I think this is an exciting change for Cycling 74, as Max is becoming a more well known and well regarded programming software.

Cultural Event 1 – Artist Talk – VTOL

Last Wednesday I attended the artist talk that featured visiting artist Dmitry Morozov. Dmitry describes himself as a “musician and engineer of strange-sounding mechanisms.” His work involves hacking into electronics and piecing them together to create interactive installations or performance objects.

In his talk he outlined many of his works including “Reading my Body” and “Solaris”. These two pieces are perhaps his most famous. In “Reading my Body” he took electronic components from a desk scanner, and Wii remote and paired them with an Arduino Uno. This piece literally scans a tattoo on his arm, and generates a sound composition based on the design of the tattoo. I found this piece particularly compelling, due to the fact that he is taking an organic shape from his skin and digitizing it. The digitized information is then sonified, creating a unique sonar experience all from some ink in his arm.

Another piece that spoke to me is called “Post Code.” In this piece, Dmitry is using a barcode scanner, printer, web camera, and a mono sound system all in unison. The barcode scanner reads any barcode and turns the information into sonic and visual compositions. The sonic data is played on the speakers while the visual composition is printed on a postcard. The idea is to bring a form of digital communication into human communication.

Overall, Morozov’s work was compelling and interesting, but also used software and hardware that we all have worked with as EDP Students. This notion was perhaps the most inspiring thing that I took away from his talk.

Project 2

Narrowing down my ideas for project 2 was not easy. I didn’t feel that my ideas were all that strong to begin with. Eventually, I chose to pursue the idea of a FitBit for pets. This is obviously a satirical idea, that does not provide any real benefit to Internet of Things data. This is where I am currently stuck. I like the idea of having a cat activity monitor, however I need to ask myself how this data can be unique, and if I can create a discussion about an interesting topic. Currently the idea is in the works, and more progress shall be made!

Project 2 Ideas

  1. Garden water sensor to detect when garden needs watering
    • “SmartGarden” can have an app
    • Tweets warnings or updates when garden moisture is low, when the garden is watered, etc.
    • Can keep track of water used and compare to neighbors
    • possible addition of extra sensors to monitor soil chemical levels
  2. Wearable object to detect pollution levels while outdoors
    • Particulant/gas sensors placed on a garment or object
    • Takes readings at intervals
    • Can tweet out pollutant levels
    • All is takes is following an account and setting up notifications to get real time data
    • Possible data vis aspect
  3. Pet activity monitor
    • Accelerometer attached to pet’s collar
    • Sends data back to IoT device and posts activity on a social media site or app
    • Can compete with neighbors

Making Sense of Sensors!

Chris and I had the task of figuring out everything we could about Sparkfun’s capacitive touch sensor breakout.

This breakout board has the ability to read up to twelve individual electrodes. It communicates via I2C Protocol. Basically the sensor works to interpret the interruption of electrons on a capacitive surface. In order to make the board send any kind of data, it needs to be hooked up to a minimum of 4 pins on Arduino breakout board. They are ground, 3.3V power, and the two I2C pins which are typically A5 and A4.

There is also a touch shield made by sparkfun (pictured here), which makes it really easy to start collecting data.