Fingers crossed...

Talk (Spain) - Power of Making

Being one of the only designer invited to the Campus Party Milenio in Granada (and the only one exhibiting) was a great honor. My talk was about augmented realities, power of making, opensources technologies and DIY in front of an audience of hundreds, broadcasted live. Scary experience.

Helmet Design - Part 6

I just spent the last two entire days at the workshops sanding the two parts of the mold with three differents grains of sand paper and correct any anomalies with resin filler. However, the molds are now finished !
I had to reinforce the inner structure to resist to the vaccum pressure during the forming which took me also quite a while but at 2pm this afternoon, the two parts of the helmet were now formed in the 3 mm width sheet of plastic. I'll have to re-cut them, sand them, glue them with epoxy, re-sand and finally paint them with at least 2 layers and a maximum of.. 6 layers which I'll try to avoid if possible..

Helmet Design - Part 5

All the pieces of MDF are now cut at the right shapes, at the right angles. 21 differents pieces for a total of 65 angles... and everything as to stick together with no more than a millimeters of gap for the whole helmet.
The helmet is now divided into two differents pieces, the bottom and the upper part, which will be vaccum formed separately then weld it together to create the final helmet.
The bottom mold is now done, I just have to correct it with filler then re-sand it before creating the final plastic mold. The upper part is a bit more tricky to acheive because it has to be done according to the shape of the lower part. The two has to stick perfectly together with no gaps possible. That's why I'm waiting for the first part to be completely dry to make any correction on the upper part.
Picture below, more to come tomorrow.

Helmet Design - Part 4

Another day at the wood workshop at CSM. I finished the 2 parts (upper, lower) of the prototype made out of cardfoam. It had to be very precise because the vaccum forming process doesn't allow any mistake, even a millimeter, into the wooden mold. I cutted every single piece of the helmet into 16mil MDF and I started to sand each side at the right angle to assemble them. This was super difficult to measure and to sand hopefully CSM has great facilities, ressources and staff and I'm quite happy about the work I've done (thank you digital angle measurer). I hope I'll have enough time to finish to sand each piece of wood and stick it together before the end of the week.
Vaccum forming will definitely be the easiest part of the work.

Glove - pattern cutting + electronic

Still working like an octopus : 2 days are dedicated to the helmet at the workshop (next post will show the progress of the mold before the plastic vacuum forming).
After working on the electronic embeded into the glove, I started the making process of the glove itself in collaboration with Anais Bordier, student in Fashion Design with Marketing at CSM.
I started with very simple sketches. The glove has to be as simple as possible and has to be uni-size. From the final sketch we started the pattern cutting of each piece.
The making process of a glove is actually very complicated and need a lot of differents parts which has to be extremely precise to fit anyone's hand.
We started the prototype which is meant to be finished this week. I feel quite happy with the actual design. I'll go to the "fabric shop" on friday to choose the differents materials which will consititute the final object to provide a nice glove, resistant enough to support the Arduino board and the electronic. Once again, I'm trying to extend my original field of design into a multidisciplinary project by taking into account other considerations such as fashion designer's one to create a nice object, appealing, breathable and wearable, meanwhile communicating well with the helmet and the other parts of my project. Exciting stuff.

Workshops are back!

The final term start today, the wood & plastic workshops are re-opening after a long month being closed. I started cutting the wood mold for the vacuum forming from the very precise cardfoam model. Next post this week.

Control module - electronic Part2

Short post again, this is the final electronic circuit using two FSRs connected to the arduino board.
The arduino sketch is still very basic at the moment and only evaluate the force applied by the finger on the sensor on a scale of 0 to 1000.
I now have to connect the live datas to processing or openframeworks.
//FSRx2 test sketch.

//Connect one end of FSR to power, the other end to Analog 0.
//Then connect one end of a 10K resistor from Analog 0 to ground

int fsrPin = 0;
int fsrPin2 = 1;
int fsrReading;
int fsrReading2;

void setup(void) {
// We'll send debugging information via the Serial monitor

void loop(void) {
fsrReading = analogRead(0);
fsrReading2 = analogRead(1);

Serial.print("Analog reading = ");

if (fsrReading < 10) {
Serial.println(" - No pressure");
} else if (fsrReading < 200) {
Serial.println(" - Light touch");
} else if (fsrReading < 500) {
Serial.println(" - Light squeeze");
} else if (fsrReading < 800) {
Serial.println(" - Medium squeeze");
} else {
Serial.println(" - Big squeeze");

Serial.print("Analog reading2 = ");

if (fsrReading2 < 10) {
Serial.println(" - No pressure");
} else if (fsrReading2 < 200) {
Serial.println(" - Light touch");
} else if (fsrReading2 < 500) {
Serial.println(" - Light squeeze");
} else if (fsrReading2 < 800) {
Serial.println(" - Medium squeeze");
} else {
Serial.println(" - Big squeeze");

Last version of the circuit using 2 FSRs

Control module - electronic

Short post about the electronic which will be embedded in the control module : the glove.
I'll post a selection of drawings / rough design soon. The glove will be constituted of two fingers, leaving the thumb free, and a structure half rigid around the hand. The palm will allow some flexibility and an Arduino Duemilanove board will settle on the top of the hand (probably in a small box, something similar to the helmet in terms of design).
From the Arduino, four flexible wires will go through the fingers and will be connected to two flexible force/pressure sensors, one for each finger, which will be activated thanks to a pression with the thumb.
Even if I'm not going to create different kind of sensors for the glove, I wanted to make the whole system able to evolve easily. The two sensors will not be solded to the wires, there will be a small plug on the top of the nail allowing different kind of physical sensors/modules connected to the Arduino board.
Finally, the glove will be connected with a USB cable to the computer. I can't afford an IR or Bluetooth wireless data transfer but, at least, if someone ask : it's possible.

Very basic picture of my circuit using only one force sensor

Sound mapping - holistic vision and blind experience.

I decided to put aside for a while my whole idea of constraining one's senses. This concept is still totally valid for my project, meant to enhance the user experience by enabling new behaviours. However, constraining the user is also, at the moment, constraining my critical thinking and creative practice.

At first, I thought speaking with Thor (sound designer) during his talk/workshop at CSM couldn't be very useful for my project. Not because of the man -who's doing a great work and was very enthusiastic with our projects- but because I was already focusing on replacing the vision. Indeed, the last thing I needed was to complexify even more the project.

Most of the ideas we had during our... let's call it brainstorm, were not realistic or even useable because it was involving another painful branch of the project : designing sound, designing multiple sound emitters, and finally designing the environment/rules/signage with coherency.

Thor gave me lots of fresh ideas inspired from video games to curation. We had a short talk about the vision of blind people and the importance of taking sound into account at a brand new level. He gave me multiple literary references dealing with propagation of sound in space, sound mapping, sound frequencies, interferences and finally, a very sensible approach to a blind experience, recounting in a very positive way the world as seen through sounds and other senses.

The ''vision'' of blind people was already a main part of my research. Do you remember Daredevil's vision, both in the comic and the (poor) movie ? His sense of hearing is so well developed that he's able to properly see his environment.This vision called shadow vision, or more often radar vision, is an evolution of the ability described by many blind people to locate very precisely the origin of each sounds around them, then mapping them in a coherent mental image.

When it starts raining, Daredevil hears the sound produced from each drop impact on the environment to create a cloud of points surrounding the person with a very similar render to my 3D scan, except I'll not scan Jennifer Garner's body.

Daredevil's vision from the movie.

Leaving Daredevil aside, I found numerous novels or studies about visually impaired vision and experiences. When it's not directly from a blind author, either it becomes very scientific or really intriguing. You can find tons of articles on the internet about this famous shadow vision made from souvenirs, imagination and sound perception. How do blind people dream ? Are they able to see things ? This is indeed very intriguing questions which, in my opinion, traduce the fear of losing our major sense, everything which deal with eyes is utterly scary for most of the people.

How are we supposed to imagine that blind people are able to see things differently when we're diving in a scary ocean of darkness as soon as we close our eyes ?

« The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. »

Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

It takes time to develop new senses and new behaviours - connecting this part to my original idea to constrain one's senses to enable new behaviours. This is indeed what it is all about, pushing the boundaries of vision by replacing the eye as our major and unique sense : we have to believe in our extraordinary capacity of adaptation and evolution.

A blind experiment, which has to be differentiated from a blind experience, is a medicine term in which some of the persons involved are prevented from knowing certain information that might lead to conscious or unconscious bias on their part, invalidating the results. The experience I would like to provide with my helmet is quite similar, displaying a new environment, with a brand new point of view, catalysing one's conscious and unconscious.

All these ideas involving the unconscious are intriguing, certainly because of their unpredictable and creative mechanisms. I asked the question below, how do visually impaired people dream ? I made some research on the subject and it came out that those who are born blind or become blind before the age of five do not see in their dreams. Nevertheless, their dreams are just as rich in narrative and detail as in sighted people. If one's sight is lost after the age of seven, dreams will still brim with visual imagery.

Despite the grey area which occurs between five and seven years, we can differentiate two different sides. By making a connection with the blind experiment below, the sooner a person lose his sense of vision, the sooner the unconscious will be involved in the making process of an alternative vision of reality based on the other senses.

My project is not based on a blind experience, a single band of fabric in front of the eyes will do the job better. I'm taking into account this holistic idea of fusion the senses into a brand new vision. The helmet is not meant to blind the user but to immerse the person into an alternative reality inspired from this radar vision described by many vision impaired people. The live 3D scan allows the user to rotate around his environment, deconstructing the ideas of perspective, texture and surfaces by placing undifferentiated objects and mental images into a cloud of points, leaving the imagination of the user free to create his own experience.

I'm working on the next evolution of the software which will modify the live-scanned environment according to environmental sounds, a bit like an equalizer. Blind people will remember a place according to sounds : two different noisy spaces will certainly have more in common than the same place at two different time of the day for example. My new vision will allow different users to experience the same environment in very different ways according to both uncontrolled sound emitters such as human activity, rain/thunder, wind. And controlled ones such as user's own sounds and he's own choices to be surrounded by sound emitters and experience a blurry, rich environment or, at the opposite, he has the possibility to hide and protect himself from sounds, leaving any possibility of discovering and interaction aside. This is all about making decisions.

The next post will be focus on the software development and why not a demo if I'm ready for it. I'm also working on a special feature allowing to record the datas of the scanned environment. This way, I should be able to map the user experience which could be a great record to compare each person's behaviours once placed in the same place with their vision modified.

" Hellen Keller, who became blind at the age of 19 months, claimed to have "visions of ineffable beauty."

Hellen Keller.

Relevant link : Blind people and their dreams -