[Final Project] Afterthoughts: The Less Awkward Conversation Starter

Beginning: Low Fidelity Prototype
I had some difficulties at the beginning trying to find the right size for my device. I was not sure if this will be portable enough for users to carry it around. The first low fidelity prototype failed miserably because it could not close as the paper GSM was too high.

I worked on another piece and it was better but could still be improved as the top cover was lopsided and could not fit into the base perfectly (problem with the size and paper thickness).

Problems with Questions
I looked up some of the ways one could start conversing with one another about topics such as end-of-life issues and found that it was quite difficult to implement it into the device right at the start of the project.


I decided to work on simpler questions first and created a question bank for this device.

Some of the questions in the recording

I was also recording and editing some of the questions in the question bank so that I could test use it on the patch.

Connecting to the Patch: Problems

1. Audio Output
I ran into some problems with the portability of this device. I realised that I had not planned for the sound output for it and could not find a way to connect speakers. Trying to resolve this problem cost me a lot of time, as I started to try to find ways to connect the phone to the Max MSP patch, thinking that it could resolve the problem. After weeks of mulling over this problem, I decided I would just use the Max MSP “Audio Option” to connect to external speakers.

Thinking back I should have continued working on other parts of the patch, such as continuing with the recording of the voice patch and brainstorming on connecting with the patch.

2. Random Selection of Questions
I managed to resolve the looping and random selection of the audio files using the random integer generator on Max. I tested on 11 files and I think with more files the random selection will work better.

Putting Together the Device



For the base of the template, I used a 250GSM paper folded into the size of the box to create the casing of the device.

3. Problem with the pressure

Creating the device also brought about some new problems. The counters were not effective in creating enough pressure for the pressure pad to detect it underneath the separator. Even without the separator, the pad could  only detect very little of the pressure and it was a hit or miss.

4. Problem with the Connection
I also had some problems with connecting the pressure pads (using around 4) to the device which rendered the entire device useless. I have no idea why I could not connect to my computer although I could do that previously. I tried several ways of connecting such as changing the part numbers, but I still could not get a reading from the pressure pad though a constant flow of numbers appear under the inspector (when connected to “print”).

Sound files: Sample 11 files

Moving on
As this project is a semi-completed project, I would like to carry on exploring new ways to work things out. Although I was given a long time to complete this project, I was too focused on minute details and lost sight of the larger picture, which may also be the main cause of why so many other unforeseen circumstances appeared. I was overly confident that the patch which had worked before would work again. However, was proven wrong at the last minute prior to the submission.

Moving forward, I should spend more time making sure that the patch was constantly working because it was still the core of the device. I tested the patch a few times before embarking on the other parts of the project and only checked back again at the end of the project (which was too late). I guess this is also the problem of form versus function for me, because I was obsessed over the form and did not foresee the problems that would come with the functionality of the project.

I think I can explore more using Arduino, buttons and speaker output and sensors for this project. The pressure pad is not really working very well and is causing more problems than necessary. I think I want to also try to see how this project can initiate conversations with the elderly regarding end-of-life issues because that was what I had originally set out to accomplish.

Hyperessay #1: Concepts in Social Broadcasting

(hyper-shortening essay in progress)

Media has been a controversial subject throughout the history of mankind. It has brought about many debates in the past decades. These are my key takeaways of social broadcasting concepts I learned through our micro-projects & classes:

  • “Alternative” Media: Giving Community a Voice
  • Tools for Communication & Collaboration
  • Interaction & Identity
  • Extensions of Ourselves

Continue reading “Hyperessay #1: Concepts in Social Broadcasting”

Device of the Week #1: Hybrid Assistive Limb

Produced by Cyberdyne in Japan, the HAL® Hybrid Assistive Limb® is a device that helps “improve, support and enhance” the wearer’s bodily functions. It supports movements and users can use it in a variety of ways such as lifting items, in physiotherapy (recovery of limb functions), etc. It works together with the human body functions and give users “superhuman strength”.

Motion Principles

  1. Think
    Users think about how they want to operate the machine and the brain sends signals to the relevant muscle parts instructing it to move.
  2. Send
    Sends signals to move as the brain intends the limbs to move.
  3. Read
    HAL is able to read the signals sent by the brain transmitted through the skin through a detector and recognises the type of signal sent by the brain.
  4. Move
    HAL then assists the body to move as intended
  5. Feedback
    The device also helps the brain to learn motions.

Although an expensive suit to own, the Hybrid Assistive Limb is something that benefits society in many ways. An online article talks about how the HAL has helped a 49 year old disabled man in Japan achieve his dreams of  “walking the tourist islet”. He was able to achieve the independence and the mobility he desired before the accident that has left him disabled.

In an ageing population like Singapore and Japan, I think the HAL suit will help the elderly and the medical industry in many ways. Elderly members of society are prone to falls and the use of this in the process of recovery could help reduce the ratio of heathcare workers to patients as this technology will promote independence in the patients. Besides its function in the medical industry, the company is also aiming to use this in disaster recover. Although it is in the research stage, I think it would greatly benefit the country in times of disasters.



Hyperessay: Research Critique on “Here Come the Videofreex”

As an independent collective free from prejudiced reporting and rules, the Videofreex was an important media outlet for the people during the 1970s. When media is monopolised, the truth becomes warped and controlled by those in power.

A quote from Parry Teasdale in the documentary sums up the purpose what the Videofreex had set out to do – to create an alternative media outlet (by the people) for the people.

“These were very confusing times. Cities are exploding, there is a war overseas… Switching channels, you’re seeing sitcoms, you’re seeing westerns, you’re seeing everything but what is really going on around you.”

At that time, portable video recording was a new form of art that helps to document reality. It is important that they had created this new media for expression as they have brought documentation to a new level. Two events I felt reflected the importance of their work was the interview with Fred Hamilton of the Black Panther Party and the Women’s Strike.

When one is with a television broadcast station, one is limited by the rules of the station and of the state. Media and politics have always been in the closely connected over the history of time. All television programmes are allocated time limits. Thus, not all of the truth can be told and the media is known to publish headlines that are deemed most newsworthy and most popular. An example would be the Videofreex’ coverage of the women’s strike/feminist movement. They captured real-time reactions of the attendees, the protestors of the movement and the authorities. This gave a more accurate reporting of the event, as opposed to that of the media.

“Nancy, Carol and I marched with the women’s movement with the video cameras. We were recording what was really happening. The TV stations weren’t. They weren’t out there marching in the women’s march. We were.”

This new media also gave the Videofreex the power to create programmes. One of it was how they were able to give advice on abortion to women. Such a programme would not have been approved on the national television as it may have been considered taboo during the time.

It was clear that the Videofreex made television with the community in mind. They were constantly in contact with the people and understood what they needed most on television. There were no hidden motives and they wanted people to benefit from their work. The problems that videofreex face are still prevalent in today’s society. When mainstream media is monopolised and controlled by the state, news reports become distorted to meet the state’s needs. The Sony Portable of that time now changed into a new form called the social media.

It is safe to say that the Videofreex has changed the landscape of media and provided a new alternative to media. However as media continues the evolve and more people are given the power to use media however they want to, it is important to know why we use media and for what reasons we use it for so as to ensure that we do not abuse it.




Interactive Narrative | Idea Generation

Idea #1 | Crying Buildings
Plot: Using sounds of construction around Singapore to build a story about the loss of living spaces and memories.
Outcome: Interactive book, website (Javascript), illustration
Research: Collection of a series of different stories from people whose spaces have been taken away, find out how these stories can be collected
Problems: Would the idea be sustainable?

Idea #2: Incubator Citizens
Plot: Inspired from baby chicks living in incubators, provided a safe environment to grow up in and fed the same type of food everyday. A game where players have to figure a way out of a maze-like living environment where they discover hidden secrets behind the place.
Outcome: Click game
Research: Look into the history of chosen country
Problems: Alternative versions of the history may not be readily available