Naz: The experience first begins in a bed set-up with a bolster and small pillow place above it. The user then presumably understand that it is a bed thus he gets on the bed with his head positioned on the small pillow. Just like how one would hold on to a bolster while falling asleep, he hugs it close to his chest. Just as he squeezes it and the bolster receives pressure, the sound of a heartbeat plays. The volume of the heartbeat varies with the level of pressure applied – the louder it becomes if more pressure is conducted. The aim of this project is to reinforce the idea of coping the loss of a loved one, and in this case, when you hug your loved one, you are able to sense your partner’s heartbeat over a hug.
Naddy: In our set up, when the audience first see our installation, they should see a set up of a tear-stained mattress and head pillow. We intend to have a very dim set-up to the installation, some sort of a scene where you can fall asleep in. In the middle of the mattress, there is a bolster placed. The audience would have to get on the mattress and lie down. The audience would then have to put their arms and legs around the bolster and proceed to hug it. The bolster would then react by producing a heartbeat sound as soon as pressure is being applied. The harder the audience squeezes the bolster, the louder the heartbeat sound would go off. This ties to the motive of our project as we are trying to depict how someone copes with the loss of a loved one which is to replicate the sound of the loved one’s heartbeat, somewhat reassuring the user that the person that is gone, is still there.
Is it for a single person to engage with your project or for multiple participants concurrently?
Naz: Considering this device touches on the emotions and experience between two loved ones – one who has passed, and the other listening to the heartbeat, only one user is involved. Also, there is also one set of pillow and bolster thus suggesting it can only be felt by one user.
Naddy: The device is meant for a one person participation at one go. This is because we want the audience to feel a sense of isolation and loneliness as they interact with our device and sort of have a one-on-one personal connection with the device.
What is the interaction or situation you are creating for your audience?
Naz: By putting the user in a lying position that may feel suffocated or restrained in movement or position, it forces him to be attentive to his senses around him. When he places his arms and legs around the bolster, it drives him to be aware of what is going to happen next as the actions are limited in nature.
Naddy: We want the audience to feel a sense of loneliness and having the need to hug the bolster. Having our audience lie down on a small and flat head pillow restricts the air flow that goes through the windpipe thus making them feel slightly restricted. This would then prompt them further to hug the bolster and put on more pressure onto it.
What is the intention of this interaction?
Naz: After hearing the heartbeat sounds, he not only expands his hearing senses, but it forces him to think about what goes to his mind when listening to someone else’s heartbeat – as he reminisces on his loved one who has passed. It pushes him to be sensitive not only to his emotions but to his experiences with that loved one.
Naddy: The intention of this interaction is to showcase how someone copes with the loss of a loved one. This interaction was inspired by an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror, “Be Right Back” where the wife loses her husband to an accident and she then signs up for an app that replicates actions her husband would do. This is to show how there is an alternative way of coping with a loss which is to not move on and pretend they are still there.
Naz: When introducing a new setup and experience to someone who has zero idea on the context and steps involved, it is crucial that everything is set out clearly. From the placement and arrangement of the setting – such as the distance between the object (bolster) and the user, as well as the position that might affect how he should place his head, it not only speeds things up for the process but it allows you to refrain from experiencing hiccups or misunderstandings. Since no step by step guide instructions are allowed for the final execution, there has to be a clear idea of what steps goes first and continuously. This can be solved by having as many tests and dry runs with new users every time. With feedback received, you can understand and study what are the things users might misinterpret in the set-up which can be adjusted before the final execution.
Naddy: From the body storming process, I learnt that the choice of materials used is very crucial in relation to the sensors that are used as well as the input and output that is wanted. I am much more aware after gaining insights from Lei and Serena when they mentioned how the heartbeat vibration would be difficult to execute especially if the bolster is a big one and is soft which would absorb the vibration and make the interaction a failed one.
With Bai testing the installation even after having the steps being laid out, I realize that the way we placed our items plays a huge role in how the audience would interact with it. He did mention how having the bolster sitting right in the middle of the mattress immediately deters him from wanting to mess with it thus it is important to be extra particular with placement of elements.
What surprised you while going through the process?
Naz: Sometimes, what we visualise in our head might not appear as smooth as what actually happens. When we (the creators) make a decision on the message we want to bring across, sometimes it might not be understood clearly or as quickly from the POV of the user. For instance, when we place the heartbeat playing over a phone over the ear of the user, because of the awkward position that isn’t intended for the final critique, users and observers might misinterpret the message. Some thought it was for abortion considering the phone screen showed an image of a baby and a mother. These are things that has to be carefully considered so that our message still stands. The creators have deliberately took a long time to plan the context thus for us it is quickly understood but for the rest, it is their first time, thus everything has to be clear for them.
Naddy: We were quite shocked at the fact that the observers commented on how they thought that the installation was a commentary on consent as they felt that when the bolster was hugged and emitted a sound, they thought that that was a commentary on how when something is being touched without consent, it will trigger a heartbeat which beats fast when being hugged tighter. Another observer also mentioned how she thought that it was about abortion as they saw an image of a baby and a mother on the phone screen when we were playing the heartbeat sound for the tester.
We were also shocked at how the tested told us that he was weary of shifting the bolster thus that was why he avoided it the best he can as he didn’t want to trigger anything. This defeats our purpose as we wanted the tester to interact with the bolster but because we placed it in the middle of the mattress, it caused a confusion to the tester which reinforces how placement of object is extremely important.
How can you apply what you have discovered to the designing of your installation?
Naz: For the setup and experience to be successful, users can get the hand of the context within short amount of time as possible without us giving it away. And this can be done by taking close and careful consideration to the setup. For instance, the setup shouldn’t just contain the devices (bolster and bed) but it should suggests the idea of a room of someone who used to live with their loved one who has passed. Thus, hints of the presence of their loved one can be included – such as used clothing, images one bedside table, or even the size of the bed. A queen size bed would suggest that the person used to share the bed with their loved one versus a single bed. Subtle symbols or hidden meanings can be used to enhance the experience of the user while capturing the message as quickly as possible.
Naddy: We would like to include a clearer context for our installation which is to have a better and much more elaborate set-up. After feedbacks on the misconception of our message and material issue with regards to the input, output and the sensors that we intend to use, we are revising our message to be that of a mother who experienced the loss of her unborn child. This fits both our context and material choice better as we plan to scale down the bolster into a baby’s bolster instead as then this would be simply hugged by the tester and need not require them to lie down and hug it.
As for the context, we plan to still have the set up on a mattress but clad it with ultrasound images on the wall and have some baby toys on the side of the mattress. We also intend to put some tear and blood stains on the mattress to show the remnants of how the mother coped with the loss of the baby.
For this project, our aim was to create something that is annoying yet functional at the same time. We also wanted to churn a body that is neat as we practice and move forward towards the final project.
Sketch + Prototype
In the initial sketch, we wanted the coaster at the top to be in the center of the box and the Arduino on the right side of the set up inside the box.
However after actually setting the things up, we have trouble-shooted the necessary changes such as shifting the Arduino on the left to allow for a better placement for the wires and we have changed the circle coaster to a rectangular one as it covers the hole of the box better. In this prototype, we hot glued the box from the outside with spilled all over and in general was just ugly-looking and not what we wanted which was clean and neat.
WIRING + PUTTING THE BODY TOGETHER
In the beginning, we started the circuit off with just the set up for the LED light as we were most confident and sure of where each components we supposed to be. After consulting Lei, we were then able to piece the components for both the light and speaker together.
After settling the circuit, we decided to create a board made out of 6 pieces of mounting board in which we hot glued the sides from inside to hold it together. A small hole of not more than 1cm have been created on the bottom side of one of the sides to allow the cable out in order to connect to the Arduino software and computer.
IMAGES OF THE ANNOYING COASTER
How it works in real situation
How does your hacked object behaves in a way you least expect it to?
N a z :
Our project is called the Annoying Coaster. A coaster plays a tune when a magnetic key is placed on a light sensor. The tune only stops when the key is lifted from the coaster. Typically, a coaster is used by placing a glass or any item on a flat covering to protect the surface of a table hence the release of a sound every time the object lies on it, wouldn’t be a normality. This creates a disruption to its formality, which is least expected and opposite to a coaster’s sole function.
N a d d y :
Drawing inspiration from the lock system of the doors in ADM, the mechanics is that when the door is opened, the beep will continuously make a beeping sound until the door is closed. We decided to incorporate that into our Annoying Coaster, just that we reversed its mechanism. A coaster in its natural state doesn’t put out any sound as it is just a protective surface for mugs or cups to be placed on so it doesn’t stain the table. As such, we decided to make our coaster screech and light up with an LED to defeat its purpose of being a silent surface every time an item is being placed on it.
In addition, we also didn’t expect our coaster to be a great item of reminder for our keys and hall room FOBs. The Annoying Coaster acts as not only a coaster to place our keys on but it also reminds us (in an annoying manner) that our keys are on the surface and to pick it up to turn off the sound and light before leaving the room.
What are some reactions you observed from your participants when they interacted with the object?
N a z :
During the presentation, we left a magnetic key beside our box with a coaster that has an LED light and sensor on top. The first tester, Shernesse, knew that there was an association between the key and the sensor on the box as she placed the key on the sensor, which triggers a tune. She then realises the sound stops when the key is lifted from the coaster. There were even more experimentation done by the following people where they waved their hands above the LED light sensor which also triggers the same tune, giving an alternative suggestion as to what exactly is the purpose of our object. Due to the lightweight box, there were instances when the box was lifted to its sides which also triggers a tune – although it wasn’t the intended interaction for the users. Overall, there were people who understood it as an annoying coaster that serves as a reminder to not leave your dorm key behind, but there were others who weren’t sure of what it was as they misinterpret the form of the box as a book.
N a d d y :
Our object was set up such that I have placed an FOB right next to it, in hopes of having the participants engage our object with the FOB. This was a guiding object for them to realize what the function of the object was for but to also observe if they would “defy” the hinted function and choose to do something else.
Sherneese was the first person to try out the object and she immediately reached out for the FOB which was great as she knew that it had something to do with the object. I noticed that she just hovered the FOB above the sensor and it already started to beep. She placed it down before picking it back up and hovering it above the LED light instead before hovering it back above the sensor. I believe she was trying to figure out what triggered the sound and the light.
Elicia immediately took the FOB and placed it onto the coaster and left it on for a moment and did this twice before making a comment on how she believes she knows what the function of the coaster is. Munch then came to try by simply hovering her hand over the coaster before touching the sensor with her finger. I believe she is trying to figure out if only the FOB activates the sound and light or if she is amble to trigger it with simply her hands.
Serena tried the coaster last and chose to use other objects such as an iPad to try it with before she turned the coaster to the right and then to the left. The coaster’s sound and LED light surprisingly activated when it was turned which was not what we expected it to do. However, I believe what triggers the sound and light were because of the light threshold on the sides were lower as compared to when facing it upwards where the light source is coming from.
What are the challenges involved and how did you overcome them? What problems still exist? How might you overcome them eventually?
N a z :
Firstly, we intend to place a key on the sensor which is on the motherboard and it would be physically impossible as it might topple and disrupt the circuit. Thus, we had to come up with an alternative that wouldn’t disrupt the circuit. We then decided to place a hard surface on the circuit which consists of a box where the circuit goes underneath with two holes poked through the top for the LED and the sensor respectively.
Secondly, poking the holes through the coaster and the cardboard was a hassle. As there were many layers the LED and the sensor has to poke through, we decided to cut a huge hole underneath the green coaster so our fingers can slip through to insert the LED and sensor to the proper pins for it to work. Multiple torchlights had to be used to ensure we could see each pin that were small in scale. We then covered the huge hole using a circular coaster but felt that a square one would cover the hole better.
Thirdly. piecing the box together is troublesome until it required multiple tries. We faced difficulties and errors with the hot glue gun when gluing the sides of the box into a piece. The sides kept toppling due to the hot glue gun drying in a matter of seconds. Thus, we glued the insides of the box instead of outside and it managed to work. There were also some parts of the circuit such as the motherboard and arduino that used masking tape and blue tacks due to the fear of the need to move it around.
Once the set up was more or less done, we faced trouble when choosing an easy coding that triggers famous theme songs (such as Star Wars or Super Mario) as the songs would only play the entire tune before stopping. This was opposite from our intention to instantly stop the tune when the key is lifted. Thus, after 2-3 arduino codings drafts, we decided to alter the Star Wars coding and play a single tune instead. This met our purpose and intention of the project – which was still a success. It is still a problem that I wish I could tap on as the idea of an annoying famous theme song would fit our intentions better. I would probably approach Lei again for assistance or perhaps asking Engineering Major students for advice on how to adjust the code.
N a d d y:
The first challenge that we encountered was how to put together the circuit for the sound with the LED circuit without disrupting it. We were able to obtain the code for the LED and the speaker separately but we were unable to find a way to combine these two codes without making either one of the components not work. Nevertheless, it took a couple of tries together with Lei before we were able to get the speaker to work and sync with the LED once the sensor is being triggered.
The second challenge that we faced would definitely be piecing together of the white box. As we wanted to conceal the breadboard and the Arduino, we had to take the right measurements in terms of the length and the height, ensuring that the LED and sensor is able to peek out at the top yet not too high that it exposes the wiring. We initially hot glued the board from the outside which appeared to be very messy. It took us a couple of times glueing and peeling of the glue in order to get the right one. I had to excessively glue the board from the inside so that the glue would sit right in the middle of the gaps and be as visible as when it was glued from the outside.
The next challenge that we faced would be when piercing a tiny hole for the LED and the sensor. For this, I had to purely use estimation and gauge roughly the distance of the holes between each other. When working on the actual final product, I realised how the sensor’s holes needed to be much more further apart as compared to the LED’s as the sensor has a wider leg gap so it’ll need more space to be fully pushed in.
The fourth challenge would be the cutting of the hole on the top side of the box where the coaster will be placed at. This is because, we have to have the right size of hole on the top in order to push through the LED and sensor onto the breadboard. When we cut the coaster into a circle shape, we found it to be too small for the box thus creating voids on the sides and not covering it, which exposes our circuit. As such, we decided to do a rectangular coaster instead with two accented pieces as it felt much more fitting.
The fifth challenge would be coding the tune into the Arduino software. This is because we initially planned to use either the Super Mario or the Star Wars theme song playing whenever the sensor is being activated yet we were unable to get it to come on the way we wanted to. The song would play continuously even when the sensor has stopped triggering and it will only stop once the song stops which defeats our function which was to have the tune play only when the keys are being placed on the sensor.
In addition, I felt that we could have used a pressure sensor instead of a light sensor as I feel that the pressure sensor would be much more reliable and accurate. This is because as observed by Serena’s reaction, the coaster will still sound and blink when turned to the side. As such, by using a pressure sensor, the threshold of the pressure would be the keys so the LED and the sound would only react when an object that weights similar to the keys are being placed on.
The two verbs that I have chosen to explore would be grab and wrap.
The materials used for this expression would be rattan and metal sheet. I have curved the metal strip and bent it near the bottom to make it have this “arm” like top where it is able to grab the rattan sticks.
The materials used for this expression would be batik cloth and balsa block. I have created a void at the top side part of the wood so that I’m able to insert the cloth in to allow it to be grabbed by the wood.
The materials used would be metal sheet and brown paper. I was trying to play around with frame so I tried having the metal sheet retain a specific form before wrapping the brown paper around it to observe how it engulfs around the frame.
The materials used for this would be a branch and gauge wire. In this expression, I wrapped the metal wire around the branch just to study how the texture changed and to observe how the softer material adapts to the harder material.
The materials I used for this expression would be a metal sheet and twines. I was trying to play with the materials to see how it is able to complement each other in terms of texture, colour and size so for this one, I wanted to see how the twines could come in wrapped around the metal sheet that is slowly tapered at the top.
Conceptualising to the Final Work
In the beginning, I wanted to do a corset so I did that for the prototype but soon came to realize how it is not a vessel. However, I tried using a material that was similar to the leaves that I was going to use for the final product’s vessel that I chose to do.
I had a vision board of the ideas of the vessel that I had in mind. I focused more on a rounded vessel and something that gives of a traditional and rustic feel to it.
I wanted to use rattan and coconut leaves for my vessel as I was really interested to see how the soft coconut leaves would manoeuvre around the hard and tough rattan strips.
I tried to study a couple of weaving techniques that I am able to incorporate when working with the leaves.
This was the initial sketch of what I envisioned my vessel to be.
This was idea #1 in which I wanted to retain a rounded base and form for the vessel. I wanted all the leaves strips to be placed horizontally whereas the the wireframe or rattan go vertically and have an accented strip in the top 1/3 part of the vessel. The handle was initially planned to be made from fabric and be sewed in with the leaves.
This was idea #2 in which I wanted to create a handheld bag which uses two wooden rods at the top that allows for the leaves to weave from and also another rod at the bottom for the leaves to loop around. The sides of the vessel was going to be fabric sewn into the leaves.
However, there were limitations as soon as I tried working with the rattan and leaves. As such, I had to modify my the form of my vessel so as to not “force” the shape and materials into awkward positions.