To get started, we decided to try and get the servo motors working through voice commands. The voice recognition is done through a app (BT Voice Control for Arduino) that links the voice commands through bluetooth and transmits this information to the Arduino, resulting in the respective movement in the server connected. We also purchased a component, HC-06 to allow for signals to be sent between the phone and Arduino.


Voice recognition controlled server (phone)


  • It took a many tries to get voice commands part working and we had to speak clearly and in a certain way for it actually register.
  • Servo movement is too small and weak.
  • Have to be controlled by phone where you have to press a button whenever you wanna trigger an event (not so intuitive)


Group members: Gladys, Siewhua & Valerie.

The field trip to the Human+ exhibition had been a eye-opening yet unnerving experience. In the exhibition, it explores the meaning and possibilities of the perception of humanity in a world of science and technology.

Optimization Of Parenting, Part 2

Optimization Of Parenting, Part 2 by Addie Wagenknecht shows a robot arm that gently rocks a bassinet whenever it hears a baby cry. This work touches on one of the many woes of parenting and the artist choose to replace the task of rocking the bassinet with a robotic arm. As a mother herself, she wanted to discuss the struggles to find a work-life balance by suggesting for robots to take over the more repetitive parental tasks. She questions the idea of what is parenting, motherhood and also this would affect the development of a baby.

In our current world, many various technology has been used to make life easier for us and it is handy to live side by side with such robotic companions. What makes this work so controversial was the fact that the role of parenting is still considered as sacred and crucial for healthy development of a baby in our current times. While it may seem like just a simple replacement of the mundane task of rocking the baby when it cries, it questions the idea of what is crucial and what is not as crucial when raising a child. For instance, this simple action might actually be crucial for the building of a parent and child bond. By replacing this with a robot “caretaker”, would the parent take less responsibility for their child? Would the child grow up thinking much lesser of their parents mean to them? I’m just wondering what makes the cut to be categorise under crucial and not. Would this also “benchmark” also eventually moves up with time since human nature seems to be one that is always insatiable and changing. By letting the robots take care of the child so that the parent can carry on with their tasks, would the child grow up learning from this as well and the cycle continues where when they’re busy with their own work too, the leave their now old and aging parents in the care of robots as well? In my opinion, while robot companions can carry out their given tasks well, perhaps even better than a human, they can never replace or replicate what a human touch is. What I mean from this is that i feel that while we can progress to be more “productive” but simultaneously, we might be gradually lose the meaning to be around other humans. Everything would be so fast paced, easy, convenient yet cold, rigid and emotionless.

Even though this whole idea of letting technology to be so intimately embedded into our lives, it is actually not a very unexpected scenario that we could be facing in the future, looking as to where our current society’s progress is now. It’s scary to realise that how dependent on technology we’re getting at. For most people in our times now, its safe to say that they cannot survive without their technology companions and while they try to reduce the dependence on certain technology, they always somehow, at times unconsciously or consciously get even more dependent on other technology. I think in this work, the main question is not about whether it is ethical or is it the correct or wrong way to progress ahead. Instead, I feel like to provoke some thoughts into us in the sense that not only about parenting, but technology in general, is this the future that we support in building? Is this what we want? And does it really land itself this need? To end off, this is just a random thought that I had from analysing this work but would humans become obsolete in the future since they might even be “no need” for us, like we’re not crucial too in the end?

Bird by MUV Interactive is a wearable controller that looks like a cross between a presentation clicker and a finger pulse oximeter. This works with a  receiver that is plugged in via USB, the system then can read the Bird wearer’s hand position, direction, movement, and even posture. It can also receive voice commands. Additionally, using projection technology, it is able to turn any surface into an interactive display.

It’s functionality doesn’t stop at screen navigation but one can also use gestures to turn the lights up or down, open or close the window shades, and turn the coffee machine on and off. Beyond the home, it could be used to operate drones or control simulations of surgical procedures. The system can tell multiple devices apart, so it can be used in a business or school environment for collaboration.



Ease of use

It seems like a device that is really handy and easy to use since it is intuitive. Being a wearable it is also designed in the way that one can simply slip this on a finger for use.


Since the device is capable of controlling devices and is also able to differentiating up to 10 other Birds, it could bring collaboration in projects to a higher level.


Sensory replacement

With it being so convenient and handy to use, does user’s touch sensory of actual objects get replaced? It raises the question of the “smarter” we go, does it actually make us “smarter”? Does it make people more lazy?


Yes it does allow for freedom but at the same time what the Bird controls still remains on the flat screen/a surface. I’m just thinking if it allows for non-2D but instead 3D control where it has the ability to for example not only pull screens from the projector to the table but it can be viewed in the air (like a hologram?) I don’t know, its just thought and perhaps our technology is still not yet there.



I feel like Bird is something inspired from the gaming equipment like WII and Kinect and has so potential when used in so many areas. For example, from discussion and presentation tool,  to household/devices remote controller, to something that could be used in hospitals where patients that are not so mobile can use this to get things done, to art and design tool.

If the device were to be used for therapy that trains one’s concentration, where it detects the user’s mind activity for it perform its duties. For example, to switch on the lights, users have to point/gesture to the device but focus to get the task done.

Motorized drink holder

Smart Home Device – A robotic drink holder that “serves” your cup of drink to you, based on your command.

Meant to use on a table or bed, when user is doing their work. The user will be able to customise the command for their drink to be served to them. If not, they can use a remote whereby buttons will be used to operate the drink holder.

Also, there will be timer whereby the drink will be served every half an hour or so, or when the face recognition detects that the user is thirsty (e.g. licking your lips).


  • CONVENIENCE: Cater to daily needs of the lazy
  • AID THE DISABLED: Bring accessibility to the lives of people with physical disabilites
  • ROUTINE: Ensure that the user constantly stays hydrated


  • Minimalistic
  • Wood + metal


  • Speech Recognition
  • Remote (buttons, up and down) to control the motor arm
  • Thirst detector using camera – Facial recognition when you purse your lips together/lick your lips – immediately serve your drink to you
  • Or Timer? Every 30 mins serve drink to you – “Please have a drink”

 Holder should speak – “Please have a drink.” / “请喝吧”

Potential Components

  • Arduino
  • Motors
  • Proximity Sensors (to detect the user)
  • Speech Recognition (either Arduino or PARALLAX)
  • Speaker
  • Camera 
  • *Bluetooth to connect to app? Think how to develop an App and connect to the holder

Example of a robot arm – the mechanics


*Potential further development app

  • Customized phrases to key into the app
  • Select language- Only English and Chinese
  • Turn on or off functions / customise the drink holder 

Group members: Gladys, Siewhua & Valerie.

Bearbot by Vivien Muller is essentially a interactive universal remote controller for smart home management. It can be trained to respond to specific gestures to control one’s household devices. It is very expressive and it interacts with users where it could also surprise them with spontaneous behaviors like sneezing, dancing, yawning and falling asleep.

It only needs to be trained once to learn the basic tricks. The mobile application tames him to identify the different remote control units:

It is able to control numerous household devices such as:

There is no limit to how much it can learn and users can replace as many remotes as they want with this device. Bearbot can also accumulate several functions in one gesture:

Interactivity through 3D gesture controller:

Moving from one device to another is easy :  

  • A gesture from up to down allows you to switch to the next device
  • A gesture from bottom to top allows you to switch to the previous device

Bearbot always displays the logo of the appliance you are about to control. You can rank and modify your devices list at any time on the app to simplify your navigation.




In the market, there are already so many versions of universal remote controllers but in my opinion what makes this one different from the rest is mostly the level of interactivity it has between the user and the device but also its capability.


It is easy to interact with the device where at times some gestures already instinctive to us. I also think the function where it can accumulate several functions in one gesture makes it really convenient for users who utilise more than one household device simultaneously. Most of all, I think the whole concept is a really a really useful idea to me.


I find how the way the bear reacts to the user’s actions to be rather natural and even life-like and even though its just a display on the screen. I really love the surprise behaviours of the device because thats what gives the “bear” a personality and character on top of the feedbacks from reading the gestures. I think it helps to develop a bond between user and device.


I think one of its strong selling element is how cute it is designed to be. The rounded body of this device also allows for it to fit nicely in the hand allowing for it to be easily carried around. It is also rather minimalistic but yet it still retains this attractive cuteness to it which makes the device rather endearing.


According to a study conducted by NSF International, remote controls count among the top spots for bacteria at home.

By reducing the need for excessive number of remote controls for the various device and integrating all of them into one general controller, it also reduces the amount of breeding ground for germs/bacteria. Since there is no need for users to touch the Bearbot aside from putting him into place, it is actually more hygienic.




For the device to work properly, it has to be nearby (within 5m) hence it has to be kept close at hand. I feel that this a limitation because that means if the user is constantly moving around to get things done, the device might have to be constantly moved around together with him as well which might seem like a hassle instead of convenience.

However, this can be solved by using the mini Bearbots which has no screen and is not interactive. They serve solely as a relay to expand the infrared range. While it solves the distance connectivity problem, i feel that this kinda defeats the purpose of the main concept a lot.

Learnability & Functionality

With just only nine gestures that one could do to activate the functions, it could get some time getting used to and it could even get confusing since people could forget what was what. Also, how fast/easy can it learn the devices that it takes over control for? For instance, we can easily control some devices through our smartphones with IR and this itself can be a hit or miss. Not all devices from the various brands can actually successfully connect or be controlled as told to. Another important aspect is the 3D gesture sensor and like all problems with sensors, how accurate is it or do users have to keep repeating to get it to read a signal? This also raises the question of is there really a need for this device as compared to a more portable one like our phones.


It is limited to only four hours in active recognition mode. To save energy, Bearbot hibernates when not being used. When hibernating, its battery can last for a month. But what for if you buy a device and not use it? Users would have to keep chargers close at hand as well. Perks is that it uses a Qi induction charger, so it saves users the trouble of plugging and unplugging the charger every time they want to do something. However, having to keep another device close is really quite a hassle and burdensome to some plus it takes approximately 4 hours to charge full. With its limited battery lifespan, it seems more fit to be a device used to perform more specific tasks instead of something that you could carry everywhere and anywhere to perform tasks as and when you wish.



Though it has a big element of interactivity integrated into this device, I feel that more could be done to take interaction to a even higher level. This is because the device somehow still feels rather static and “unmoving” since its only the display monitor that is interacting. Hence, to take it to the next level, I thought about adding motors and audio. Perhaps the device could move on its own, like a robot with voice recognition or facial recognition  to make it even more life-live and perhaps even with artificial intelligence…I feel that this device has so much potential in interactivity. While I like the minimalistic design, I wondered about what if the surface was more textile and resembling a bear’s fur at touch.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollutants have become the top environmental risk to the health of children since their immune systems and lungs are not fully developed yet at the time the exposure begins.

Urban Canary by Daniel Goddemeyer, David Schellnegger & Brynn Shepherd is a toy doll, based loosely on tamagotchis, that detects the levels of air pollution and it’s health responds accordingly. It is a toy that is designed to not just educate children about air pollution but also condition to empathize with the toy when it “falls sick” in a polluted environment simultaneously. The toy comes with a sensor for a face and a color-changing LED depending on the air quality. This is then linked with an app that tells you how much polluted air the child (and the canary) have experienced today.

Additionally, depending on the child’s age, general health and inevitable exposure to low levels of pollution in the urban environment, the sensitivity of the Urban Canary to pollution can be adjusted in the settings.

The Urban Canary starts out being healthy and well, indicated by its steadily blinking green pulse. Throughout the user’s daily routines the air quality level around them is being constantly measured and visualised with the the respective pulsing colour. With high levels of pollution, the Urban Canary starts to get uneasy and anxious by expressing itself through its LED and vibration, alerting the child of nearby air pollution. At extremely high pollution levels, the Urban Canary not only alerts the child, but also the parents. Exposure to high levels of pollution continually, the Urban Canary starts to become”ill”.

Parents then scan the Urban Canary through its app to examine it and find out what led to it to fall ill. The app will recount its recent encounters with polluted areas and state the occasions where and when it and the child were exposed to pollutants. For more detailed information, a summary shows the areas, times, and amounts of pollution that both the Urban Canary and the child were exposed to throughout their daily activities.

In their connected network, users of the Urban Canary can look out for each other and suggest unpolluted spots nearby to recover. By sharing their measurements with each other, they create a comprehensive pollution map that can be used to spare children and their Urban Canaries from excess pollution in the future. The map gives a good indication where the Urban Canary’s health may suffer or improve at which time of the day, so it (and the child) can avoid polluted areas nearby or find spots to take a breath of fresh air in between. When exposed to unpolluted air, an Urban Canary recovers quickly, indicated by its pulse changing color back to its original bright green.





Targeting to fight air pollution and it is adjustable to suit the conditions of the child for a more accurate gauge.


It is a device that could be simply easily understood by all ages. Since it’s targeted at kids, the minimalistic design and feedback is suitable for its targeted audience.


It teaches kids about a serious problem, air pollution, in a fun and non-textbook way. It also teaches them about responsibility.


Shaped like a toy and resembling an animal, it simulates kids to care for it more as if they are taking care of their own pet.


Utilizing playful relationships and emotional attachment to create new conversations around air pollution between child and parent.


The data is collectively collected and shared for all users of this toy.




I like the overall look to resemble an animal but having the sensor replacing the face fully might not be the best choice. Putting myself in the shoes of a child, I would be more enticed to be more proactively in taking care of my urban canary. Speaking of which, I did not understand why it is shaped like a bunny instead of a bird since its titled urban canary.

Years ago coal miners would carry canaries down into the tunnels with them. The delicate birds were more sensitive than humans to dangerous gases like carbon monoxide. If the birds perished, the miners knew it was time to exit the tunnel immediately.

I understand that it was drawing inspiration from the concept of the coal miner’s canary, perhaps it would be more relevant to be shaped like an canary itself. I also thought about it being more diverse in the shape and colour it comes it but perhaps this is food for future thought since I don’t know if it would stray from its original concept. Also, the color-changing LED could be located higher where the heart position might be instead of the waist so that it can draw the link to health better.


Can the sensor really perform as what it is described to be able to do? For instance, in their pictures they portray the children holding the device in the palms, out in the open but in reality would they would really carry them around like that? Won’t it get lost easily then (considering they are kids and kids tend to misplace objects so very often)? In fact, I think it is more likely if it would be mostly kept in their pockets or bag and i doubt they would diligently take it out to scan the air and keep it once again.


Being a electrical device, I think another important factor is its battery life. Its impossible that it does not require any form of charging or whatsoever. I did not find any specifications for its battery life hence, its dubious if this whole idea is even that plausible to work as it is expected.

Another factor is also the maintenance. Like all other technology there would be times it malfunctions or stops working. Considering how this is entrusted in the care of a children, shouldn’t there by some considerations of how careless/rough children can be and the device could possibly get destroyed/dented/spoiled?


For countries with polluted air almost everywhere, for example China and India. This device might render quite pointless.

Better link for its data visualisation 

I feel that the step of using the app to scan the device for more details could be better integrated since somehow it feels a bit out of the whole concept now.



As mentioned earlier, it could have a better design where the sensors could be better hidden instead of it being left so exposed. Also, there could be more interactivity between the device and the child to make their relationship more interpersonal. For example, the device could have a voice of its own, motors and perhaps even their own character. In more opinion, I think there are many potential ways this device could be expanded like it could further developed to truly take the role of a personal companion or to a more diverse medical tool.



Measuring Less to Feel More- Mickael Boulay


Measuring Less to Feel More by Mickael Boulay is essentially a type of Glucometer, a medical device that determines the approximate concentration of glucose in one’s blood. How this particular device is different is that the design of the device has a distinct focus on the interaction between the device and its user.

“Tools are supposed to help us. And yet, as Mickael Boulay discovered, that is not always the case.”

Field research showed that diabetic people can actually be stressed out by the device they must use to check their glucose level. Stress releases more sugar into the bloodstream, thus creating a vicious circle. This device aims to drift away from the focus on precise numbers (a cause that causes stress in people as seen in the video) instead of meaning. Hence, this device was created to be more intuitive, subtle and visual. Instead of displaying numerical values, the position of an LED light simply tells the user whether the blood sugar level is high, low or balanced, no exact numbers.


Users are definitely more comfortable and inclined to use this devices as seen in the video. Also, the reduction in stress factor of the device also serves to give a more accurate gauge of the diabetic value. I also feel that, it is also good in the way that users would also keep coming back to check their blood sugar level willingly and perhaps even a more regular basis which in turn can help some be more motivated to reduce their diabetes. The whole design by itself is also rather minimalistic and aesthetically-pleasing. It is easy to use and understand (a simple touch with the finger) which is user-friendly for all ages and especially for the more elderly who has poor eyesight, they can tell easier their level simply with the colour indicator. The removal of exact numbers and replacement of three main colour codes allows for users to feel more at ease and with the rough gauge, they can work on their various levels accordingly but this time more determined, more connected and not so affected by the jarring numbers starring back at them as if accusingly. The shape is also rounded where it is easy to hold it in one’s hands and carry around.

Overall, I don’t see much cons in this device other than the fact that users won’t know exactly how high or how low their value is now. However, I guess like Mickael Boulay mentioned, “maybe its not necessarily to be so accurate for those people.” Perhaps another factor was the



A change was perhaps in the choice of colours where it is more indicative and reflects the respective range better. For example, high could be of more warm colours like red and low could be of more cool colours like blue, vice versa. I think also instead of having to stick the piece of rectangular block together into the light emitting part of the device maybe it could be made to come out by a push of button or proximity sensor. This is also eliminates the chances of it breaking off or people accidentally losing the part since it is the most important part technically. By adding sounds, for example, levels that indicate low to be more cheerful and higher to be more encouraging could further help motivate users to reduce their glucose levels.

I can see this similar concept being implemented for the many various medical or emotion-detecting devices. It can also be seen implemented in devices targeted at the younger or elder seem it is straight forward and easy to use/understand. It could also be a audio-visualizer or simply a decoration. I think this device has many potential to be developed for other purposes with addition of the various sensors , LEDs and even motors.