Sunday, 30 November 2014

Narratives-Max/Msp patch and Arduino

As we have finally got a clear idea of the narrative of our object, which is looking at how netsukes were an agent of carrying objects and memory throughout its role in the history both in Japan and Europe. We decide to look at what could Netsukes be carrying for us in modern life.

We sort of made a list of any important things we have as modern citizens-virtual identities, personal information, etc. And at the end we figure that our memories could be one things we can be more cite about. Perhaps a tiny objects that could help us to share our memories together would be an interesting project. Therefore our objective is to make a portable projector that could be carried with a person and able to project their memories in a visual form, i.e. images and videos.

For that I start making a Max/Msp patch which plays a list of videos in a loop. Ive also connect an Arduino with it acts as physical controls, with fast forwards/backwards, jump-to-frame and select frame functions. All to enhance the experience of a potential social situations where the user can inspect one specific moment in that video.

Obviously I didn't make the patch all by my own, the tutor Nick helped me to started the project and I sort of research the way of doing it along the way. I already have experience of using Arduino and censors. that particular part of the project isn't terribly difficult. At the end of the term I have got a working patch with all the controls ready which does just about everything I have mentioned above.

The following is the screen shot of the patch I created for this first prototype 

Sunday, 23 November 2014


For the V&A project, the group partner of mine is joyce. We decided to go for Netsuke as our object. It took a long time before I realised we dont need to tells the narratives of the object itself but sort of expand the narrative into modern life and present it in a interactive way. We really lost a lot of time focusing on irrelevant areas.

At first I was really worry about the narrative of our object, as the object is quite obvious and simple in terms of telling a story. I read some "The Hare with Amber Eyes" trying to come up with a narrative that is compatible to interactive installation. Yet I just couldn't find a useful element in its historical content. Little did I know it can actually be a lot more simpler.

The narrative we are exploring and presenting does not have to be a historical fact or story, all we are looking for is a small element of its property and expand it into an experience which allows the participant be be exposed to the narrative we have chose and trying to tell. 

I was really baffling about the main outcome of the project and couldnt get over with my mind that I was trying to show the "history" of Netsukes instead of telling its potential "narrative"    

Overall, We wasted 2 weeks of time trying to come up with a narrative while other groups have already start making MAX/MSP patches and prototypes. This was a difficult start.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Narrative - Netsuke

In the project, Narrative, we were asked to pick an object from V&A museum, which we think is interesting in some sense, an object that carries an unique fact or story that can be explore or extent with modern ideology. And finally display the narrative we like to show in a form of interactive object.

I have to admit, I had a feeling that this project is not going to be easy to me and I was right. from picking the object to exploring it`s narrative and present it as an interactive museum installation. The process and amount of difficulty has gone way beyond my expectation. This will be quite a challenge to myself.

After some walks at the museum, there are many have some potential to be "Interesting", yet I could not know for sure as there is little to none useful information on most of them, eventually I had to picked up some, which I need to guess if it would be useful. After wondering around the museum, I found myself deeply into this collection of exhibits- Netsuke.

Netsuke was invented around 17th century. Netsukes were used for a specific function, the Japanese traditional dress- Kosode and Kimono had no carrying pocket, their solution was to place such objects in containers hung by cords from the robes' sashes. 

Technically Netsuke is not a single object but a collection of physical objects, I am not sure if that fits the brief but I would like to choose this thing anyway because I feel that these are way more familiar to me than some other European inventions as Japan and China share a similar history to an extent and it makes more sense to me.

I have also found an interesting background of Netsuke, British artist Edmund de Waal has written a book about the Netsukes he was inherited from his family "The Hare with Amber Eyes" 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

IDEO Methodology

We were introduced to IDEO method cards today. I have heard of those cards previously but never really look at them and use them in my projects. SO basically IDEO method cards are divided into four categories, which is: Learn, Look, Ask, Try. Each of them contain several cards with unique method can be used in design thinking. 

We were asked to rethink and redesign Drinking Water Fountain, obviously it is not the most interesting things to design, but the principle lay behind this is to get us to engage the methods of IDEO method cards. We have one week time to come up with a new design of a drinking water fountain by using the category: Learn and Look in the method card pack. As a group we choose few cards from these categories and generate a new idea.

What I think of this method card pack is that it is mighty useful for design works. When I was doing my BA projects, I often encounter the situation that I knew my workflow is not well enough, not complete enough to create a design which reach the level of mass production. Maybe it was not necessary to meet those levels as it was not required by our brief, I was still not satisfied. The designs I made were just lack of something, both in research and physical prototyping. 

And now I have been introduced to method cards, I believe that this will be able to help me with my design work, it provide many other way of thinking about or trying on something, a more creative and thorough way of designing product/services.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Soundscape project final result

After a week since we started working on editing soundscape project, We have finally come together and finish or "journey" as a whole.

My work section

The problem we have last week, was mostly because we decided to work separately and try to put things together afterward, which was never going to work smoothly, we have different working style, different opinions on each part, therefore its always troublesome to do it this way. Luckily we ditched that workflow and have everybody working on one machine only, does help the efficiency and the issue of individual working style.

Joy`s work section

The final soundscape we put together, was a story of a woman experiencing high pressure from her surrounding world eventually lead her to her own end. 
In the soundscape, we started up with relatively peaceful sound, and gradually intensified the amplitude and effects, to signified her being pushed to the edge by the exploding sounds in her head, and after she ended her life, it went back to a peaceful and more cheerful melody, she can finally rest in peace. 

Mohamed & Joyce`s work section

In this project, we are suppose to use only the sounds we have recorded few weeks ago, yet in the construction of this story, we find it very difficult to not to use other sound resources, for couple of reasons. First of all, We did not record everything we need as we did not know what sort of "journey" we were going to construct, therefore we will always ended up lacking one particular recording or two. Second reason is that, on the day of recording, was an open area with noisy background, was next to impossible to have a clean recording without any background noise, even with any noise reduction tool the file is not going to be as clean as straight recording from the source.
Group work section

Overall I would say this was a successful project to our group, we had differences on many things but we managed to overcome them and create a wonderful(in my opinion) piece of journey.
Group work section 

Final Result

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sound Walk Project-The Making

Sound Walk project, few weeks ago we took a walk from London Bridge to St Paul, and recorded some sounds on the way including Borough Market, Riverside and Tate Modern. Today we grouped up to edit those sounds together to create journey of sounds.

I personally think that we dont need to really make up a story at all, some edit the sounds together and give it some sense of differences in between each part of the journey, this is simpler and easier, yet Mohamad seems to really like the idea of making a story, so we just follow his idea.

The story goes, A woman just had a Psychotherapy with a bad end of it, she sort of eager to escape the place and the noisy city around her, so she had to experience a stressful sounds of urban environment and traveled to a seaside with some much relaxing sounds such as children playing, tropical music and the waves of sea, and finally settle down with a calmer sound.

This was the idea, although there are some changes alone the way, I still dont seem too work well with Mohamad in this case. Not that I only want an easy things and get it over with, I just thought some part of the story can be different and we dont need to fallow the initial idea. Well, this is what would happen when people are working together over a project, argument and disagreement are bound to happen, and eventually one is gonna give, in this case is me...

So I had to work my part over again(sort of), to fit his ideal soundscape outcome. I am not saying this is bad or what, its just something we will encounter sooner or later as this is what always happens in design world. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Arduino Workshop

The first Arduino workshop. I have already use Arduino before and have the basic understanding of it. I am also quite familiar with electronics and prototyping. So the section played out to be fairly easy for me.

We basically looked at the Arduino Uno and the coding platform, and some simple setting with the Arduino pins, such as #define directive, void setup and void loop, which is all good fun.

Although I can understand everything in the section, I can tell why the code is set to be in some certain way, I am still quite far from writing my own code without looking at some references. which is why I need to learn more about it and practice more of it too. 

Later on that section, Tom gave an example of cooperating Arduino with Processing, using 2 anolog reads and a digital read, with serial port to draw on Processing. 

The following codes are from Tom.

#define X_POT A0
#define Y_POT A1
#define CLR_BTN 7
void setup() {
pinMode( X_POT, INPUT );
pinMode( Y_POT, INPUT );
pinMode( CLR_BTN, INPUT );
Serial.begin( 9600 );
void loop() {
Serial.print( analogRead( X_POT ) );
Serial.print( "," );
Serial.print( analogRead( Y_POT ) );
Serial.print( "," );
Serial.print( digitalRead( CLR_BTN ) );
In the Serial.Print(",") means show a comma in between each variable on 
Serial Monitor
Serial.println() means to create a new line after the each run.
import processing.serial.*;
Serial arduino;
int x = 0;
int y = 0;
int prev_x = 0;
int prev_y = 0;
void setup() {
// Create a VGA canvas
size( 800, 600 );
// Get a list of serial ports
String ports[] = Serial.list();
int id = 0;
// Find an Arduino tty.usb* port
for ( int i = 0; i < ports.length; i++ ) {
if ( ports[i].indexOf( "tty.usb" ) != -1 )
id = i;
// Connect to the Arduino
println( "Connecting to: " + ports[id] );
arduino = new Serial( this, ports[id], 9600 );
// Start looking for data
arduino.bufferUntil( '\n' );
// Set background colour
background( 204 );
// Set line thickness
strokeWeight( 2 );
void draw() {
// Turn on stroke
stroke( 0 );
// Draw a line from current to previous X,Y
line( x, y, prev_x, prev_y );
// Store X,Y position for next frame
prev_x = x;
prev_y = y;
// Set the fill colour to transparent white
fill( 255, 255, 255, 2 );
// Turn off stroke
// Fill screen with transparent white
rect( 0, 0, width, height );
// New Serial Data Event
void serialEvent(Serial p) {
// Trim white space and split data on commas
String[] data = split( trim( p.readString() ), ',' );
// If there are 3 bits of data process it.
if ( data.length == 3 ) {
// Update X/Y positions for drawing
x = int( map ( int( data[0] ), 0, 1024, 0, width ) );
y = int( map ( int( data[1] ), 0, 1024, 0, height ) );
// If 3rd data item is 1 clear the screen
if ( int( data[2] ) == 1 ) {
background( 204 );
// Key Press Event
void keyPressed() {
// If key is s then save image of canvas
if ( key == 's' ) {
println( "Saved" );
I know the program Processing, but only had a chance to use it for once or twice, 
therefore I am not exactly clear why is it coded in
this way but I guess this is something I will and keen to learn in the

Walking in the city

We were given a piece of reading last week. Which is a chapter of a book, and its the most difficult piece of writing I have ever read. Although it is one confusing reading, it actually describe something very interesting inside the book.

To generally sum the chapter up, it basically says that the city view from the painting from the history was a result of imagination as the painter in that era did not possess the technology to see the city from a high point of view. Only until the recent decades with the invention of tall buildings and aircrafts we are able to observe the place with our own eyes from high up. 

And as urban designer are more familiar with designing from the view point of up high, the result isnt exactly well behaved like they would have imagine, only from the eye level of view to design the place will suits the people`s need more. We are not going to see what other people see unless we look at the place from their position. Designers think the plan is perfect did not change the fact that they design the plan only to suit their taste. 

Also the author mention something like, only the users to decide which road they wanted to take, which route is the route for them to walk. Designers has no control of what the user is going to use their product/design, they can only make the product to perform best in what its originally designed to perform. 

And the users do not need to care about how others think of them, the way they use a particular product, because in the end, the only audience that matters the most is yourself. How you think you should be using this product, how you think this product is going to perform, how you think this product should costs...Its all about you and very little about the others nor the designers. And perhaps again this is what human centred design is about too.

Link to Walking In The City-Micheal De Certeau (Review)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


It`s quite a different day today as we are asked to dress up as someone else. and describe this person we are dressing as to the group. I am dressing up as my flat mate who studies PHD at SOAS.
Then I had to tell the group what this person is like, what he does, whats his personality. So as other people had to to as well.

In the mean time, we took notes of other people`s person of choice. every detail. Then in the afternoon, we were divided into 4 groups. choose one person to design a product or service just for that person.

Our group has chosen An An as our target customer, we designed a virtual boyfriend/ virtual relationship for her as she showed some keen interests when we accidentally came across the topic of virtual relationship. Our design is a centralised object with hologram projection, which project the image of the "boyfriend" onto the environment which she lives in, in this case will be her house most likely.  The image will be chosen from her boyfriend in dream, and she will be able to do all the customise to fit her need.

This section is to drive us the designers out of ourselves and focus on a third person, the target group or person of our product. Every now and then, when we are designing a product we tent to put our own perspective into the design, and ignore what the target customers would really want out of the product. If this happens, then we are not designing for the others, we are designing for ourselves. We are practicing here to leave our opinion upon the things we are making, and replace it with the opinion of our client.

We observe what does the client want, and rather we like the idea or not. We as designers, our job is to design things for the others, there is more to it in interaction design, too. User centred design again is to focus on the user, how they think and how they use, very little about us.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Affordance Group Critique

Today`s group critique, was about the affordance task we were given last week. To be honest I did not really fully understood about all the high,low,placebo affordance before, so i was kind of unsure for the things i have picked. 

During the critique, we were asked to pick five of our favourite examples from other people, it didn't need to be one from each category, just the one we like. once we have picked our fav, we will talk about why it is our fav and how does it answer the requirement for its assigned affordance.

One i remember very well is the placebo affordance from Pim, which was a gaming mouse designed to be customised by the user to fit their own need. Shial picked it as low affordance because he has an experience of using it(which is own by his friend) yet he would accidentally push some other bottoms on the the mouse then trigger some other functions within the application he was working on. In therms of usability upon the mouse itself to people who is not the original owner, this would feel to be a low affordance because the mouse setting was not customised to fit everyone`s using habit/need but the very person who owns it. 

So I did not agree that to be a low affordance and certainly not placebo affordance which Pim assigned it. Yet, it doe not change the majority of the group as they feel all the bottoms were only to confuse them instead of improving the productivity. 

This argument leads to a good discussion, which is: How do we exactly define an object`s affordance? 

Now-a-day, many things have been designed to be a specific type of product, which serves some specific group of people with a more complex system or functionality. so are we judging these type of product by a common view or a more professional view. For instance the gaming mouse, for a larger group of everyday user all the customisation and bottoms seem to lower the affordance because they don`t see the necessity of these extra features. On the other hand, many gamers will appreciate these functions because normal mouse along isn`t enough for their need, therefore the gaming mouse products are high affordance for them because it suits their need.

One other example, Photoshop and ease to use photo editing app for mobile. One would say photoshop defiantly has a higher affordance due to the mobile apps are simply not enough of functionality to achieve what they wanted to achieve, that is a professional view. For the everyday user view, they just want a simple app to make a simple editing to their photos, they do not need photoshop`s fancy features as it is too complicated for them, therefore they thing the mobile app has a higher affordance than photoshop. I mean these two views are valid in their own opinion, but with a different result. There is a need to define Affordance in a more detail way if we are to take it to a further discussion or consider it to be part of our design work.

This is the thing I learnt the most and really got me thinking about today, what are affordance? which target group are we talking about and which is the most important group we need to care more? I really learnt a lot today on the definition of affordance for different people.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sound Walk

Sound walk. Sound in Interaction Design could be a feedback of the design or sense of direction.
At first in the studio, we did a little exercise, close our eyes for 1 minutes and focus on all the sound around us, during this 1 minute, I noticed that the environment I am at, in this case the studio, is far from silent, there was the noise of fan from the projector, sound people walking by the studio, the breath of two classmates sitting next to me, the construction site outside the building, traffic, airplane flying by...all sort of sound but silence.

This is quite interesting because that many, if not most of the design work is base on the sense of seeing, not hearing. we the designers and students often focus on what we see, the colours, shape, functionality of objects.

Sound, like images and text, could send messages, or feelings to the audiences, There is the noise we like also we don`t like, By doing sound walk, we absorb the scene of environment we are in, in a different way, therefore we have a different feeling and opinion about this particular place.

In the afternoon, we took a walk from London Bridge through Borough Market, walked along side the river to Tate Modern and to St. Paul cathedral. We record many different type of sound, the traffic, train, , the rain, the river, the crowd....and many more.
This walk has given me a different view on this route. I walk this route every now and then with my camera, I usually focus on the scene that is worth capturing with my camera, but never really care about the noise around this area, but after today`s walk, through the recorder and my earphone for everything I heard, this proven to be an interesting day and I am looking forward to edit those clips together to complete our task.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


Today, in the morning we gave the group self-introduction just to get to know each other, its quite fascinating to know that many people in the groups possess many different skills in terms of art and design, But what`s important about today is the topic we talked and given task to complete.

Affordance is the main topic for today. Many years ago before I came to the england, I read this book about industrial design, which does include Affordance in the book. I was inspired by it yet did not really realize it`s full meaning until today. Affordance is kind of message which the object send to the user.
Johnathan Ive said in the documentary film "Objectified" once said " When you seeing an object, you make so many assumption about that object in seconds, what it does, how well it`s gonna do it, how much you think it should cost. The object testified to the people who conceived it, developed it, manufacture it."
Which means that we are making options on the object`s functionality, how well it`s going to perform and how easy it is for people to use.

We learnt that there are number of factors which decided an object/service`s affordance. The relationship between the product/service and the users, visual clue or non-visual clue upon the operation of the product or service, mapping between control and function, conceptual model and feedback of product and service. 

And we were given a task to find an example of each affordance(High/ Low/ Fault(Placebo)/ Hidden/ Anti) for next week`s critique.