Honours Studio 1 – Week 02

The wonderful Reactable. Anyone can play.

I’m now traversing the prickly world of research ethics. I won’t make this a post complaining about bureaucracy though. Working with an at-risk group such as autistic children, it’s important to take their involvement with the project very seriously.

To apply for research approval from UNSW, I need to get consent forms from the parents of the children I will be working with. But before I can have any contact with these families, I need research approval from the Education and Research department of the organisation assisting me: Aspect. The first step obviously being to express to them what my project will be.

After last week‘s overly complex concept presentation, I decided that a deliberately simplified explanation would be worthwhile not only in class, but for presenting to Aspect. Some examples of the type of object/device I will be creating went a long way to expressing what I hope to achieve in this project.

Often, when describing the concept, the first thing people think of is a screen-based interactive device, like the iPad. What I actually have in mind is the removal of obvious technology and building interaction with something more akin to a toy. The following are examples I used for this weeks presentation

Reactable

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Whilst the size and scope of the Reactable is beyond what I have in mind for this project, it does present some interesting methods. What could be particularly useful is the idea of collaboration in play. There are many levels of collaboration in Reactable: that of the user and modules, that of the modules themselves and that of multiple users with the modules. The latter is particularly important, as this is an enabling type of interaction, allowing some level of communication between people.

SCÅL

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SCÅL is a wonderful project. A media player may not be what I’m trying to create, but the idea of using more familiar objects for interacting with is a powerful one. Not to mention the robustness of wooden blocks being pretty handy for children!

Kinetic Memory Triggers

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This is a lovely artwork that I discovered over at Creative Applications a while back. A deceptively complex network of servo motors bring life to something generally inert: rubber. In addition to reusing ‘lo-fi technology’, this was a great example of something that creates movement on a fairly small scale.

WiiMote Mod for People with Disabilities

Making the Wii more accessible. Image: Instructables.

This is a hugely worthwhile project, with plenty of information at Instructables. It might also be a chance to reuse the WiiMotes that I first put into service for the dance project in 2009. Being able to build upon the rich amount of technology in the WiiMote (bluetooth, IR, accelerometers etc) and even couple with an Arduino board (or two!) could be a fantastic starting point.

In fact, that’s exactly what I plan to do: crack open my WiiMotes and trawl the interwebs for modification tutorials. Although I’m not yet ready to start creating devices specific to the sensory issues of particular children, I am thinking about the core of how these devices will function.

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