IxD and Assistive Technology

Device 1 (2011)

Device 1 (2011)

A couple of updates as I head into the final session of my Honours year: The first iteration of the interactive device is up and running, and I’m now preparing to deploy it in the participants home. I’ve probably written enough on the electronics process already, so I think I’ll let the pictures (and video) do most of the talking this time around…

I placed RFID tags inside coloured balls, to be the trigger for sound events. Each ball houses a unique tag, which will also send me a notification about which audio event has been triggered…

RFID tags hidden inside foam balls.
The insides of the auditory module.

The tactile module relies on pressure (via flex sensors) to fire up vibration motors. The more pressure that is placed on the surface, the more the motors will vibrate. I’m sent the on/off state for this section…

Tactile module.

Finally, the visual module is controlled by a proximity sensor. When an object is within a certain range of the sensor, the EL wire will light up. Again, I’m sent an on/off state for this module…

Visual module.

With the participant being a 2 year old child, it’s important to cover the surface with a soft shell. I bought some high-density foam for this purpose, which also doubled as a means for inserting the sensors…

Soft covering.

To visually separate each module, I used adhesive felt. Unfortunately, this didn’t allow the EL wire to shine through properly, so it’s now sitting on top of the visual module (entirely safe for contact, as it doesn’t produce any noticeable heat)…

Device 1 completed.

I also ran into a final problem with the felt, when I found that the thickness of the yellow centre point over the RFID aerial caused some trouble when reading the RFID tags. I replaced the circles with rings and this is the final outcome…

I’ve mentioned a couple of times in this post about the data being sent back to me from the device. This is the feedback mechanism for the project, and will hopefully allow me to get a feel for which senses the participant chooses to engage with the most. Based on this information, the device will be redesigned twice over the next few months.

Because the device is powered by power over ethernet, it’s simple to get a data feed coming from the device in realtime. For this purpose, I’m using Pachube to track and log feedback. In addition to the states of each module, I’m also tracking the temperature inside the device, simply for safety reasons. The realtime Pachube information below will only show recent usage, so until it’s installed in the home, things might look a little quiet…


Note: This is a ‘journal entry’ as part of a longer Honours Studio documentation process. The post above was previously titled ‘Honours Studio 2 – Week 0′.

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