Device 2 (2011)

The second iteration of interactive device is now in the participants’ home. Based on the feedback I received from Device 1, the next step is to explore more specifically what it is about tactility and vibration that the child finds appealing. To do this, I put together a very simple system of three joysticks as physical controllers.

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Work-in-progress internal components of Device 2.

Inside each of these joysticks, there is a small DC motor, with an offset weight. When these spin, they are off-balanced and therefore vibrate. Each joystick functions in the same way: full-up runs at full speed; full-right runs at 3/4 speed; full-left runs at 1/2 speed; and full-down does not run at all. Each direction also triggers the same sound event for each joystick and sends usage data to Pachube, so I can track how the device is being used.

Because the focus is on tactility for Device 2, I chose to use wood instead of acrylic for the housing, for its connection to physicality. I don’t encourage anyone to try and build something like this with a hand jig-saw. My effort is rough, but I’m going to say that it fits in with the tactile-hand-made-aesthetic of the device, and leave it at that.

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Wooden housing for Device 2.

To try and extract information about texture vs vibration as the sensation which the child is attracted to, I used a different texture for each joystick. By making each texture unique, but keeping the vibration trigger the same, I hope to see some patterns in the usage data. If the child likes the vibration, but texture is not an influence, I expect that each joystick will be used in a similar way. If texture is the main attraction, then perhaps only one joystick will be used, but randomly. If each element is a contributing factor, then I might see a combination of both, or perhaps no pattern at all.

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Completed Device 2.

This will be the last device that connects to a Pachube feed, as I’ve found that the anecdotal reports from the child’s parents and therapist are far better at expressing the physical and emotional impact of interaction. Obviously this data is subjective, but so is my own interpretation of a Pachube feed and a scientific study, this ain’t.

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 5/6/7’.

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