we have another round of user testing in a week, so we spent some time today thinking about the shape of the device. we decided that the spritzers should be angled (instead of lying completely flat or standing completely vertically) to dispense the scent to the user’s nose most effectively.
to start, i just cut up an old box and arranged the spritzers inside. a diagonal piece of cardboard was sufficient to elevate them.
ultimately, the box i started with needed to be larger, with more structural support and a hinged lid. the spritzers needed more height, so diagonal supports with a steeper angle. the junk shelf had everything i needed. this is where i left things:
my friend showed me a very neat project that new york magazine just produced about one block in bed-stuy. it features interviews, video, infographics, and lots of links. i’m thinking about contacting the producers to find out about their budget and timeline, and i’ll write more about what i think of the piece soon.
went to the creative time summit at boys and girls high school in bed-stuy
ran my coffee shop idea by sharon lee de la cruz, an itp resident, artist, and anti-gentrification activist
i’m making a twitter remix meme generator. it pairs a user’s twitter timeline with a set of archival images. you pick the tweet you want from the timeline, choose the archival image you want, drag the tweet onto the image, save, and share. sounds simple, but proving difficult-ish to code.
i’m interested in the medium of the meme. but i’m more interested in what can happen when we drag the present back to the past, what new things emerge when we ground our constantly updating now in history, when we acknowledge that we do in fact have and live in and are responsible for histories we did not choose. this is a political project. governments and institutions have twitter feeds where they perform the best versions of themselves. meanwhile, history has archival footage of how their actions have lined up with their stated values over time. i was intentional about pairing the twitter timeline (the israeli defense force) and archival images (palestinian refugees from 1948) i did, and the user can’t change them—can only work within them. that’s a thing about history.
user testing was today. i need better “way-finding” (for lack of a better word) on the page. people didn’t know whether they were supposed to pick a twitter user or hashtag they wanted, they couldn’t find the slider to scroll through archival images, they didn’t know they were supposed to drag tweets, etc. lots to figure out still, and i’m looking forward to getting it working.
we went back and forth for a long time about which scent-dispensing mechanism to use. initially, the motorized one seemed bulky and overly complicated for what we needed. the motor would rotate CCW to lower the dispensing arm and then CW to raise it back up and stop dispensing. we didn’t think we’d be able to preserve that functionality when we ran it off the arduino. but we ultimately did decide to go with the motorized one because
gears are cool, and
it was actually going to be simpler to hack the hardware in this one than to build a fan to dispense the car air freshener, build a mechanism to open and close its vent, connect the whole thing to the arduino, etc.
once we decided on the motorized air freshener, we had to figure out how to bypass the button activation on the air freshener and control it with the arduino instead. dhruv writes about the process here.
dhruv put together this system diagram to show our device’s inputs and outputs. what inputs go to the arduino and what outputs does it return? what inputs go to our music software and what do those inputs trigger?
i created this user interaction flow diagram to help us design for all possible user scenarios.
user interaction flow diagram
from the user diagram, we realized that there are more scenarios than we’d previously thought and that we need to get more specific about how many scents we’re using and when each one is triggered. the matrix below is a visual representation of all four scenarios:
possible user scenarios
user starts out singing the wrong note and eventually finds the right note *this is the ideal scenario and the one we’d designed for already
user sings the wrong note through the whole interaction
user sings the right note through the whole interaction
user starts out singing the right note but eventually changes to the wrong note.
how does the scent-dispensing mechanism behave in each of these situations?
i went to kmart to research smell dispensers. they generally fell into these categories:
heat disperses the scent of oil or wax
spritzer dispenses scented spray
a fan disperses the smell of scented goo that sits in a permeable pouch
kmart’s expansive scent section
i went with a motion-sensing spritzing dispenser and a dispersal mechanism that works with a fan. these two give us more control over when we start and stop dispersing smells; with a candle or another heat-based mechanism, dispersal is slow and hard to contain.
scent dispensed by fan
when i got back to the floor, i took apart the motion-sensing spritzer. the construction is surprisingly simple and elegant: a motion sensor or button activates a battery-powered DC motor, which turns a series of gears, which pull an arm into contact with the scented stuff and ~*spritz*~
well. an unexpected part of my pcomp final experience has been learning about group dynamics. melanie, zoe, and i have decided not to work together. our collaboration was frustrating, but we’re all grown-ups and aren’t taking the group incompatibility personally; we’re still buds and have a lot of respect for each other’s work. no, seriously!
i’m grateful to be working with dhruv and viniyata on a thing that’s out of my comfort zone in a bunch of ways—think scent, music, motors, and indian classical music. so far, way fun. group chemistry makes all the difference.