Monthly Archives: November 2015

Next-Gen Haptics Prototype 2

IMG_20151124_125425 IMG_20151124_125452

This  is the second iteration of the prototype presented in Nov 10th, and it builds on the feedback provided during the first exploration exercise.

ALL feedback that I received was remarkably insightful, but during these two weeks of refinement I focused on  some elements first. I chose those ones  that I consider more difficult to implement or improve, either because they represent to re-think the strategy or because the technical challenges involved are higher.

Then, for this iteration I focused on:

+ Improvement of  “tactile” sensation
+ Static sensors
+ Sensor attached to other parts of the body or even to a cane

This new prototype, contains an infra-red (IR) sensor attached in the globe and introduces a softer glove that clearly increases the tactile sensitivity. The IR sensor is used to range objects close to the glove and the idea is to serve a complementary source of guidance.
The current behavior is as follows:
-The Sonar sensor -which is located at the goggles- detects objects in the range of 2 to 3 meters.  Unlike the 1st prototype, the sonar is not rotating but instead is fixed and consequently points to where the head of the user is pointing to. The feedback it provides is in the form of a sequence of pulses in three vibration motors that vary in both; intensity and frequency as a function of the range detected. Thus, only one vibration motor is actuated at a time.


-The IR sensor works as an additional source of feedback. If an object is very close to the hand it will trigger a hard ping at the forefinger as a warning to avoid a collision.

Findings & Insights
While the addition of a sensor outside the goggles proved to be a good way to complement the detection process, using an IR sensor did not provide the robustness needed. Based on the tests performed so far, it’s recommended to try other places for additional sensing such like a cane or other parts of the body.
Critique provided during the session, suggest the idea of placing a 360º sensing strategy which would allow provide feedback of objects approaching from the back. This is seen to be compatible with the idea of having either a rotating sonar or LiDAR or additional sensors placed in the back of the body.
Next Steps
 *Continue working to incorporate LiDAR sensor
*Refine the harness to make it softer and easy to wear
*Refine aesthetics to take it to the SF look
 *Explore additional tactile strategies to obtain the most effective

The main SF story inspiring this project is DAREDEVIL

537ba6f0e2fa3 daredevil-142012

Another inspiration is in Ironman, in regards to how super-technology can be dressed and the synergy between the body and the device.


Other source of inspiration was the personal impression I get from blind people, I admire how brave they are and their capability to overcome obstacles.  The way how our body can adapt our senses is simply amazing.

Picture2     Picture1

There are other good examples of  body adaptation, like what happens with people that suffers a stroke and they loose a cognitive function such as memory or speech. By practicing some exercises the brain is capable to re-assign other zones to take over functions left by the damage zones.

getty_rm_illustration_of_stroke IMG_20151120_141536

                                                  < Technology for fast adaptation >

  • Adaptability Is THE characteristic that has  allowed us to stay alive.
  • Our sun is a limited  resource , so ultimately, the human race will have to adapt to live out of earth in order to survive. This means to adapt to other gravity level, other sources of energy…etc


Human race evolves -adapts- by nature but this might take thousands of years!
Technology for fast adaptation has to do with creating devices that allows us to adapt to dramatic changes in conditions or environment within the time scale of a person.

A good example of technology for fast adaptation is found in the story of Neil Harbisson who was born with a rare condition in which he does not see colors but all his vision i s in grey-scale. Technology for fast adaptation was developed for him to hears the colors.


The objective is to create a device that could provide insights on the directions to follow in order to create a superior experience to blind people navigating a city. So the experience provided must be clearly superior but must be done with current technologies.

The prototype is not meant to provide a smooth or clean HW implementation (e.g. the harness from glove to goggles is still needed)

The are two main aspects for future development here:

+ Hardware (excellent execution of current technologies)
A consumer electronics firm (like Samsung) is a suitable company to take this prototype and concept to the “product” level. They would be able to provide all the robustness of the product. Such firm could start with products for safety assurance in industrial environments.

+ Strategy
It’s important to develop the right strategy to communicate the spatial environment through a glove or a larger wearable device. Braille code and is a good baseline but certainly it must be enhanced or complemented in order to communicate spatial information which is something yet to be developed. A Multidisciplinary team of researchers would fit perfect to take on here.


TopoChair v.2

The prototype borrows from Frank Herbert’s idea of a ChairDog. In Herbert’s universe the ChairDog is described in multiple stories as a ubiquitous object with multiple functional and responsive attributes :

The room’s standard model chairDogs had been well trained to comfort their masters, McKie noted. One of them nudged him behind the knees until he dropped his bag and took a reluctant seat. The chairdog began massaging his back. Obviously it had been instructed to make him comfortable while someone was summoned…
He indicated a chairdog against the wall to his right, snapped his fingers. The semi-sentient artifact glided to a position behind McKie. “Please be seated.”
McKie, his caution re alerted by Bolin’s reference to “uninhibited conversation,” sank into the chairdog, patting it until it assumed the contours he wanted.

One of the interesting attribute was that Herbert thought of the ChairDogs not as artifacts with multiple actuators but thought of them almost as if they had lifelike responsive qualities and moved without the use of motors or actuators.



The chair responds to the users weight and encloses the user with a soft shell when the user sits on it. It is intended to function as a personal ‘petting’ space , where the user can think and contemplate without external distraction.

* Side note
I have been thinking of the more subversive applications of such a product . One of the biggest application areas could be in the Parliament/ Legislative Houses where rogue politicians can be trapped in such a artifact when they have gone overboard. Imagine Trump’s chair pulling him in, during one of his hate tirades. More discussion about this in class. Reminds me of Herberts’s ‘Bedog’ and its associations with the saboteur . This is the Venus flytrap end of the spectrum .

Some of the other possible application areas are:
1. As a medical enclosure .
2. Again in a medical theme where the ends of the chair have embedded body sensors . The person inside could have a non invasive body scan
3. Sleep pod
4. Privacy pod in public areas
5. Love Seat – enclosure triggered by two people sitting on it
6. baby crib
7. Audio pod/enclosure
8. Walking beast chair
9. Massage Chair
10. Chair with musical instruments on the appendages
11. Adaptable chair based on user’s ergonomics.
12. Chair that complains if you sit too long in it.
13. Posture improving chair
General themes

Topo Chair is based on investigating material behaviors and exploring possibility of using complaint mechanism within the framework of animating built environments. Complaint mechanisms are flexible mechanisms that can transfer input forces (such as the weight of a person sitting on the chair) at some other point to perform some usable output action (such as generating a sinusoidal motion on the chair surface, massaging the person sitting on the chair ).

TopoChair is also conceptually based on the idea of ‘hylozoism’, the ancient belief that all matter has life. It seeks to question the popular science fiction imagination of the built environment of the future being largely static .
The current prototype is at 1:5 scale with three materials systems . Polycarbonate based rigid elements , spring steel based flexure elements and polypropylene based flexible side fronds .

Next Steps

1. Work on electronic components of the product and the tweet routine
2. Improve the assembly details , side mesh details and the proportions.
3. Scale up
4. Explore behaviors ( both as a topology as well as response of the object to the user )

Vaporwave: Alienation Aesthetics (Ass-Dead-Dicks)

The assignment for this week is to normalize the weird and weird the normal. Relative to the rest of the class, my project would probably be characterized as weird that needs normalizing. I understand that the concept of synthesizing estrogen in your kitchen as opposed to running to Planned Parenthood to acquire your monthly subscription is against the norm, almost a political statement, unveiling the ways in which our bodies are subject to hormonal management by institutions, unveiling the biopolitical power that humans have attributed to the estrogen biomolecule. (BIOMOLECULES TO BIOPOLITICS === HORMONES WITH INSTITUTIONAL BIOPOWER!)

The Martha-Stewart-inspired-cooking-show-turned-kitchen-performance-video idea was never a way to “normalize the weird.” Society has done a good enough job naturalizing the idea that women are biologically inferior and are better suited for domestic duties and child-bearing. Open Source Estrogen: Housewives Making Drugs is a critique of this naturalization. It is taking the molecular tactics used to augment, control, manipulate female and trans bodies and situating them in the very environmental and capitalistic realm used for subjugation: The Evangelical Church of Martha Stewart Omnipedia. The contextualization of estrogen production in the cult of domesticity sublimates everything the cult represents, everything the kool-aid-drinking-cult-audience believes in.

With that being said, I think the most ingenious form of normalization (normalizing the weird) is the sublimation of ideologies that are perpetuated by the state. When I first heard a vaporwave song, I didn’t know what the fuck I was listening to, put simply because I was being mind-fucked. Vaporwave is a musical genre that is comprised of slowed-down, chopped-up, re-mixed 80s elevator music inspired by new age and smooth jazz, the type of background music you hear in shopping malls and Pantene commercials. The drone and phaser effects added to the tracks often leave listeners with a sense of alienation, discomfort, and dehumanization, much like capitalist america. The name comes from the term “vaporware” which is used to describe technologies that are announced to the public, but never actually reach the market, a sort of false promise that is used to manipulate consumers through “selling smoke.” Another inspiration comes from a Marxist term used to describe the constant change that society is subjected to under bourgeois capitalism: “all this is solid melts into air.”

Tomorrowland Orb: Part 2

Progression of Project 1

This project builds on my Project 1, which can be seen here:

Based on SciFifingerDetection

This project is most closely associated with Tomorrowland, seen here:

This project addresses some of the concerns and continues of the evolution of my project.


For the second part of my project, I addressed two major improvements of the orb.