This project is completed.
I’ll use this post as a mini press release.
Memorable Weather is a barometer that is designed to trigger memories. Elizabeth is ninety-two and occasionally struggles with her memory. She has a great interest with weather and often consults her barometer. She is housebound which prevents her from returning to her birthplace of Glasgow. She spent most of her life in the city and misses it dearly. When she taps the Memorable Weather barometer it displays the current weather condition in Glasgow through the dial, which uses scottish colloquialisms for each condition. This triggers any memories when she recalls a similar weather condition from all those years ago.
The One Great Image
Quite a drastic change has happened. Using the white side of the cardboard looks nice but it’s very difficult to keep clean, especially when you are trying to fit everything inside and constantly testing it. I kept the same design, plus a few tweaks so the glass can sit steady. The biggest change is that i’ve used the cardboard side. I feel this makes it look more like a prototype, I thought it looked too finished when it was white. The dial is now laser etched onto the white card and placed on a black background.
The coding and mechanics are complete. Instead of having a definite value for each weather condition I inserted a random number generator. This generates numbers five more and five less that the actual point. This means when it is continually tapped it will move slightly and struggles to give an accurate reading, just like a barometer. Video to follow soon!
I still have my final video, one great image and one hundred words to complete.
I’ve brought all the separate parts of my Arduino together so I can start piecing it together. So far I have my piezo sensor mounted into the barometer to provide an input. I have my servo motor connected as the output and I have to two working together. The PHP page it also completed. It uses Google’s weather API and currently separates all the weather conditions into four categories (heavy rain, rain, cloudy, sunny). Each category is assigned a number so the Arduino can understand it easily.
I still need to code up my Wi Shield, which allows the Arduino to connect to the PHP page. Then I need to use the number, from the PHP, to tell the servo which position it has to go to.
These are the basics of my project. Once I have completed the tasks above I can focus on the visual interactions (how it links to Glasgow, how the needle moves etc.)
Finally making some good progress with this concept. I have worked out exactly what I will be displaying and how I’m going to display it. I’ve taken inspiration from my Gran’s Phillips radio. I like how all the radio stations are packed together in a strip but they can be easily read and picked.
I replaced the stations with weather conditions that have been derived from the Scots language. Roughly half of these terms are for rain of some variety as I feel this reflects the weather we typically have here! It is then bent into a circular shape to fit with the barometer theme.
Below is an early version of this and it will give a good indication on how the final prototype will look.
This idea has been developed further. Instead of having a designated tapping area (the circular protrusion on the frame), I have placed the tap sensor underneath a platform that the perspex sits on. This allows the user to tap anywhere on the glass and it will function
I started playing around with the cardboard we were given to shape our objects. It’s pretty standard cardboard, about 3mm thick, with a plain white face. My intentions are to use the standard round face most barometers feature. I wanted to create a beveled edge for the frame but this is proving difficult. I can get the right sizes but the cardboard does not bend easily in that shape.
As you will see below I’ve substituted a simple vertical edge for the time being while I tweak my current method. This is roughly the shape and size I will make the object. Its 22cm in diameter and 5cm thick with the internal section being 16cm in diameter and 2cm thick. There is easily enough room to house the arduino, inputs and outputs without it looking too big. The circular parts were cut using a laser cutter and the walls were by hand using a scalpel and ruler.
I had a good think about what’s going to be required and realised I have my work cut out. So i’m making sure I start early on my Arduino. As the whole system works by a tapping input I began there. I’m using a piezo sensor to detect when my object is tapped in a certain area. At this stage it is concealed within a small square of cardboard.
So far I have managed to :-
get an LED to flash every time the sensor detects a tap.
get an LED to turn on when the sensor is tapped three times.
The next stage is getting the circuit to turn on various outputs that I will require the object to do. Some images below of the circuit and two videos of the tapping inputs I listed above.
Got it to execute a desired function (in this case – wait 800m/s > LED on > wait 3s > LED off > Reset counter). This is exactly what I need and I can now use this as an input for my device.
I’ve chosen the Weather object as my final idea to develop. I feel this is the most credible concept as the arduino coding will be easier to implement and I have a solid source for my networked data.
I have decided that the object will resemble a circular barometer, similar to my gran’s, and it will be operated by tapping a particular point on the casing.
I am still trying to figure out what I want the object to display, in terms of weather, and how it will display these. I’m pretty sure temperature is going to be conveyed by colours via LEDs. For wind speed and direction I’m considering the use of a fan and I am really considering the Scottish slang for various phenomena.
I plan to have everything finalised by the end of next week but for now I have plenty to work with, as you will see in the next post!
Weather is concern for my Gran and it’s something I can’t quite wrap my head around. She taps and consults her beloved barometer every time she passes by it, but why? Being housebound she is not really effected by the weather. I haven’t been able to get home to query this with her so at the moment I can only assume.
It’s a good conversation topic for her, something she knows about, like up to date news. The weather affects everyone so I guess it gives her concerns over family and the weather they are experiencing. Heavy snow fall, for example, is a concern because a relative may become stranded for a while and the road conditions are bad for travelling.
A question I asked myself is ‘why does a barometer have to tell you the weather of your current location?’ I thought back to my Gran expressing how she misses Glasgow and combined her interest in weather with the city.
Simply put, the idea is an object that will display the current weather conditions in Glasgow. I’m looking to capitalise on certain aspects like temperature, wind speed and direction, visability and phenomena (wind, cloud, rain, snow, fog). Conveying these conditions will be important. Some ideas I have had so far include pulsating LEDs for temperature, some form of spinning mobile for wind speed and Scottish or Glaswegian slang for phenomena.
Viewing her garden is a favourable past time for my Gran, normally from her kitchen window with a cup of tea. This is an important area for her as she never had a garden in Glasgow and has spent years shaping it. It is something she has created and admires. She has a variety of plants and flowers that bloom throughout the year along with two apple trees that provide a good crop every year.
She particularly enjoys the wildlife that her garden hosts. She is always talking about birds that she has spotted and she knows exactly which tree each one is nesting in.
My idea is to add some fun to this past time. I would like to create a device that will display what specific types of wildlife are present in her garden depending the month or season. I would mostly focus on birds as these are more common. This would let her know what birds to look out for. She could also tick off any that she spots.
The information would have to be displayed in a way so it would be easier for her to remember. A printed card would be good as it is a physical item she can keep with her.
I didn’t really have much enthusiasm for this idea. I liked it but couldn’t really see myself creating it successfully. That was until I discovered the Wild Scotland website and its Wildlife Calendar. Finding this has made the concept more credible and I now feel i’m going to struggle on what idea to pick.
A large part of my Gran’s day is spent watching TV. She particularly enjoys watching old films from her era. Although she gets a paper TV guide she struggles to read it due to small printing. My Mum will often ask her if she watched a certain film the night before but she will have missed it and is often disappointed.
My idea is an object that will display when a film of interest to her is starting and what channel it is on. I struggled to develop a medium to convey this information but decided on using a cinema related theme. Dimming a light or lights is very symbolic in a cinema as it normally means the film is about to start. I’m also looking at the use of sounds. Examples of these are the sound of spinning projector reels, hushing noises as the audience quietens down and theme tunes like Universal or 20th Century Fox.
Some information sources I have found in the past few days.
One of my current ideas involves the use of weather conditions so I have been studying several weather websites. I’m mainly looking for temperature, wind speed and direction and visability. Weather Underground was used by Ali for our introduction to PHP. This website is really easy to get data from and also has good number of conditions I can use. BBC Weather is another useful resource and is similar to Weather Underground. I’m also looking at various weather API’s as these can be used with PHP and XML and could be easier to manipulate.
Another source i’ve been researching is local wildlife. The RSPB website devotes a page to each month. These pages convey the wildlife that can be found during this month or season. Wild Scotland has a brilliant section similar to the RSPB but its information is much more versatile and will be easier to extract with PHP.
This is a great piece. It is an installation for Wikipedia’s 10th Anniversary Party, created by Dean McNamee and Tim Burrell-Saward. The installation visually conveys how many users interact with the website.
A series of 18 printers suspended over the entrance lobby printed a physical record of individual contributions, along with an excerpt summarizing the article edited.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see data printed off into a physical form. It also shows how tactile a piece of paper can be as guests wander underneath to pick up and read the information.
Source and Images [Dean McNamee]
I stumbled across this as I was researching into what content could be fed to a device through a network. The Prayer Companion was designed by the Interaction Research Studio from Goldsmiths University and was headed by Lead Professor Bill Gaver. The Object is a scrolling LED screen that displays the latest news headlines to the Poor Clare nuns of St. Josephs chapel in York. The headlines serve as a focus for the nuns prayers and connects them to the world outside of the chapel.
This ties in with my DIXD project as the nuns had only received prayer requests by post, telephone and within the past year, email. They were very reluctant to try out the technology, much like my chosen grandperson, and The Guardian states that “It took months of negotiation for the Goldsmiths team to persuade the nuns to try out the technology.”
Sources [ Goldsmiths, The Guardian]
Throughout my research i’ve been looking at various concept videos. I really like ‘What is being creative?’ by Kristian Larsen. The only explanation of the device is through its use. A voiceover talks about multiple definitions of ‘creativity’ and the different features of the device react to these. It’s very minimal but it conveys itself with clarity. This concept is also very credible as I can easily see something like this being available in the near future.
Another video is ‘The future of screen technology’ by TAT. Again the information for this concept is shown through its use. There is no voiceover or text explaining what it is or does, yet we can clearly understand it’s purpose. This use of minimal information works really well and I would like to implement it into my project during its later stages.
This is my third year project for DIXD (Digital Interaction Design). The brief is to conceive, design, prototype and communicate a networked object for a grandperson.
We were asked to informally interview an older person either within our family or one who is closely related to us. I chose my Grandmother Elizabeth. She is 92, as i’m constantly reminded, and lives by herself. She grew up in the city of Glasgow and spent a large part of her life there. She began working in a shoe shop where she spent most of her time running away from the rats in the storeroom. She left this job before WWII and served in the Army. During this time she travelled to Africa and was in London during the time of The Blitz. After the War she worked as a housekeeper and childminder then retired. She moved to Tillicoultry with my Grandfather in 1987 and has been there since.
She has been housebound for several years but gets visitors nearly every day. My Mother always visits on Tuesday and Sunday. My Aunt and Uncle visit most Saturdays and she has a cleaner and her hairdresser once a week. She spends most of her day watching TV, very loudly as she is slightly deaf, and looking out into her garden. She loves looking at the birds and told me how she had spotted her first Robin of the winter. She also reminisced about Glasgow and how she would like to go back someday. Her only source of communication is the telephone but with her memory becoming worse she often forgets conversations. I visualised this below.
While walking around her home I noted several colours, patterns/materials and details. I photographed some examples of these.
Pink is her favourite colour although she prefers lighter shades.
Patterns and materials include the carpet in her hallway, wooden cladding that covers the walls in a few of the rooms and a cable knit jumper.
I discovered a lot of details throughout my Grans house but I picked the three below as they associate more with her day to day life. The barometer always gets tapped when she walks past but she pays less attention as she does not leave the house very often. She likes to listen to the radio at night before she goes to sleep. I really like the huge Phillips radio she keeps in her kitchen as its really striking and still works. The last detail is a medication management box. This is another daily routine for her and this makes sure she takes the right medications at the right time.
Below are a collection of other photos I took and can be used to provide further insights.
This is my first proper blog (not counting my rather disappointing Design Studies blog) and I’m planning on making this a hub for the projects I’ll be working on for the remaining time I have at University.