Feb 232015
 

This blog post was written by, and highlights the Fall 2014 final project of, EMAC undergraduate student Justin Ozuna. Follow him on Twitter @TheOzunaVerse. The assignment for which he made the project can be found here.

Pet ownership is a way of life in the United States. According to humanesociety.org, more than 80 million dogs are pets in U.S. households. Eighty million! For perspective, there are an estimated 316 million people living in the United States. Nearly 47 percent of households own at least one dog, and the upward trend doesn’t show any signs of decline in the near future. In fact, pet ownership has nearly tripled since the 1970s.

Where there are numbers, there is a thriving industry. Americans will spend $58 billion on all pets combined this year. Walk into any store and there’s likely to be an aisle (or two) of pet food, snacks, toys and accessories. What you won’t be able to buy in the store, however, is time. After a long day of work and a full schedule of evening activities, Fido is ready for a long walk. The problem is that there’s not always time to take your pet for a stroll in the neighborhood before the sun goes down and the stars fill the sky. Walking your pet at night means you’re at the mercy of overcautious drivers and hyper-focused neighbors to stay safe.

Continue reading »

Feb 162015
 

This blog post was written by, and highlights the Fall 2014 final project of, EMAC undergraduate student Nilufer Arsala. Follow her on Twitter @NiluferArsala. The assignment for which she made the project can be found here.

Young woman wearing a surgical mask with red lights in the shape of an "X."

EMAC undergrad Nilufer Arsala models her Vaccination Mask

Artist Statement

My final project is mean to be an artistic statement about the most recent anti-vaccination movement. Parents can have many reasons not to vaccinate or to delay vaccinations of their children. Some cite religious reasons and some may be more concerned about the health risks of the vaccines, as opposed to the actual diseases they are meant to protect against. It seems that while the anti vaccination movement had gained some steam, recent  findings about the resurgence of disease and the retraction of a paper linking vaccines to autism by medical journal The Lancet may be slowing the trend down a bit.

This project struck a chord with me because I am a first time mom with a very young son. The first year of his life I too doubted the amount of vaccines and asked the doctor repeatedly how safe they were. I even went as far as to call all of my friends who are doctors and ask their opinions as well.  In my experience there were a couple of things that set my mind at ease in regards to making sure my son received his vaccinations in a timely fashion. The first was that I received vaccines as a child as well and seemed to turn out ok ( I think?) and the second was that these vaccines really can protect him from getting very, very, sick. Of course every parent has the right to choose what is best for their family and this piece is not meant to serve as judgment one way or the other.

The piece itself comes in the shape of a surgical mask. Embedded in the mask are red LED lights that blink in unison and are in the shape of an “X”. The lights paired with the mask are symbolic of trying to stop the transmission of disease.

How to make it!

Continue reading »

Jan 122015
 

By: Jonathan Gonzalez

The Nixie is a wearable quadcopter that can take flight with a simple hand gesture, position itself to take a photo or video of you, and fly back to your wrist. Team Nixie took 1st place in Intel’s Make It Wearable competition with a flying prototype, and will receive $500,000 to continue their endeavor.

Christoph Kohstall, CEO and Founder of Nixie, is an avid rock climber who had long tinkered with drones, but disliked the idea of having to pilot the drone while he was rock climbing. His hands are obviously busy while rock climbing, so controlling the drone became a distraction. He created the Nixie, which is light, wearable and hands-free. The prototype is said to be programmed with a few modes including: “boomerang,” “follow me” and “hover.” “Boomerang” launches the Nixie, which takes a photo or video and immediately returns to you. The “follow me” mode keeps the Nixie close to you as you move, while the “hover” mode leaves the Nixie at a stationary vantage point. Joseph Flaherty at Wired.com states “Expertise in motion-prediction algorithms and sensor fusion will give the wrist-worn whirlybirds an impressive range of functionality.”

Kohstall has a background in rock climbing, so the Nixie was initially envisioned for use in outdoor adventure sports. However, during a video interview with CNBC Kohstall states “Nixie can be the next generation of point and shoot cameras”.

This could change the way we look at photography all together.  Aerial photography is becoming more popular and the Nixie’s self flying features can open the doors to even the most amateur user. The simple user interface can make it accessible to even the most novice tech users, such as children and grandparents. Prices are predicted to be “a bit more than a GoPro”, but no hard prices or dates have been set as of now.

What does Nixie winning Intel’s Make It Wearable contest say about our society? A wearable drone is a fun and cool idea, but the runner up, Open Bionics – Low-Cost Robotic Hand, is focused on helping amputees by giving the gift of a low priced, nearly fully functional robotic limb. We are talking the beginnings of cyborgs! Is technology so mainstream (for lack of a better phrase) that we should focus our efforts, not to mention funding, on something to help us show off our Instagram-worthy adventures? Is getting a better selfie and auto-flying cameras the next big technology we should go after? I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I am a amateur photographer/filmmaker and love new and exciting gadgets to play with. But, how are innovating self flying drones helping technology and wearables get to the next level? Can we even classify this technology as wearable? I don’t know the answers, but I’m curious to see what comes from all of this.

Sources:

Nixie Website

Intel’s Make It Wearable

Nixie Facebook

Dec 102014
 

by Christopher G. Lewis

The final results of creative projects often differ greatly from the original concepts. It’s certainly true for my EMAC 6372 final project, the “Carbon Monoxide Sensing Hat.”

noise hoodie

It only required forcing existing tech into a hoodie.

 

 

The first concept I tried to develop focused on noise pollution and frustrated me completely. It was a creative and technical non-starter with only one positive, NO ARDUINO CODING. I stubbornly persisted with it because my fearful dread of code outweighed the logistics of a proper concept I actually felt strongly about.

 

 

 

During the third week of November, still mentally bankrupt over my first idea, I realized the anniversary of the day I started smoking was Wednesday the 19th. Had it really been 20 years since Nov. 19, 1994? How many cigarettes is that? What do my lungs look like? How much money spent?

Let’s see… 1 – 2 packs per day at approximately $5 per pack ($1/pack in 1994, but as much as $10 in recent years) I’ll guess $7.50 per day spent for this calculation (about 1.5 packs/day).

$7.50 x 365 = $2,737.50, $2,737.50 x 20 years =

$54,750

I need to quit, but I’ve tried just about everything with limited to no success. I know cigarettes are bad. It says so right on the pack.

 

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

Then inspiration struck. I found my final project concept.

“The Black-Lung Canary CO Sensing Hat”

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name “Black-Lung Canary” references the small birds miners once used to detect deadly gasses underground. The hat functions similarly to the bird, but hats don’t die. Among the thousands of other chemicals in cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) is a proven killer. It’s the same gas released from a car’s tailpipe.

Parallax, Inc. produces an Arduino compatible gas sensing kit. The board comes with two sensors, the MQ-7 (Carbon Monoxide) and the MQ-4 (Methane).

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

The gas sensor board functions by heating up the MQ-7 sensor to purge particulates and then runs a sensing cycle. It must be calibrated by adjusting the alarm trip level in conjunction with the sensitivity level. I set both to about .8V, sensitive enough for smoke, but not overly sensitive. That took quite a bit of time as I don’t smoke inside my house and cold temperatures will affect the reading. Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

Guardians of the Galaxy: A thrilling tale of adventure, thievery, danger, romance, and incredible heroism in the face of great evil. The original Marvel comic book characters—dating as far back as 1969—have been changed several times over the years. New stories and new timelines have followed the first tales. But one thing has remained the same—except in short-lived alternate timelines, the leader of the Guardians has always been a man.

In today’s most recent iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy—a fantastic film adaptation by Marvel Studios—Peter Quill of Earth, also known as Star Lord, steals a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space and thus becomes the main target of a manhunt led by the villain, Ronan the Accuser. To fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill bands together a team of misfit space anti-heroes who become known as the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy on IMDB

[image via IMDB.com]

Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

By Amanda Sparling

A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds and you can’t breathe.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, controlled breathing, and grounding can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being. However, it is not always easy for a victim of a panic attack to be aware of what is physically happening to them at the onset of the attack and therefore they are unable to treat and calm themselves in the moment.

Additionally, panic attacks rarely happen in a controlled or private environment. Being exposed during a panic attack can heighten the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and fear and lead to complications if an attack occurs in an inopportune time such as during work or in a social setting.

Using sensors that measure specific physiological functions such as heart rate, biofeedback teaches an individual who suffers from Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder to recognize the body’s anxiety response and learn how to control them using relaxation and grounding techniques.

This project attempts to address the needs of a person who suffers from frequent panic attacks or panic disorder by allowing them to be aware of their physiological state in order to reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and aid in reducing the duration of a panic attack. Panic attacks are distinguished from other forms of anxiety by their intensity and their sudden, episodic nature. Through the Anxiety Cuff device a victim can take control of an attack and return to normal functionality as quickly as possible.

A person who is using the anxiety cuff will wear the Polar Heart Rate Transmitter which will measure their heart rate every second.

They will put the cuff on their arm, as pictured below, and go about their usual daily activities.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.47 PM

While an individual’s heart rate remains constant, there will be no change in the device and some light to moderate movement and exercise will have no effect on the device as well. However, as the wearer begins to experience the symptoms of a panic attack their heart rate will begin to dramatically increase.

Once the Heart rate increases to an exceptionally high level, the Arduino triggers the vibe board to apply vibration to the pressure point at the underside of the wearer’s wrist.

This notifies the wearer that they are experiencing the physiological symptoms of a panic attack and allows them to begin integrating relaxation and grounding techniques to halt the attack at it’s onset.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.26 PM

If the attack is acute, and continues to progress the vibrating motor will continue to apply pressure to the wearer’s wrist while the heart rate is elevated. What this continued pressure will do is to allow the wearer to focus on the vibration and the physical environment – grounding themselves and allowing them to begin the process of re-associating their internal and physical states to help the attack subside.

Once the heart rate had reduced the lilypad vibe board will turn off, and the wearer can resume their normal activites.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.58 PM Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 
Ariana Berdy's circuits project. A felt strawberry cake

Photo by Ariana Berdy

As a busy college student I often forget or don’t have time to eat. Often times I have observed that society in general gets so wrapped up in the things that they are doing or need to get done that they place a minimal importance on eating. This food-comes-second lifestyle is unhealthy. Making a habit of skipping meals can lead to negative consequences such as physical fatigue; mental exhaustion; and , when you finally do eat, overeating and calorie loading (Skipping meals can have negative consequences).

In response to the “food comes second” way of life I have created a project that directly deals with a person’s relationship to their meals. My project idea is to create a “health bar” or “fuel indicator” for a person to wear. This indicator acts as a timer. The timer measures the time from their last meal or snack and counts down to when the wearer’s next meal should be. The health bar then visually represents the drain of energy as time passes between meals. Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

By: Thomas Hall

The objective of my project, The Money Shirt, is to draw attention to the extreme disproportion of wealth across the world. Because of geographic and socioeconomic boundaries, it is difficult to conceptualize the vast disparity in spending power in other nations. The Money Shirt is designed to create a wearable, visual aid that does exactly that. Designed and ordered through Uberprints, the front text reads, “Today alone, I’ve spent more than the monthly minimum wage of:” and is followed by 6 countries in order of the average wage of unskilled laborers, bottommost being Uganda, and topmost being Mexico. Indonesia recently voted to raise its minimum wage to $206 dollars a month, besting Mexico’s $126, so the order will have to be viewed as more of a perception of the countries’ worth, instead of concrete order of incomes. Researching the minimum wages was a challenge in itself, as countries like Haiti fluctuate rapidly, and others like Uganda have such massive inflation rates that one US dollar is almost 3,000 Ugandan shillings. Beside each country is an LED connected to an Arduino Lilypad and a button. With each press of the button, the next LED lights up in order from bottom to top. While it would be impractical to manually activate the LEDs every time the wearer actually met the subsequent minimum wage, the existing design is effective at starting conversation about wealth inequality.

The finished Money Shirt, front.

The finished Money Shirt, front.

After receiving the shirt, I laid out the Arduino Lilypad, button, and LEDs, and drew prospective lines on the interfacing with pencil where the conductive thread would run. My first issue arose when I realized that the interfacing I had bought, which was labeled “non-fusible” was actually very fusible indeed. It was also far too thin not to tear. I bought some thicker material, and it has worked well. Next, I discovered that one of my LEDs was failing to light. I switched LEDs, and still had the same problem. After venting on Twitter and testing two separate “pedals” on the Arduino, I looked closer at my code and discovered that while doing preliminary testing, I had deleted the 6th LEDs “int” setup indicator. Replacing this line of code fixed the issue immediately, and I was able to light all LEDs using alligator clips.

The working circuit. Battery to the right, button at the top.

The working circuit. Battery to the right, button at the top.

The code functions to turn each LED on in sequence, using each numbered press up to 6, then turns them all off on the 7th press. I used the lithium-ion battery included in the Lilypad kit. It provides plenty of power for the 6 LEDs. After successfully testing the LEDs, I hand-sewed them through the interfacing using conductive thread. The Arduino and LEDs are sandwiched between the interfacing and the shirt, so that they do not come in contact with skin. Contact had the possibility of causing a short. When using a sewing machine to stitch the interfacing to the shirt, I made sure to leave a section of the interfacing free so that I may reach in and turn the Arduino on and off, as well as swap out the battery. Overall, the hand-stitching was time consuming, and the conductive thread was prone to tangles and breaks, but I found it effective when secured evenly and tightly to the nodes of the LEDs and Arduino. My previous project had the issue of crossed threads, due to the confined spaces, but my drawn paths ensured that each connection led away from any others.

Almost done

The interfacing about to be sewn into the shirt.

Of all the pieces that we studied this semester, Sindelokë’s blog post, “Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege,” was one of the most relevant to my project. The post states that “Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about” (Sindelokë). The Money Shirt isn’t meant to shame the wearer or those around her or him, but instead to bring as much attention as possible to the hardships and differences of groups that we may not typically consider. There is already something ironic about having a shirt custom designed and printed, ordering electronics, and using sewing machinery and a laptop to make a product based on exposing monetary privilege. This irony was not lost on me, but in a way it serves to further accentuate the mission statement of the Money Shirt. The piece “Sweatshops and Cynicism” acknowledges that “clothes can express one’s position of social power, and that ability is one driver behind the desire for new trends” (Pierlott). This drive can be seen in the evolution of athletic wear from performance-based garments to everyday attire, often with predominant logos indicating high price tags. The Money Shirt can hopefully symbolize a similar drive centered around mindfulness of financial independence.

Another article that we reviewed in class, “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion,” asserts that for wearables to succeed, they have to be as much about fashion as about functionality. The driving quote that made me create an aesthetically pleasing shirt states, “if we are going to be making these wearable devices and gadgets and we’re asking people to wear them, they need to look good” (Silverman). While the project is about bringing monetary privilege to light, it is also an experiment in wearable technology, and therefore should, in my opinion, push the boundaries of subtlety while still incorporating technological aspects.

 

Below is monetary information, as well as sources:

Uganda

Less Than $1 (http://goo.gl/3RwRfj)

Cuba

$8.49 (http://goo.gl/dMneB9)

DR Congo

$65 (http://goo.gl/KBf4Om)

Indonesia

$206 (Last year saw minimum wage gains of 44 percent in Jakarta, leading employers to cut 200,000 jobs) (http://goo.gl/tezsv1)

Haiti

$90 (http://goo.gl/K0QrCP)

Mexico

$126 (After a 2015 increase of 23%) (http://goo.gl/tqc6BL)

 

 

Silverman, Lauren. “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion.” Art + Seek. March 13, 2013. http://goo.gl/q4qsPe

Sindelókë. “Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege.” January 13, 2010. http://goo.gl/uV7TMn

Pierlott, Matthew F. “Sweatshops and Cynicism.” Fashion – Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking with Style. Ch. 11. 1st ed. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2011. http://goo.gl/uvXwBr

Dec 072014
 

20141201_190658

It is acknowledgeable that throughout human history, people have always recognized and maintained a sense of privacy. Nestled betwixt a plethora of issues facing this realization is the idea that there does not exist a single and precise definition of what exactly privacy constitutes. Dated research (circa 1881) presented an oversimplified yet often quoted idea that privacy was the “right to be let alone” (Craven Jr, 1979). It wasn’t until a few years later that the idea that privacy deserved legal protection began to circulate, spawning mass intellectual debates on the issue. Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis produced a highly influential essay in Harvard Law Review in 1890 that introduced the fundamental principle that “the individual shall have full protection in person and in property… it is our purpose to consider whether the existing law affords a principle which can properly be invoked to protect the privacy of the individual; and, if it does, what the nature and extent of such protection is” (p. 37). In American society, as well as other western cultures, one of the most clear cut and expected notions of privacy involves the ability to control exposure of one’s body (Konvitz, 1966). The author discusses how culturally we are made to believe that being naked is something to be seen as shameful (as passages from the bible give way to this), and we have a right to not be exposed without or consent. While this project doesn’t focus on the distribution of anything pertaining to a violation of someone’s right to maintain privacy of their naked body, it does touch on having a right to not be publicly displayed to others, whether it be in concern to their body, clothing, etc., within certain public or private spheres without their consent. In discussing video voyeurism, Lance Rothenberg said, “The failure of criminal law to recognize a legitimate expectation of privacy in the public space tacitly grants the video voyeur a license to act with impunity, and leaves victims with little or no recourse” (2011, p. 1146). Voyeurism in this case is the action of spying on persons engaged in intimate behavior, such as undressing or other sexual activity considered to be private nature.

Continue reading »

Dec 072014
 

musichoodie_completeThe original idea behind the Theme Music Hoodie was to be able to have a quick way to a.) share your favorite music with others and b.) carry your own soundtrack with you wherever you go. The hoodie has an LilyPad MP3 and two speakers sewn into a piece on lining on the inside of the front pocket. Five buttons are located on the left side of the pockets, and each button triggers a different piece of music loaded from a micro SD card.

Music is closely tied with one’s identity, emotions, and culture. It can play a significant role in not only shaping who we are, but also how (we want) others to see us. Many romantic couples have a song they call their own, and most people have a favorite artist or band, even if it changes frequently. People wait in long lines for the doors to happen before a concert. People scream and cry during performances. Religious music has long been a mainstay, with many of the West’s greatest composers wrote songs of worship. Break-up songs and movie soundtracks have a unique ability to draw out the emotions of an audience.

What you wear signifies something to those around you. While Elizabeth Wilson was expressly writing about dreadlocks in “Oppositional Dress”, the sentiment remains the same for any style – it “is an open and deliberate sign of affiliation and both friends and foes recognize it as such” (Wilson, 255). One’s style categorizes him into a specific cultural group of like-minded individuals (Barnard, 20). In this way, fashion goes hand-in-hand with music. Many people connected to a particular music scene already “wear” their music on their sleeves in the form of band/music shirts and clothing, pins, buttons, accessories, and patches. The Theme Music Hoodie follows this kind of DIY aesthetic, complete with a few patches ripped from old t-shirts and some pins I had lying around and the added bonus of pushing the music/fashion idea a little further.

Continue reading »