pcpmp final notes

After the whole pcomp class learning process, I have to say that I learned a lot. Before this class, I have never learned anything about the physical computing stuff. Now, I realize that pcomp is a mighty tool for every designer making his or her ideas to be interactive and real. Two points about this class are impressive to me. The first one is the well-organized syllabus, which help me a lot. I could almost everything to start a project. Secondly, Tom is really helpful during the learning process. He always could provide pertinent and helpful suggestions to lead us a better direction or solution for our project by his Quick-wittedness.

At first, our final project was a vending machine which could detect people are coming and give people something by people doing something in front of it. We recalled that the experience when we went to some restaurants or banks, there is a bowl with candy in it. There is no this stuff on the floor. However, this “bowl” should be interactive to cater to the ITP impressive. In addition, the floor is a friendly space. Greeting with each other is the easiest way to keep this benign atmosphere. So, we came up with the idea that greeting with this box, it will open his pocket, and people could get an ITP candy from it. During this process, we thought a lot about some other interaction details. Such as, is the waving movement too simple to be interactive enough? And how to let people know this is a box you could get something in it, and how to let people have the interest to keep playing with this box again and again.

Followed by this idea, I want to make it in a Wall-E looking, because there supposed to be a kincet on the top of this box, which detects people’s movements, which will make it looks like a Wall-E. However, we changed some parts of our idea after the mid-term.

Before mid-term, I have some problems on making the mechanical structure works, for example, how to make the hinge part to open and close the pocket. I always think about the decent way. However, in the mid-term class, Tom said think about more alternative ways to make it work should be the priority. I just realized that I was in the wrong direction. After that, I built the whole inner structure in a more effective way with different thinking. This was really helped me a lot.

Also, we changed some other aspects about our design as well. We want the interaction process could be more interactive and intriguing. Instead of just waving arm to the kincect, we want to create a mini game to make the experience more interesting. Basically, the difficulty and reward are two essential elements for a game. So, we treat the “getting something from the box” as the reward of breaking game successfully. The game is like this:

At first, player is a small bubble. The rule of this game is always could eat bubbles smaller than you. If you touched the bubble (dropping from the top of the screen), which is bigger than you, players will lose their points. Eating bubbles smaller than player’s bubble, play could get the points and player’s bubble will getting bigger and bigger to eat more bigger bubbles. After accumulating certain points, the box will open his pocket for players who win the game, and players could get something from it.

Here comes the new question. In our opinion, for each time, player could only get one thing from the box. Of course, like all the vending machine, there is a stable mechanical system to guarantee this point. However, we cannot realize such function based on our knowledge right now. So, we try to find out alternative methods. First of all, limit the size of the room after opening the pocket; secondly, pocket will be closed automatically after a period of time (there is a sign to inform players to get reward within the time limitation). From user testing, a user told us if there is a sensor in the pocket to sense whether player have already taking their reward or not (by using light sensor), which is a really good idea, but not suite for our case. In this way, player could get all the reward stuff in the box easily :).

For the pocket opening and closing structure, I just use a servomotor and a length of regular cotton thread. It works pretty well. I am glad that the inner room of the box is big enough for putting all the circuits in and an inner container to take a bunch of rewards.

The only thing left is attaching the processing mini game with Arduino. We check the syllabus again and figured it out very quickly. We put the closing and opening as 0 and 1. Transfer such information into the digital port in Arduino to control the rotating of servomotor to open and close the pocket. And I really love the sound effect when servomotor is rotating.

The most helpful and meaningful thing I learned during final project is how to solve problem quickly and putting the outcome into testing as soon as possible, which could keep you effective in the upcoming iteration design process to refine your project.