[thesis prototyping] :: techmmmology

So my new concept is geo-locative sensor tracking with a modular pack. Basically you pick and choose what you want to track (ie carbon monoxide, dust, noise pollution, alcohol[?], light pollution, or methane gas), and this data is recorded. Then you transfer it to an online database, and can watch a personal log of your own data collection over time. Last step is to connect individuals to each other via the database, so you can see how your friend in Beijing experiences his/her journey from home to work every day, and relate on a new level.

The other idea is an educational tool for kids with asthma. Child reports, i always get headaches when visiting a certain neighborhood. After wearing the module, the child can make a connection between their immediate environment and it’s affect on their body. More carbon monoxide exposure on this street corner is causing you to have your headache. You were there at 2:15pm last wednesday.

Much much more on this later.

I began to start prototyping the technology. The first piece was GPS, because i am the least familiar with this of everything I will be working with.

I ordered LadyAda‘s (aka Limor Fried) GPS shield kit for the arduino. It took me about 45 minutes / hour (very easy) to put together (see images). The best part about this, was her shield is already designed to write to an SD card ! Which has been my plan all along (i’ve seen several arduino writing to SD card projects, so I thought it will be useful).

Now that I have this working, the next step is figure out how the sensors will be attached. I think for this round of prototyping, I will use USB ports. I actually purchased about 5 of these in China over the summer when I was there with school. I’m going to post pictures of the circuit i made on perfboard, and my first attempt at a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) version.

This weekend i attended a class at NYC Resistor, which was rad, i learned how to use EAGLE to design PCB files, which i would then send to a manufacturer who would print the green boards and send them to me. It’s expensive, and chris hennelly at school convinced me to use the laser cutter and make DIY PCBs. Check out the results, i will have new ones tomorrow…

[thesis prototyping] :: material

i will write more on these when i have more time but i’ve made 2 material prototypes so far…

by this i mean, the cloth strapping mechanism that will hold the module to the user’s body.

design v0.1 is made out of white spandex, and has a flap/pocket mechanism to hold the module (housed currently in a plastic container i bought at the container store for $2.99… more on this soon).  this took me quite sometime and as you’ll see in the photos, would make a great post on failblog.org.

design v0.2 is a black plush material, that Ira helped me put together, i think in just about 30 minutes by hand.  Obviously, i could have done it in like 15 minutes, if i had the right equipment… which is at my parent’s house… so that’s why i asked her to help me. obviously.

thanks ira, clay, and nick for user testing, and the sexy smiles.

[thesis prototyping] :: processing to PHP, attempt one

ok nerdzors, look out. Ira told me about a project that she made that took an analog input from processing and posted it to php (and then possibly a database, not sure). i wanted to try it out for myself, so i did some searching, and of course the processing guru Daniel Shiffman had a nice tutorial on at least getting to a php script.

the php script writes to a text file that you are calling from processing. The php script i am using in this first draft is the same as Shiffmans here. once you have that up and running with all the correct permissions set on the file (read+write), you can fire up processing.

I modified his example file so that the sketch loops and constantly checks the script (+ text file) online, and updates the sketch accordingly. I inadvertantly created a collaborative drawing tool. Potentially, an infinite number of computers/machines could connect to this file that are running this processing sketch, so jessica, nick and i had a collaborative drawing session at 2 in the am.

Because you are just calling to a script that’s online, you can actually view the script at any time in a browser, and watch the coordinates get written as you create and erase them.  it would be here: http://jmsaavedra.com/projects/processingToPHP/loadstrings.php?type=load

Here is my modified Processing sketch.

Here are some images of our late night drawing session — in the background you can see firefox showing all the coordinates that make up the drawing:

this started out as “OOPS”.. then became “BOOBS”… and then became this. Actually I think Jess did the whole thing ourself. But Nick and I watched.

next up, I will hook up the Arduino to Processing and turn LEDs on and off from around the world.