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Date archive for: March 2016

energy / final proposal

Living Things  – plant sculptures shaped and powered by the wind

“Podran cortar todas las flores pero, no podran detener la Primavera”

( You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.) – Pablo Neruda

New York is a very windy city due to its grid based urban planning. There is a new urban design wave of making big cities more green. Around big cities you can see signs of “nature resistance”, in which trees invade the pavement.


In Brazil, there is a famous tree on the northeast coast called Arvore da Preguiça (Lazy Tree), that due to the strong wind current was shaped by it – for some people, it’s lonely existence represents resistance. The installation is using the poetic idea of resistance by putting a plant through a wind “stress” situation and despite all of it, it is still there alive and growing.


/the plant sculpture

Acrylic box(es, if feasible) with four covered wholes on its sides. Inside it, there is a plant. Using the power of the wind those wholes will be open or closed; what will define which wholes are being opened is the wind direction. I’d like to place them outdoors, in the corner of a building’s balcony.


open question should I place the box in some corner outdoors or should I simulate the wind indoors? (outdoors I could just put the plant that the would do the job?)

/ material list

Motors (probably DC or Servo)
Wind Power Collector (?)

/ project development chronogram

3/24 to 3/31 – refining concept and updating material list (choosing which plant I’ll use)

3/31 to 4/7 – wind power tests

4/7 to 4/14 – motors and mechanisms

4/14 to 4/21 – mechanisms and fabrication

4/21 to 4/28 – putting it together

4/28 to 5/5 –  finalizing boxes

/ references

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wearables / week 06 – changing ways n improving things

weaving with optic fiber

and so i started testing the optic fiber with other materials – i got some swatches and reflective ribbons at Mood , so my plan was to warp the cricket loom with optic fiber and go weaving with those materials.

unfortunately the company i ordered the optic fiber didnt send it spooled and therefore i needed to spool it before starting anything (optic fiber, no matter the thickness of it, gets tangled very easily). but since i needed to file it as well, i decided to try both. at the same time.

Teresa helped me because the optic fiber would get tangled anyway and at some point i just had to throw out a good amount of it because we couldn’t figure out how to untangle it. I went to the cricket loom and started warping it with the optic fiber. there were also some difficulties in doing it due to the fact that the fiber optic is not that malleable and the thread behaves the way it wants to.


and so I started the tests with the reflective ribbons i had. but i find out that they weren’t that efficient as a material combined with the optic fiber.

the yellow ribbon just didn’t light up at all. and so i started rethinking about the materials, trying to think how i wanted to narrow down the project, how i want this product to be approached and then i realized that i wasn’t finding any motivation in it anymore. i wasn’t having fun with what i had and achieving the result i had in my mind – a well finished, all occasion machine-learning product – seemed so far that i wasn’t feeling motivated.

so i stepped back, talked with despina and other friends and decided to combine the positive results i had from the first prototypes to get another alternative.

an elbow patch with fringes that signalize the biker is turning on left/right. the fringes are made of bright/fluorescent color threads and optic fibers and there’s an led on the tip. this same tip is attached to a mini servo motor and when the biker turn the servo on, it swings the fringe. there’s a photocell in it, that captures the luminosity of the environment and inversely map it to set the led brightness, lighting up the fringe when it gets darker.

after i got the circuit to work, i started fabricating it

from this prototype,  i have new steps to be tested:

  • make servo physically stable
  • attach properly the optic fiber + LED on the servo
  • find out the voltage/current of the circuit
  • insulate the conductive thread
  • use battery
  • use waterproof materials
  • make the fringe (ribbons + thinner fiber optic)



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energy / solar energy

for this week’s assignment we had to build a solar powered robot. I’ve partnered with Yuan and we decided to do pedaling legs. Here’s is the second part of the documentation – the first part you can find on his blog post.


once we had the circuit to work, we started working on the fabrication / mechanisms of the pedaling legs. after looking into legs animations and mechanisms references (specially ), we were able to make a first prototype of the legs:



then we went to the final version. the problem was that we didnt think that the materials would be too much weight over the gear and therefore, when we tested the final version, it just twitched instead of making the full turn. But the motor was definitely doing the turn if we used something light like paper of felt:


and these are the values we got when we charged the capacitor on a sunny day with the PV cell:

capacitor: 4700 microfarads
energy storage capacitance: 0.36895 joules
timing capacitance: 4.7 microfarads
solar configuration: 02 PV panels in parallel
triggering voltage: 0.0781 V
power : 0.07379 watts

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wearables / week 04 – less etsy & less resistance


after I broke down which were the requirements of my project, I was able to start sketching some possible prototypes – but before building them I went after the bikers, to shoot them while they mounted, rode and turned left or right.

/observing bikers

I was able to document 04 people and after I shoot them, I’d talk about the project & ask them if they gave any kind of signals to say they are turning left or right. All of them answered they don’t do any kind of signalization. Ideally they would, but they all forget about doing it (that includes me as well).

Through the videos I could also observe that the arms, differently from what I thought, were pretty visible the whole time. But apart from being visible or not, one of my main aspects is flexibility and I want people to be able to choose where they are attaching the patches (arms, legs, back or backpack).


IMG_1329And then I started fabricating the prototypes. I started with the fiber optic lead that I had last week, doing a bigger version with more optic fiber. During class, Despina showed us reflective materials. I reached out to the ITP student list and a colleague had some reflective yarn that she could borrow me. I thought that there was a chance of the reflective yarn create some interesting lightning result when weaved with the optic fiber.



The result was pretty interesting, specially to see that if I know how to treat the optic fiber and if I have the proper LED + resistor it will light up very well. And as much as I was excited about this experiment, it felt very hand crafted/ too Etsy. It feels very limited to what was main purposed. This prototype is flexible and give the feeling of a fabric that is illuminated, but it doesn’t work during the day, it will be uncomfortably wet if it’s raining and th ereflective yarn didn’t make any different. A little disappointed with this experiment and trying to understand what I had forgotten on my way to this, I decided to do some new alternative options for theses gaps found in the yarn experiment.

/ form and material – latex patch

Looking around the soft lab materials, I found this latex material that was very interesting to work with. Translucid, flexible and definitely waterproof, I did this prototype just to play with shape and malleability. I haven’t tested any attaching system yet but I’l say this would be easy to “stick” to skin. So this is a patch with folded latex stripes.

++ material transparency and adaptability 

— coudln’t figure out how to attache the optic fiber on it.


/ form and shape – coil wire magnets attempt

looking for possibilities within e-embroidery and wearables, i bumped into this website full of interesting DIY resources. I got very interested in one of their tutorials, that showed some results of giving conductive wire/coil energy and therefore creating an eletromagnetic field: making it become a magnet. So the idea is that the biker would activate this magnet system that would change the shape of the material (in the case, creating the shape of an arrow).

however, i had no success in energyzing the coil. i didn’t understand why, but i feel like i’d like to test more of this, it seems so promising!

++ shape shifting idea

— didn’t succeed in creating an eletromagnetic field

/ form and shape – wiggling pom-poms

and then i did this very ludic alternative because I felt that this “alive” patch could be something fun & a fashion statement (like fringes ).




++ fun idea that drives attention to the biker & start of attachment study

— it’s not practical / too delicate

/ reading

“What is interaction? Are there different types?” gave an overall view, presenting different perspectives over the definition of interaction and other categories tightly related to it. In my opinion, I thought it was interesting to put out so many options but also made me think that is all a matter of perspective. If in theory it’s all much more complex than I ever expected to be, it becomes very clear to me why seeing those systems in practice makes it even more difficult to classify and understand them as interaction/reaction/self-regulating/closed-loop etc.

So maybe is also the job of the designer to choose what is his interaction by defining precisely what is his intention ? Having a background within collaborative methodology, I feel that there’s also a part of the design process in which you have to give your product/system to the public and see how the interaction works without any instruction (There’s this very interesting article by Tom Igoe that he analyses pcomp projects and talks about hits and misses of interactive projects).

What if, just like in biomimicry, we start analyzing nature cycles to design more “transcendental” interactions, less forced gestures and movements (also reminded me of a nice observation over the dangerous future that interaction design seems to be leaning towards: ).

/open questions

after doing all these prototypes and videos, i find myself with the following questions to have in mind:

  1. what is my intention with this project?
  2. what kind of interaction do I want the user to have with the object? how organic or imposed this is?
  3. should it take the subject in a serious or in a fun approach?

/ next steps

i. weave the fiber optic with:

  • fiber optic
  • latex
  •  reflective fabric
  • gimp
  • waterproof

ii. think about fastening/attachment system;

iii. think about the interaction.

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