ScanBand v0.5 -- Now With Less Width!

This is the newest version of the ScanBand series of arm-measuring devices. This time around, I've made it as narrow as I think it can possibly get. The measuring numbers were turned 90 degrees and laid out side-by-side along the edge. The bar codes are the same size as version 0.4, but I think this is as small as I can make them while still allowing for them to be scanned.

Attached is the zip with the PDF and the SVG file. It's made available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License version 3.0, copyright 2007 Mike Edwards and Baobab Health Partnership.

ScanBand v0.4 is go!

At last, version 0.4 of my ScanBand prototype has rolled off the presses (or, at least, the printer in the lab.) This version tossed out the color strip, which turns out to be less useful than I had hoped. It is also significantly narrower, making it more like existing mid-upper arm circumference measuring devices. There is also a window alongside the scanning window that displays the millimeter measurement in numbers, so that the band is still useful in situations with computers or power.

Even more importantly, the version is able to be print two ScanBands completely on a single 8.5x14 inch sheet of paper, BUT can also (potentially) print out on a continuous roll from a 3-4 inch wide label printer. I'd really like to test this latter scenario in Malawi, since the good folks at Baobab have indicated that this might be a great way to print these out as needed.

Attached to this post is the zip file with the PDF of the most recent version.

The Rules for "Guns"

When I was a kid growing up on army bases, the most popular game played by kids my age was called "Guns." We would come up to each others' houses, find our friends, and ask them, "Wanna play guns?" And they always would.

Here at the rules for "Guns", as they emerged over a couple of years in my section of barracks:

Players are divided into two teams. The teams are usually, though not always, designated as "US" and "Soviets."

Each player selects a toy gun from the collective neighborhood cache of plastic weapons. It is typically good form to select guns appropriate to one's side (e.g. plastic AK-47 goes to the Soviet side.) Also, the better looking weapons should tend to go to older players.

First Outside Critic Presentation

ScanBand v0.2Thursday night marked the first presentation of my thesis work to outside critics. It went well, despite a snafu with the barcode scanner that prevented the ScanBand from displaying its results on screen. As a non-digital user scenario, though, it was fine.

Here's the breakdown of my presentation. I've also attached the PDF of the show and a PDF of the version 0.2 ScanBand prototype, which is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0

Solar Jacket in The New Yorker

For me, the annual New Yorker Style Issue is usually thin on content and long on made-up 15 year olds looking studiously blase about their Burberry togs. But this issue featured an article by Henry Alford called "Solar Chic," where the author user tests a Zegna bomber jacket with removable solar panels in the collar. The solar panel fed a battery in the breast pocket which, in turn, would charge standard 5-volt devices like music players and phones. The piece could almost be a case from the Knight et al. paper.

Comfort, Wearables, and a Peripersonal Space Experiment

I've been doing a lot of work on anthropometrics, and I found the articles for this week to be really helpful for my thesis research. I have been thinking about how to measure vital signs on a patient's body in a way that is inexpensive, accurate, and user-friendly, both for the patient and the technician. Equally important, however, is that a measuring device should be wearable, by the authors' definitions, if only for a short time.

In "The Comfort Assessment of Wearable Computers," by James Knight, et al., the authors invented a multidimensional test for describing the feelings of comfort or discomfort for a wearable device. I'm a freak for numbers and hard data, so it's nice to have this tool available to me for evaluating prototypes. I am especially glad to see how the evaluations are broken down, getting rid of the unhelpful, single variable comfortable/uncomfortable and allow researchers to get more toward the point of what actually is making the user uncomfortable with a device.

More specific to the design of the devices themselves, in "Design for Wearability" Gemperle et al. delineated the constraints for device placement, form, allowance of movement, peripersonal space, attachment, and several other considerations. For me, this could work as a checklist as I create new devices and wearables, making sure I've considered all of the problem areas. I especially appreciated their breakdown of good places to site the devices, which helps give me a starting point for how to shape and attach them.

Rounding out the readings, Dunne and Smyth's "Psychophysical Elements of Wearability" dove more into the neurological side of comfort, which I also liked. I have done a bit of work with haptic interfaces before, and the deadening of response to a continuous stimulus is something I've noticed. If you want the user to notice an output, the stimulus must be fresh. On the flip side, if you want the user to not attend to the device, it must be comfortable (that is, it must not irritate the nerves.)

I think the Dunne and Smyth article sums up something for me that I have been thinking about for a while. For a wearable to be successful, in my opinion, it must be peripheral. In their terms, it must be something that is subconsciously processed but not attended to. Important input from the wearable may be perceived by the user and later attended to, but it should otherwise fall into the background noise of the rest of the world.

With all this in mind, I conducted a little experiment with some equipment I picked up at Modell's, a local sporting goods chain store. I picked up a set of Adams Forearm Pads, Adams Football Pants, Adams Football Thigh Pads, Adams Neck Roll (flat contour), a pair of Trace Hand-Guard Plus, Nike Dri-FIT Sliding Pad, and a Nathan L.E.D. Wrist Runner. I put on the pants with the thigh pads inserted, put the forepad on my left forearm, the sliding pad on my upper right arm with the thickest part on my tricep, put the neck roll loosely over my shoulders, and put the hand guard on my left hand. Then I performed ordinary tasks to see how I reacted to these additions to my body in daily life.

Collage of Sports Protection Equipment: First row: Adams Forearm Pad, Adams Football Thigh Pad, Nike Dri-FIT Sliding Pad  Second row: Trace Hand-Guard Plus, Adams Neck Roll (flat contour), Adams Football PantsCollage of Sports Protection Equipment: First row: Adams Forearm Pad, Adams Football Thigh Pad, Nike Dri-FIT Sliding Pad Second row: Trace Hand-Guard Plus, Adams Neck Roll (flat contour), Adams Football Pants

Blogging "Blog This"

Blog ThisBlog This

On Saturday, Cameron Browning and I joined up with the boys from Mein Stiffi and had a projection party with Splnlss on his roof in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We were testing out a project I've dubbed "Steadman," which is a crazy looking drawing tool we created on a slow day in the lab this past August. The results remind me a lot of Ralph Steadman's work.

We've been sort of picking at it now and then. It has tablet support, so you can take your handy Wacom and use the pressure of the pen to adjust the madness of the line you're drawing. Next up... maybe some way of animating the output when it's done. Suggestions are welcome.

First Two Weeks

So far so good. I met with Marko this morning and worked through what needs to be done next. I have to start researching a lot about the patent and copyright situation with what I want to do, because I really want to make sure that this work is free (as in freedom) and that it stays free (i.e. no one scoops it up, locks it down, and sells it back to the people at high cost). I don't expect that to happen, but it's better to be safe than sorry, and I really want this to be shared as widely as possible.

Doing more work for Yury, too--top secret stuff for now. Should be really cool when it comes out, though. I was working in Processing today for some demo work, and I solved a lot of issues I'd had before with exporting apps and making them presentable. Sweet!

A Critical Review of "Call of Duty: Vanguard," King of the Hill Multiplayer Game Mode

"Call of Duty: Vanguard" is a first-person shooter for the Nintendo Wii set in World War II. The game offers several multiplayer options for play in split-screen mode. This review will evaluate one of these options, "King of the Hill."

Back in Action

Okay, here we go! Another semester is starting up, and I am busy. I'm taking 18 credits right now and teaching one class (CC lab) and co-teaching another (Community Media Design) with Karl Mendonca. Thesis fits in there too, plus another secret project I'm working on with a former teacher.

I've been doing some testing on barcode scanners, and it looks like I can get the one I just received from eBay to read off a number from a fairly crowded field of others on a strip where each is only 1 mm high. This could make an efficient length and circumference measuring device, once I test it more thoroughly. I present the larger idea in class Monday night, so feedback from that will be very helpful.

Copyright Mike Edwards 2006-2009. All content available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, unless otherwise noted.

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