Ideas from 3/7/12 meeting

At our last meeting, we started talking about heads-up displays (HUD) and augmented reality (AR). Since Google’s video about their Project Glass had just come out, that became the focus of our discussion for so long that when we had finished brainstorming, we had to call it quits for the day.  The discussion centered around input methods, information displayed, user interfaces (who will be interfacing with what through AR: people, people and objects, people and machines, people and displayed digital information or metadata…) Below are the ideas we generated, and next week we’ll start by turning the ghost racing idea into a product brief.

  • AR glasses as a platform for sketching and CAD – uses hand tracking as an input device
  • Recording and cuing stories or jokes by gestures
  • Historical overlays on cities for pedestrian tourists
  • Parkour video game
  • Modeling data (such as wind density in a city square, or light) as interactive sculptures
  • “Real life” ghost racing
  • Tutorials or how-to information encoded in objects (will this be death of design for usability?)
  • Sculpting through hand following and haptic feedback
  • Surveying or dimensioning in the world – an engineer could apply a know shape and size object, like a Post-it note, to a building, and AR glasses could calibrate dimensions using the relative size and skew of the reference object
  • Security tracking and avoidance – AR glasses that visualize for the wearing the blind spots of security cameras and mirrors

Materially showing temperature

The meeting today was more about concept exploration than product design, so this week’s brief will reflect that.

Looking at the ideas we’d selected for exploration last week, the weather box and glanceable oven overlapped in the representation of temperature. Heat-sensitive paint (see video below) seemed like a really exciting way to show this for the oven; what if alll you needed was a new coat of paint for the oven to show its internal temperature?

But since the oven is supposed to catch your peripheral vision, maybe an animated display would be more effective; Peltier devices were mentioned as an interesting way to both make energy from the oven’s heat and to cool/heat a surface. By using a thermoelectric device to store heat as electricity, and then using that stored energy to cool the surface, one could animate a thermochromic display.

We found peltier junctions for ~$800 per sq.ft., or with a heat sink of 16 times the area ~$50, which is competitive with granite countertops. That doesn’t include the cost of the sinks, paint or backing, which, let’s say, drives it up to $100 p.sq.ft, still in granite range. However, each tile would be ~6 inches on a side. If the tiles would be that large anyway, it might be better to have them smaller and distribute them over the surface, allowing for weird looking patterns at the expense of reigions we can’t directly control.

Passive thermochromatic materials could be used to show the evolution of human use of a room, if the sensitivity of the paint was just right. You could see footprints lagging behind a person for a set period of time, or the ambient temperature of the room (based on the number of people or their activity level) could be reflected in the color of the room. Below you can see what this sort of environmental awareness looks like in a sink.

Additionally, we noted a cheap (thermal camerathat uses a one-pixel sensor to slowly build an image.

Bumper Ink

You’ve shared a lot with your car.  Now share it with everyone else.
Bumper Ink is an e-ink display on your rear bumper that gives your car a particular personality, designed by you and powered by your smartphone.
Your car could proudly brag about its miles per gallon, total miles driven, or where it’s been; maybe you want it to make fun of your driving habits, your 9-5 daily schedule, or how long it’s been since its last oil change.
You don’t have to leave all the talking to your car, though; you can type in messages to the car behind you, whether apologetic (“The car in front of me keeps slowing down”) or apoplectic (“Back off!”).
For all these messages, it’s clear if it’s you or the car speaking, so if you’re stuck in traffic, why not have it automatically display some ads? (It’s not like the people behind you have anywhere better to look.)
technical feasibility
  – Bluetooth connection to smartphone
      – class 3 bluetooth range is 5 meters, draws 1mW
          – solar powered?
      – more than enough bandwidth for this application
  – phone provides internet connection, processing power, user control over messages
      – pulls data from needed services (foursquare, twitter, etc)
      – has gps signal, can get speed
      – creates the “personality”
  – getting mpg could be difficult
      – most cars don’t have an api for that sort of data
      – could install something on the fuelline to directly measure consumption
      – could figure out mpg by tracking # of gallons put into the car and miles driven between refueling.

Poster version (PDF)