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.

Meeting 3 Reflections

An atypical meeting today; we discussed what this site should look like, chatted about weak AI and mirrored sculptures, and decided to explore the three ideas from the library below and spend next week’s meeting polishing one of them:

  • An oven that changes color when it’s on.
  • Weather Box – a tactile representation of outside weather, represented by a piece of granite that is heated or cooled to outside temperature, and films with water to represent precipitation
  • Cartop garden – a thin tray on the automobile’s roof (or attached in the sunroof) that can grow moss, etc. that helps keep the auto interior cool in parking lots and offsets CO2 slightly

Egg Sprouts

Imagine a kitchen full of small plantings: little flowers and mini herb sprigs are growing in the 12 bottom sections of a egg carton which have been separated and spread around the kitchen.

For home cooks who care where their food comes from, organic egg farmers can add an extra surprise – egg cartons with seeds waiting to be planted in the paper matrix.

"Plant Me" icon printed at the bottom of each egg's cup
 Icon printed on the bottom of each egg’s cup

Mary — an eco-conscious consumer — is buying some eggs to make a crème brûlée tonight, when she discovers the Egg Sprouts carton. Embedded in the carton’s paper are herb and flower seeds, and it can be easily separated into miniature planter boxes.  Thinking how her kitchen could be cheered up by a dozen small plants, Mary figures she’ll give these eggs a try. She’s always wanted more green in her home, and this seems like a easy and fun gardening project, so she picks up a carton to take home and plant.

Herb and Flower icons on the underside of each carton
Herb and Flower icons on the underside of each carton

The dual feature egg planter carton is an easy, ecofriendly way to introduce plants into the home while reusing egg cartons and shells. Growing the plants is a fun process — the user gets to tear up the carton, crush egg shells, and scoop dirt into the egg holder. While the plants can be used as herbs to spice future dinners, their presence also increases the tranquility and invitation in the home. Finally, the Egg Garden is a no-waste buy at the grocery store — eggs, egg shells, and egg carton are completely used.

Prior Art

Icons from the noun project

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)