Tech Uni and Creativity

It is very good to be back. Personally I felt that the break was way too long, but something happened, even before the break. I found something amazing, an event that happens once a month called #AIHappyHour. It is this awesome event that moves around and last time I have been was at IBM and as it happen to be, the next event is today at AUT, my home University.

The event opened my  eyes to the beauty of AI. I, along with many people, have this preconceived notion of AI being somewhere far in the deep future, Star Trek or Terminator levels of future. Isuru Fernando, the main IBM Watson (the AI) guy in New Zealand and his main point of conversation besides showcasing what Watson can do is that AI is here.

He demos Watson by showing how Watson can be used for cooking. We know that at the heart of it cooking is chemistry, and some molecules and chemicals work well better than others. Watson was paired with a New Zealand head chef to create a menu specifically created between the chef and the AI. The way it worked is that the chef input ingredients to chef Watson and it returned a list with a bunch of pairings rated out of 100 percent, so Watson was creating links between ingredients that the head chef just cant imagine because the amount of time it takes just to test and the astronomical amounts of permutation within the combinations.

This really showed me the real use of AI, it is used side by side by humans, not some overbearing overlord that will shoot humans, but AI is a tool, a very powerful self learning tool with infinite possibilities.

He explained why Watson playing Jeopardy is exceptionally difficult because it wasn’t a question and answer type of game show, it is an answer and question show. How the problem presented to Watson computationally more difficult than a show like Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Target?

With Conv-O, our initial target are the year one Bachelor of Creative Technology students within group works because ourselves were year ones as well and felt that there was an initial discomfort when working within a new team for the first time, small answers and vague action and responses. With Conv-O we want to mitigate this issue by bypassing it as quickly and easy as possible which the team efficient as quickly as possible by giving it as sense of direction on what to focus on, one topic, question at a time.

Concept

The concept of Conv-O is a software that facilitates a group conversation through the use of topic bubbles that will end up linking to each other creating a mind map showing the journey of a group conversation and development.

In terms of what is the market for facilitating conversation, team building exercises are important for schools, universities, to professional careers because getting the team as relaxed and contributing as fast as possible makes them incredibly more productive. With the program that we made, you are able to visualise the conversation seeing what is more talked about with topics that are larger in size, the abundant point of conversation, to the least talked about with small bubbles that need improvement or can be discarded.

Functions

Two main functionality of our project are visually representing conversation within groups of two or more people and visually representing the flow of topics, questions, and conversation. Currently, we are targeting the students of year one students of Bachelor of Creative Technologies as we tested the basic functionality and various iteration of our project with them. But as the project developed, avenues opened for us, this allowed us to consider the future of the project as it can be expanded to the workplace, during Agile and Scrum meetings, sprints, stand up meetings, ideation or idea generating.

Additional functions we want to implement to improve the software are numerous, to say the least, here’s a few. We want to have the ability to not only save the screen as an image but to have it as a save file to revisit within the program. Be able to embed information within the bubbles, like sound words and other metadata for data processing either visually or right into the program and many others.

How it works?

When the Conv-O is opened the following is seen,first screen

The default screen. It has three buttons with the option of adding bubbles, removing bubbles and save the screen. It is a fairly generic screen with options. But the magic is about to happen.

When add bubble is pressed the following notification is presented.add bubble message

It will only execute when a string, word, is typed in.

After typing a topic question or word.

single node

A single node enter and populates the screen. After entering some more topics to be covered.

screen populated with more bubbles

we can get something that looks like this.

when you press a bubble you zoom in to the center of the image like so

topic

zoom single node

The nod increases in size based on the sound of the people talking about the topic near the screen. After some time you can get something like this. A visual representation about a conversation with varying size, the amount of conversation, about a particular topic.

after using the bubblwe

The pretty stuff.

The math.

So there is an illusion on the screen. Normally on a processing sketch, the visual screen, the (0,0) co-ordinate is in the top left screen. I transformed the (0,0) co-ordinate to the center of the screen. This means that the physics engine screen is actually not width and height because I have negatives in my screen. With this setup, it means that I can set the center by translating, then scaling with the appearance of magnification then increasing the radius of the ball by sound over the average noise in the room. But the mouse and screen is not the same thing, so I have to reverse the transformation by calculation to get the new x and y position to match the position of the bubble world.

It only has a wrapper class called Particle that extends the VerletParticle2D class in the toxiclibs library. This class is also in charge of drawing the particles, and the variables of the radius, so it can be changed to be increased.

On paper it sounds so simple, but the entire coding was a pretty daunting task but in the end I got there, thanks with the help of my magnificent programing teacher.

Conv-O

Conv-O

The current title of our project. It is the summary of me and my partners collective semester 1’s worth of work.

It took many forms before arriving to the current state, from initial ideas of a kinetic scrolling website, to an android application to the current state of Processing, a visual form of Java.

It is designed, at this point, to target year ones in my current degree of Bachelor of Creative Technology in Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. Specifically for visualisation of conversation, in topics, and how a topic grows over time. After the session, they can visually see how their topics took shape, with one topic could be the biggest one, one could be weak and requires working on.

This application can also make the people visually aware of how the conversation is going. With the ability to add new topics on the fly, seeing the natural flow of the conversation makes it a powerful tool to see what begins as a simple topic or question can lead to a large amount of topic to expand to.

after using the bubblwe

It also has a threshold value for the sound, so this visual aid subconsciously makes speakers aware of their own speaking voice, if the growth isn’t being affected by their voice, it indicates that they can be too quiet. This allows for them to adjust their speaking voice to better help the people around them hear better.

Bean Bags & Low Tables

Great inspiration comes from many place, but what is the best at leading new work flows is the search engine giant, Google.

Above is a photo taken from the Zurich (Zooglers, how cool is that) office of Google

The bright lights, even brighter furniture leather seats, fruit bowls low table with glass, explosive wall, plenty of natural lights and the list goes on and on. This image is a representation of something we want to capture and try to replicate with our setup. Its bright atmosphere is an excellent catalyst for creativity because compared to a boring conference room where all the big money deal happen, it isn’t a place where creativity can flow easily.

Even this modern conference room is trying to be something it isn’t. You can plaster all the key words for idea generations but a black and white room is not going to cut it.

Low tables are excellent for discussion because tables it reduces barriers for free flowing conversation for generating ideas. It also increases the visibility of the other person, not just seeing from their chest up which is important as it creates an air of freedom, more fuel for creativity.

dav

Lastly the low bean bags as substitution for normal chairs. This is the crux of our entire project. Our last attempt to recreate the open atmosphere we so desire. The laid back and low posture is crucial for the atmosphere because it isn’t the same way you would sit in an open chair. Being laid back in itself is a relaxing state for a person, which ultimately inclines a person to think more freely rather than corporately. As it is, upright sitting signifies, tight, correct posture, corporate, and serious tone which we want to avoid. With loose sitting, relaxed sitting creates a freer feeling which is so important for discussions and idea generations

Why cafe?

Cafe have a certain of feeling of mixture of life permeating from it. creativity, transactions of hundreds of thousands to millions can happen at cafes, people writing script, sometimes on a typewriter. All walks of life can exist simultaneously within a cafe, the bustling barista with the impatient and incompetent customers. There is a certain mixture of steam, creativity, transactions and action that happens there surrounded by warm lights and light atmosphere that promotes and successfully suggest to people of openness. It is this essence is what we want to achieve in our project with the wood frame.

Border

This is supposed to be the frame of the for our setup. The laptop we were going to use is a 360 degree laptop. Since it a touch screen it allows like bellow. (When this photo was taken, it was still in development).

dav

We chose for a varnished wooden border because it has a cafe feel to it, with warm lights of yellow and brown, we believe it creates a relaxing atmosphere that makes it feel less corporate, which was one of the things we found out when we tested initial ideas towards the year ones in BCT for our project.

Because if you are given a screen to play with, in the room of the showcase, it can be confusing what to feel and to do or experience. Other peoples work run in different ways. So to mitigate this, we allowed it to have a feel drawn from cafes. Many meetings and collaborations happen outside of meeting rooms and occur at cafes with varying results but the always consistent factors is quiet ambient, not silent, location. Newlands, M. (2015, April 01).

 

Newlands, M. (2015, April 01). Business Meetings 101: How to Find the Perfect Restaurant. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244427

 

Uncertain at its best, tragic at its worst.

I have been combing over my work at this points version of my current assignment is 300 lines of code. But don’t be fooled it is the 5th version of the current work, I have restructured the data, I have used different libraries and used different methods of working it out and it has been the last couple weeks of my life, looking at endless lines of codes, wondering why it went wrong, why doesn’t work.

It is always the best experience when I show my work to my programming professor and looks at it and within two seconds of peering into the nest of code I have created, he spots it with extreme accuracy, smirks and then shows me that hours of my life is equivalent to minutes to him. To be fair, he has been more alive than I have but it is his experience I want.

Back to my work. It has been a tremendous undertaking that I of course misconstrued to be a rather simple task, ended up being in a colossal coding nightmare. It is with my own ego that let myself always get ahead of what I want to do compared to what I do.

Currently, I am using a couple of libraries. Minim for the sound input, Toxiclibs for the visual interaction of the particles on the screen, control P5 the buttons, javax.swing.JOptionpane for the popup screen to take a string input from the user. In this project, there are two libraries that I didn’t have experience in using, which should have been my first flag, but I glanced over it overestimating myself and stretching myself very thin.

Minim is a sound library in processing, free and available for download. In my project, I am using it to get the average the sound the room in whatever environment it find itself in. An initial interesting interaction was that I destroyed the first object in the array list after 5000 sound input object after combining the two left-right input of the mic. This function is fully working, I think.

Toxiclibs is an interesting find because it is almost everything I need in terms of the interaction of the bubbles on the screen. Each bubble has its own attraction or repulsion so each bubble will never touch. This is working, each bubble is being created and is interacting with the screen with the way I have created it.  But one part of my project is that after hearing sounds over a certain threshold, it increases the radius of the bubble and I can’t edit or reach the radius of the bubble because I didn’t bother making the bubble object into a class. I wonder if can edit the radius without the need for changing the structure again.

ControlP5 is working as it is the thing that adds the bubbles on the screen after the user pressed it. There is another function that I want it to do, add a button outside the setup method, but it is proving to be difficult. If I try to make a button in the draw method it doesn’t like it one bit. Essentially it doesn’t draw it. I need this button to zoom out of the object, therefore, the button only appears after the camera has zoomed to the object.

The swing library to make a text field to be used by the users.

My main problems currently are the zooming feature, zoom out and increasing the size of the bubble. It should be resolved by Monday.