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.

Another Time.

The biggest concern of my lecturer regarding my team’s work is that maybe we are still circumnavigating the problem and not hitting it directly.

The main problem is that we think we are being fluid because we are changing the final thing.

Our project is helping particularly year ones in BCT, like an icebreaker, focusing on a topic, opening conversations with a visual representation of people talking and show who is contributing, talking too much and not enough. With the topic of stories that we provide to them, so they have a topic to discuss rather than discuss themselves because even if we are not talking about ourselves our answers to certain things especially open-ended question says a lot about us that other people can perceive.

Initially, it being a mobile phone app allowed me to start on making a phone up but then I found out that the level of accuracy I want can’t be found on a microphone on a phone and since it is not precise there are a lot of discrepancies from brand to brand even phone to phone.

During our presentation to the class, some people asked that wouldn’t it be a bad to have such a small screen with the indicator to show people talking and people could miss it if they are paying attention to the person over the phone.

We then changed to a computer Processing release with me doing most of the coding with my partner doing the design part. We ran another problem facing the issue of multiple mic inputs in the computer and the input cost as little as $300. Naturally, we are incredibly rich students and only decided not to buy it because we don’t want to, but this still caused us problems. We needed to change again because there is another technological roadblock in front of us.

We had to ask ourselves, what is the core idea of our project, what is malleable and what is constant features that our final project to have. Since we discovered another problem that is hard to overcome we needed to go almost back to the drawing board. We talked to the TA that we had and helped us one more time. Asked us to question our actual idea for the project. He asked us that if we are still having problems then maybe it is time to transform the original idea to not necessarily simpler but to something more accessible for the people making it, us, and for the people receiving the final product.

Now we evolve the initial question to suit the environment that we have observed and that we have found ourselves in. So we looked at the question of helping the students to identify the people who are contributing a lot, too much and not enough. Asked if it is feasible, found that microphone are fickle things.

So we transformed the heading of our project one last time and headed in focusing in the area of visual representation of a conversation about a particular topic that sits in the people to use the device. The people input a topic they want to discuss and then the screen creates a small bubble with the topic in the middle. A mic picks up the conversation and detects the level of sound and then adds to the diameter of the circle making it bigger. When the user’s press back to the overall view they can create more topics and connecting them and seeing visually what they talked about the most and the least. They can come back to it connect bubbles and see where the growth is.

This is the current goal and I am trying to get the function by this coming Monday.

The reason for this switch is due to the fact now looking back at it, it feels like I was always getting ahead of myself, I act as early as I would have liked when I was presented with live problems I have encountered on my way here. I learned that nothing is exact, from the format of the final outcome to the idea. That doesn’t mean starting over, but things can change, and it should be considered good and not a hindrance, even if it is not a nice feeling to know you almost wasted your time putting effort into one thing to be changed in the end.

Been a while…

So it has terrible that I haven’t been blogging a while, but let us move on.

Our project involves the year one in BCT and we had three chance to record and experiment on their experience within the test. we had three stories

The Doves and the Hunter

The Traveler and the Purse

The Gnat and the Bull

in that order.

Each story is short and is self-contained with a meaning. I recorded me reading the story to replicate the what the final product should be. Each reading the people are prompted to discuss and like the mechanic in our proof of concept, there is an indicator (a coin) that travels around the table, in front of the year ones to travel around.

What we changed is how we asked the people after the reading.

The first experiment, we asked them to discuss and that is it. I vague open-ended question that allowed depth but there was one person that didn’t participate at all. From what I can perceive the person is shy. Although she saw the indicator moving around the table she still didn’t feel inclined enough to participate in the conversations. For the rest of the people participating in the experiment did converse well with depth.

The second experiment focussed on asking a much more specific question, what did you learn. Each person did partake with no one not speaking but there was something lacking. There was no depth in any of the three discussions, just one-word answers.

We modified the question for the first question to be specific, and the other two were open-ended questions. This is the golden ticket. The first question focussed on a specific question, which prompted each person to partake in quick short answers and makes them comfortable which opens them to answer more and have depth in their answers for the other two stories, which is the goal of our project.

Form of storytelling to be shared

One major component of our final product is to have some sort of story to be the central focus of the discussion with the theme of sharing and being within groups.

Story vs parable.

Story : noun – “… story is a sequence… a sequence of real or fictional events; or an account of suck a sequence…”

Parable : noun – “… parable is a short narrative illustrating a lesson (usually religious/moral)”

Parables are usually used as analogy to focus to the lesson that is present in the parable. Another key feature of a parable is that is short. Even though it is still up for debate, some say it can be as short as 8 seconds but can vary from people to people. Which can be a problem for our final project because we need the users to pay attention to the story as it needs to be discussed. So we made it a point that our stories not too long, nothing over a minute.

Story vs Parable – What’s the difference? (2013, August 17). Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://wikidiff.com/parable/story
Cornish, David; Dukette, Dianne (2009). The Essential 20: Twenty Components of an Excellent Health Care Team. Pittsburgh, PA: RoseDog Books. pp. 72–73. ISBN 1-4349-9555-0. OCLC 721335045

 

Mic Directionality

There is the severe lack of internal microphone directionality specifications or any sort of descriptions. They always speak about the battery, the internet and other irrelevant phone specifications. It is very problematic to our project but there are workarounds it but before, that I want to talk about microphone directionality

There are many types of directional mics

A mic that picks up signals from the front and back. useful for interview situations

A mic that is better for the front and sides, can give more directionality in 3 degrees with a little signal coming from the back

Another mic that has three degrees of the signal with none coming from the 180 degrees, captures front and side well.

The ideal microphone for our final project with wide angle for signals to come from to determine the directionality of the person speaking. In terms of applications, this is the most useful one for us.

But like mentioned in the beginning of this post, many companies doesn’t post much about the strength of their mics. In the previous post, I found out that there are many variation in mics even from phones in the same model, as it isn’t needed to be beefed up like a studio mic.

http://www.camfere.com/microphones-accessories-2329/p-d4212.html?currency=NZD&aid=cfgplanz&gclid=Cj0KEQjw5YfHBRDzjNnioYq3_swBEiQArj4pdDRzSMPGX7W0LYAXcdzPIo6nli6-NbHvl6NvmvL8NwoaAu8d8P8HAQ

This is a $5 directional microphone from the website above. Cheap with the sound sensitivity of -30dB which might seem short but it is only on a table and might be enough for a table discussion.

http://www.conrad.com/ce/en/product/1408696/Speech-microphone-RODE-Microphones-VIDEOMIC-ME-Transfer-typeDirect-incl-pop-filter

Technical data

Category Speech microphone
Transfer type Direct
Frequency response 100 – 20 000 Hz
Characteristics Cardioid
Features incl. pop filter
On/off switch No
Weight 34 g
Length 80 mm

Features

  • Compact and lightweight (8 cm/34 g)
  • Integrated TRRS plug to connect with the headset socket
  • Fitted for primary camera or selfie mode
  • Integrated 3,5-mm headphone jack allows play-through of audio while recording
  • 1/2“ condenser capsulel, Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency range: 100 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensibility: 22 mV
  • Equivalent Noise Level: 20 dBA
  • Maximum SPL: 140 dB.

It has more details and magnitude more expensive compared to the other one but it has higher sensitivity and high sensitivity.

In terms of prices, we can leave it to the budget of colab and could provide microphone for this activity.

 

Highlights & details

What is a Directional Microphone? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.learningaboutelectronics.com/Articles/What-is-a-directional-microphone

Mic Sensitivity

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/67354/smartphone-microphone-sensitivity

I would use APA but it is just a discussion forum for electronics and people have vetted each others answer so I trust it enough to a certain degree.

The biggest problem smartphone microphones is that it has automatic gain control, active noise cancellation and other processing functions that having a mic sensitivity spec useless.

It also doesn’t help that there are large variation from phone to phone even in the same model  because that level of isn’t required for the normal use of a smart phone and could have up to 6dB of variance between them. Even if a phone’s microphone is run with test to determine the values want could potentially not have a uniform data set or consistent.

There are also difference in speaker mode, camera and video mode for the input signal.

Although all these things are not that important to our project, sensitivity of the mic is important in determining how loud or quiet a person when they are talking. It is for the best to use an external microphone with 360 capabilities to determine the location of people talking