MP3 Break & Remake

Posted: Thursday, March 5
Due: Tuesday, March 31 Thursday, April 2 (you will be demonstrating your project in class)

What To Do

In this assignment, your goal is to break and remake an existing electronic technology by changing its user interface, its interactive form, its purpose.Your focus should be on reformulating physical interaction through electronic and material modification.

I have also added a new write-up template to accommodate this assignment. Here, you will first present at least five individual ideas that you and your partner considered for this mini-project (e.g., artifacts that you considered remaking and how/why). With your selected idea, you will document the electronic parts and physical materials that make-up the artifact (to the fullest extent possible)--this should also go in your video. The rest of the write-up/video is similar to the previous mini-projects.

You must work with a new partner on this assignment (i.e., someone you've not yet worked with on previous mini-projects).

A bit of background and personal inspiration for this assignment. I preach and practice iterative design not only in my own research but in the way that I approach teaching: I am constantly trying to improve my courses by updating lectures and adding, subtracting, and modifying content (e.g., concepts, homeworks, etc.). The last time I taught 838f, I added the 'High-Low Tech' assignment, which was strongly inspired by Leah Buechley and her (former) group at MIT Media Lab. This semester, we are adding 'Break & Remake'--something I've long wanted to try. The key trigger point, which caused me to finally act, was a talk by CUNY Assistant Professor Jonah Brucker-Cohen at the DASER talk series at the National Academy of Sciences (we were on a panel together, Jonah's talk here, my talk here). Jonah spoke about the Scrapyard Challenge Workshops, which he co-founded along with Katherine Moriwaki, an Assistant Professor of Media Design at Parsons in NYC. In these workshops,

"Participants build simple electronic projects (both digital and analog inputs) out of found or discarded 'junk' (old electronics, clothing, furniture, outdated computer equipment, appliances, turntables, monitors, gadgets, etc.). The workshops have been held 65 times in 14 countries on five continents."

You can read more about the Scrapyard Challenge here as well as view some videos of past Challenge Workshops. Like the High-Low Tech assignment, I think 'Break & Remake' positions you to rethink the materiality of computing, how objects are made, how they're imbued with computation, and how existing electronic artifacts can be reappropriated/repurposed with new behaviors and interactivity. Moreover, this assignment is motivated by work in Sustainable Interaction Design, which promotes the idea of 'renewal & reuse' in design and invention. We have truly entered this era of design for planned obsolescence--'Break and Remake' empowers us to give objects new life, new purpose.

Finally, with the coming 'Internet of Things' where (for better or worse) computation is everywhere, this assignment allows us to leap into that world and envision the future of 'smart objects' as designers and computer scientists.

While preparing this assignment, I found a number of other fun sources of inspiration--please do your own Googling and post cool, relevant projects to Piazza.

Assignment Deliverables

The assignment deliverables are due before lecture begins.
  • Utilize github to store and post your code. This should be publicly viewable and accessible. You are welcome to use any license you like on the code itself (including no license at all--e.g., None). When you use other people's code, you must cite your source--even if it's just a blog post and a small snippet. I believe github provides academic accounts (for additional features, please check the website).

  • Post a Wiki write-up to your own wiki subpage on this wiki (example).

  • Upload a video demoing your submission to YouTube. You should include the link to the YouTube video in your Wikipage. Please take the video creation process seriously--video is one of the best forms to portray the interactivity and sheer awesomeness of your inventions. I hope that you create something you would feel proud of to show your friends or family.

  • Presentation/demo. On Thursday, April 2, we'll have a presentation/demo day. We will dedicate the whole 75 minutes to this (if not more!). It's up to you how you want to present your work--you could do a live demo for the class, play all or part of your video, show slides, or do an interpretive dance. After all presentations are complete, we'll use the remaining time in the class to interact with each others demos.

Assignment Grading and Rubric

Assignments in this class will be graded on novelty, aesthetic, fun, creativity, technical sophistication, and engagement. All assignments (including the project) will be peer-reviewed by everyone in the class including me. We will rank our favorite projects and the top two or three teams will receive an award.

In-Class Presentations/Demos

You must fill out this Peer Feedback Form during the presentations/demos and submit it before the end of the day. Do not forget to also fill out this partner evaluation form due April 7th before class. We will present today in the order listed in the Completed Assignments starting with Tint Picker.

Completed Assignments

As before, please list your completed assignments below.

0. Project Name as a Heading 2 (linked to wiki write-up)

Team name or student names
A two or three sentence description of your artifact

1. Tint Picker

Seokbin Kang
Don't miss your favorite colors on the street. Tint Picker enables you to take the colors home and reuse them. Tint Picker is made by breaking down a toy microphone and replacing electrical parts in it.

2. Dr. Dre's Shoes

Majeed and Karthik
They light-up, display number of steps you took, and play music! We modified a pair of light-up shoes that light up when you walk, and created the Dr. Dre's shoes.

3. ChiptuneDJ

Beth and Jonggi
Controlling the speaker in the radio. The volume and radio channel controller in the radio is converted to a controller of the radio speaker to play songs. A value in the calculator is used to select a song played in the radio speaker.

4. New control methods for R/C car

I tried to rebuild control methods for R/C car so that I could figured out which one is more natural feeling to users.

5. Simon

Adding interactivity to a child's toy.

6. Bubble Chaser

Making a mindless, wandering robot follow sound.