In the beginning, I had a hard time coming up with an interesting, novel, and fun idea. I saw the MIT work, the inForm, which many of us have seen it before. It is a legend that inspires a lot of people, including me. At that time, I wanted to replace the tactile to something that does not have a dimension or a brick, where people can manipulate an object on their hand. With that in mind, I thought of searching for cool materials for the replacement of the tactile. I saw this YouTube video, “7 Strangest & Coolest Materials Which Actually Exist.” In the video, I got inspired by two materials which are Ultra Hydrophobic Material and Hydrogel. These two materials we have seen in our daily life, with water-resistant material; such as rain jackets, shoes, backpacks, and hydrogel in the plants.
“Water” came to my mind. I want to used water as a daily object. First, I thought if I can manipulate water like how we see on the space that the water is floating (okay! I don’t think it can achieve in the earth right now). However, my thought was using water to make a button(figure 1). But I don’t think it’s possible and I don’t know how it would work. After talking to tutors with my idea of water balls, they encourage me to think further and explore on what water ball can do. It can add textures, weight, and smell (maybe).
In my first three ideas, I want to use a water ball to design something fun since hydrogel can absorb water. I want to create a game for kids. Each water ball has its own colors, but when two of them collide, the water released and it a new set of color is made. The new set of color will transfer to the LED screen, which has color pallets. Children can use the color they mixed to create art.
I was inspired by a YouTube clip; I saw called New Interactive RGB LED modules and Interactive Water and LED Installation. Children can use any soft surface props like brush and sponge or water gun and spread bottles to draw on the LED canvas. The LED canvas senses the interaction with the amount of water that applied to the canvas. A tutor reminded me that what my design is different from the typical canvas and why they have to drop the water balls to mix the colors. Humm….it does make sense, and I couldn’t think about any better explanation of why this is better than the normal one, except it includes the technology and looks cool.
The second and third ideas were somewhat similar to a little tweaking and a different user. I changed to blind people. I ideas was teaching blinded people about how to mix color. But when I shared my idea with my friend, she asked me that how would they know the color they made are the ones they like? It strikes me that for the people who are born with blindness, they have never seen colors before. How would they know colors? Even if I had added textures, weight, smell, and food(representation with the shape and reminder of natural food colors), they wouldn’t have any clues.
Later, I went on YouTube to search with any keyword that came to my mind besides the keywords, such as, physical computing, interaction design, and tangible computer. I wanted to push myself to think outside of the box this time. It’s easier said than done. I felt that from previous courses, I tend to get stuck, and I went into a dark hole where I constantly thinking in a circle. When it happened, I felt that my mind got overwhelmed, and it comes to a deadlock. I want to try differently this time.
I started with the word “water” since this is the daily element that I would like to focus on. I went to explore all different types of designs that I could find. I felt that every design has its own story even though they might have got inspiration from another artist. But by adding personal thoughts, ideas, intentions, and messages, it gives a different life to the art. On that said, I saw this big side water bubble ring toss, which reminded this game I played before. Even though this finding didn’t help me to get a new idea, but it reminded me of not only focusing on hands.
Instead of hands, I can cooperate with both hands and legs at the same time. It reminds me of a commercial I saw years ago from the G Active sport’s drinks commercial. The human water shapes inspired me to use it as a character in a fitness running game. The human water form symbolized the human being since our body contains lots of water. It tied up the relationship between water and human. (If you are interested in how they make the human water form real, you can go to my poster blog page. It had a YouTube link of how they make it. It's really amazing!)
Moreover, instead of seeing the character on the screen, I want to bring the character to a life where we can see it in 3d water human shapes. It’s a cool visualization. After I shared my idea with a tutor, she helped me to think further about why the droplets are essential? How does it use in the design other than visually appealing? With the ideas the tutor shared, I thought of adding playfulness to the game by changing the visibility depends on how fast the character runs. We sweat when we do an exercise. The water intensity reflected in the sweat lost during the exercise to push the player to run more. If they run slow, then they are easy to lost control in the game. It is a fitness game with a combination of health to remind people to drink more water.
Hydrokinesis. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved from https://abilitiespowersgifts.blogspot.com/2014/07/hydrokinesis.html