Documentation & Reflection


Shao Tan - Thu 18 June 2020, 11:59 pm
Modified: Mon 22 June 2020, 12:36 pm



It was really interesting having an online exhibition on Discord. The first half an hour went by without anyone joining our channel but after that there were many visitors. Some came in without saying anything and some stayed really long and asked many questions. There were many 'aww's and laughter when I was showing the functions of Spud (really similar with the user testing with my friends) and everyone said they liked it which I am very pleased about.

It has quite challenging demonstrating the functions of Spud through a webcam as it would be better for them to experience it by themselves. I used the smaller Spud form as the 'person approaching the user' which when I think back, wasn't a good choice as it made quite many people confused of why there were two Spuds interacting with each other. This was also my fault as I assumed that they had looked through my portfolio first before coming. I realised my mistake later in the exhibit and explained why there were two Spuds before I demonstrated anything.

Everything worked well and went smoothly except for the voice recognition software that registered everything as 'dance' so Spud kept dancing and a incident where the 9v battery ran out of power and Spud's movable parts went all wonky. It would also have been nice if I had set the voice recognition software to listen to the visitors' voices as some people asked whether they could try to talk to Spud.

Although I am sad that we could not do the exhibit in-person as the atmosphere would be more exciting and interactive, it was still a fun and a bit more relaxing experience at home. Even though we still have the team report and the critical reflection essay due, it feels like the course has come to an end. It was a long and challenging semester but I also had a really fun time building Spud. I am also very thankful for the teaching staff helping us in this difficult time. Hopefully, it would be better for both the teaching staff and students next semester.

exhibit #spud

Reflection (week 13)

Shao Tan - Thu 18 June 2020, 11:26 pm
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 5:01 am

Work Done

This was the last week to prepare for the exhibit, specifically: the portfolio, the demonstration video, finalizing Spud's build and doing user testing.


I planned 1 homepage and 4 other pages (Concept, Product, Features, Process) to display my work on Spud. Each section of the index page showed a short summary or introduction with links to the subsequent pages. The demonstration video I recorded is displayed in the Product page showing the detailed features and functions of Spud.


The build of Spud is completed. It can now detect when someone is physically moving close in two distances and react accordingly and listen to voice commands for tricks. I also added two button with LEDs for the users to change between the two modes: friendly and alert. However, I had no time to implement the volume detection for loud noises in the alert mode and had to simulate it with a button due to limited time as I still have to finish my portfolio website.

User Testing

I conducted user testing with my housemates and friends again with the this last version of Spud. I first observed them taking turns experiencing Spud in both the user's perspective and the person approaching the user's perspective. I then interviewed them by asking related questions about the project objectives and success criteria that I had written down in the prototype document.

The results determined that Spud is better in the friendly mode than the alert mode. Spud is not intimidating enough to make people leave the user alone in the alert mode and instead looks cute when its angry. However, the scared expression worked better that the angry expression and the stop gesture as most of the participants felt bad that they made it scared. I am still happy with how Spud turned out to be as it is well liked even with its imperfections and had fun seeing my friends' interactions with Spud as everyone had interesting and amusing reactions.

Work to be done

I still have to complete my portfolio by adding more content, taking and adding more pictures and formatting it so it does not look like a document or a report.

I also have to clean up my messy table in my room (covered with scraps and unused parts for Spud) and set up Spud and test out the webcam with Discord before the exhibit.

I look forward to the exhibit on Wednesday. Hopefully I get everything done by that day and Spud works as intended without any mistakes.

spud #portfolio #excited

Reflection (Week 12)

Shao Tan - Sun 31 May 2020, 11:58 pm
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 5:42 am

Work Done


I have been working on implementing the ultrasonic sensor and the voice recognition and have met with difficulty in making them work together without confusing the Spud program. As the ultrasonic sensor and the voice recognition software are always on, I have to decide on giving one of them the priority of making an action. Otherwise, as I'm experiencing now, when Spud detects someone nearby and listens to a voice command, it does the actions one after another without stopping. Therefore, I have decided to make voice commands the priority. Also, I have to think of a way to loop the angry expression and the stop motion where Spud shakes its head as long as it is detecting that someone is at that distance. Otherwise it would be weird if Spud just goes back to a neutral position after a while even with the person still standing there not taking the hint when it is supposed to do try and make that person to go away.

On the mean time, I did testing on the interactions of Spud with participants. I tested whether the participants understood the meaning of all the different movement and how they felt for each of them. A few commented that the movement was too slow and the dancing trick looked like Spud is angry instead of being playful. In response to this, I will increase the speed and try to make Spud look a bit more silly instead of angry.


I first planned how my portfolio will look like and have now completed the overall frame of the website and chose its colour scheme. I also drew some illustrations and icons of Spud so I can add them into the website.

Imgur Imgur

I will complete all the functions and features of Spud as soon as possible and conduct a final user testing observation and interview while adding details and information into the website.

week12 #spud

Reflection (Week 11)

Shao Tan - Sun 24 May 2020, 9:56 pm
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 5:21 am

Work Done

This week I started looking at ways to implement the ultrasonic sensor and the microphone into Spud.

I started watching videos of how to use ultrasonic sensors and tried it myself. It was quite straightforward and easy to work on. For voice recognition, I found a way of using the microphone on the laptop instead of the Arduino microphone module using C# (they used the Visual Studio IDE) from this website tutorial here. Hopefully it would not be that hard to implement these in Spud as it might be tricky to do this with two different modes, the alert and friendly mode, and having to send information from the visual studio IDE to Arduino.

I also did user testing to determine how far the distance of the person walking towards the user should be before Spud reacts. Results:

  • >1.3m away from user = normal
  • <1.3m away from user = Spud turns angry as a warning
  • <0.8m away from user = Spud shakes its head/ waves to the person.

Work to be done

For Spud, I have to start implementing the ultrasonic sensor and the voice recognition as fast as possible. At the same time, I also have to work on my website as that might take a long time to make it nice and presentable. I'll first make the form of the website and set up the CSS and JavaScript code. Then, I will write down content about my work with Spud and decide how to display it without making it just seem like a document.

week11 #spud

Reflection (week 10)

Shao Tan - Mon 18 May 2020, 7:15 pm
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 5:04 am

Prototype Appraisal

My laptop is back and running! This week, it was really nice seeing different projects of everyone. I was surprised that there were so many things that can be done. I only used servos, microphone and ultrasonic sensor but there were colorful lights, beautiful screen displays and even technology to "hack" the television and laptop.

From the feedback I received, they said that the noise that the servos make when moving was too loud which might effect the experience of interacting with it. I think it is because I got cheap, analog servos instead of digital ones. I won't be able to do anything about it but I kind of like the sound it makes, the old, traditional robot sound. Suggestions were also given that instead of using a microphone piece, I can use my laptop and Unity speech recognition. I will definitely look into that and integrate it in Spud.



For my video, I first drew storyboards for each part and wrote down my script. I then asked my housemates for help with interacting with Spud while I recorded the video with the iPad. We had a lot of fun doing that and they kept laughing at the gestures Spud makes. I then took all the video clips and edited them into a video with Adobe Premier Rush and did a voice over.

Imgur Imgur Imgur
Work to be done

I have to do user testing on the movement of Spud to obtain feedback on how to improve it to provide a good user experience. Then start to work on second phase of implementing the distance sensing, volume detection and speech recognition in Spud.

prototype #appraisal

Reflection (week 9)

Shao Tan - Sun 10 May 2020, 10:11 pm

Work Done


After last week, I realised that my previous form for Spud was too flimsy and could not hold the servos. I went to Officeworks and got a thick card material and built the two forms again: a bigger one that will move using servos to show the functionality and a smaller one to place on the shoulder, to show the actual size.



The sensor shield that I ordered online came and I used it to move all the servos in Spud together to show different emotions.


At first, the servos would not move and I thought that the 9v battery had too high voltage. I got a multimeter and tried making a voltage divider with resistors but it still did not work.


Finally I realised i had to remove a pin that was connected on the sensor shield and power both the arduino board and the sensor shield. I went on to code the different emotions and arm positions for Spud.

But... I accidentally damaged my laptop’s internal hard disk with the 9v battery when the arduino was connected to my laptop. Now my hard disk is fried and I can’t use my laptop anymore. I created a Windows recovery drive and even bought a data reader to read the data in my ssd before realising my ssd is dead. I have to get a new internal ssd and bring my old ssd to a repair shop to try to get my data back.


Work to be done

As my laptop data is gone, my progress for the assignment is also gone. When my laptop is working again, I’ll have to start working on the arduino, the video and my documentation from the beginning. Hopefully it will be faster and easier this time as I have done them before.

Reflection (Week 8)

Shao Tan - Mon 4 May 2020, 8:02 pm
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 5:12 am


This week I focused on the servos needed to move the parts of Spud (i.e. eyebrows, arms, head) to show its personality.

Spud uses 7 servos: 2 for the eyebrows, 1 for the head and 2 for each arm. I watched many videos and tutorials and I realized that I needed a external power source and a expansion shield as the Arduino Uno board cannot support that many servos. I bought them online and they should be coming on Tuesday/Wednesday.

While I was waiting for them to come, I worked on two servos to move Spud's eyebrows and built a bigger Spud as the previous one was too small to fit all of the servos and sensors. The bigger Spud form will be used to show the functionality while a smaller one will be built to show the intended size and form. When the external power source and the expansion shield comes, I'll continue working the servos for the head and the arms.

I also realised that I would most likely not have enough time to work on the jack-in-the-box style shock tactic as all the other functions would take time as I have to familiarize myself with Arduino code and using all the Arduino parts. Hopefully Spud will be able to work well with an angry face for a warning and when the person ignores it, shakes its head and puts up its arm as a stop gesture.

Imgur Imgur

Video for multiple servo control:

My Concept

Shao Tan - Thu 23 April 2020, 1:27 am
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 6:02 am


Spud is a small robot personal assistant/space manager that sits on the user's shoulder. It uses its face expressions and body language to convey its feelings and its sassy personality..


Depending on the mood of the user, Spud can switch between two modes: distancing others and befriending others. This helps the users in two different types of awkward and embarrassing situations like rejecting someone or trying to befriend them.

  1. The first testing was done to find the best appearance of Spud. Participants were asked to choose their favorite sketch of Spud and give their opinion. The final sketch of Spud: Imgur
  2. The second testing was done to find the suitable body language for different emotions. A stuffed toy was used as a model for the participants to position its arms, head and eyebrows to show different emotions.

A simple prototype was built with cardboard to think about the look and the actual size of Spud and positioning of its technical parts inside.


I realized that Spud would be too small to hide all the parts inside so a bigger prototype will be built to showcase the functionality while a smaller prototype will be built to display the look and feel of Spud.

Work to be done

I will start working on the movement of the eyebrows, head and arms with servos. Research has to also be done to think about using cameras and facial recognition instead of the ultrasonic sensor.

spud #recap #sassytech #prototype #testing

Reflection (Week 6)

Shao Tan - Sun 12 April 2020, 4:58 pm


In the studio session we learned about how to conduct different types of fieldwork during a pandemic and how to use a Miro board.

Miro Board

This is what my team mate and I came up with. Additional information about our projects will be added in after we determine the details of our form.



My Project - Spud

Spud is a small robot that sits on the user's shoulder and uses its body language and facial expressions to show its sassy personality.

User Testing Ideas

From the background research I have done for the proposal, I got an idea of getting participants to show what body language they think is suitable for an emotion. Participants will be given a figurine/teddy bear to move its limbs to create body postures and paper cut outs of eyebrows to position it on its face to create different facial expressions.To find the best method of a shock factor, different methods of shocking participants will be used. For example, the Jack-in-the-box with springs, glowing red, showing teeth, etc.

All of these testing will be done with my housemates during the mid semester break so I can start building Spud as soon as possible.

week6 #reflection #miroboard #usertesting

Reflection (Week 5)

Shao Tan - Sun 5 April 2020, 10:43 pm
Modified: Sat 20 June 2020, 5:47 am


In the meeting after the studio, my team mate and I decided that we are going to work on the project individually and focus on separate concepts. He is going to continue work on hand gestures and I will work on facial expressions and body language. We talked about how these separate concepts would work together and how it would still relate to the domain and problem space.

My Concept

For body language, I researched on different cartoon characters that are very expressive. I noticed a few recurring themes with these characters: Eyebrows, ears/antenna, body posture and glow/fire.

imgur imgur imgur imgur

I also found a video that shows the eyebrows on a robot

With the feedback from the critiques and these cartoon characters as inspiration, I drew a few sketches for my concept.



In this workshop, we talked to the tutors about our concept. I showed my sketches and expressed that I was worried that my concept would be too cute to make people maintain a distance. However, they said it can be cute and scary at the same time and gave suggestions on how to do that. For example, scaring people when they least expect it or making the form be something that people normally avoid such as spiders.


  • Choose a design from my sketches (Do testing to get feedback and opinions)
  • Decide on a scare/shock tactic when people get too close. Ideas:
  • Look at professional papers on the topic to do some background research.
  • Complete proposal

reflection #week5 #bodylanguage #cartooncharacters #cuteandscary

Reflection (Week 4)

Shao Tan - Sat 28 March 2020, 4:22 am
Modified: Sat 28 March 2020, 4:24 am



In the one week break last week, my team and I met up and continued developing our ideas from the brainstorming session we did as a group in week 3. In week 3, we talked about giving a hand a personality and using it as a way to help people in their everyday life. We decided to focus our idea on the backpack hand that acts as a personal space manager.


We thought about other ways of giving the backpack hand personality and sassy-ness, which was really fun and funny. However, after having ideas that were going all over the place, we decided to think about a problem space first before continuing.

Problem Space -> People want appropriate social distances for their social activities, without having to tell others.

With this, we decided on two intended experiences, the personal space manager (our first idea) and the conversation stopper. We named our concept The Helping Hand.

Imgur Imgur


We decided to use google slides to present our concept. Each of us chose a section to present and did voice-overs. My part was the intended experience section as I was in charge in sketching the concept and the storyboard.


Below are the some points from the critiques about The Helping Hand and my thoughts about it.

  • Too bulky, heavy
  • Smaller = more portability
  • Not convenient to move around

We added a backpack to our concept as we thought it would be easier to move the hand and its parts around. But I do agree that it is still very big and probably too heavy to walk around with it, especially in crowded areas (spaces where you would want to use it). My team and I talked about some ideas like attaching a smaller arm on a cap or a headband.

Gives the opposite effect
  • Rude, Cultural differences (can maybe be solved by looking it as a separate entity)
  • Strong personality, might scare people, make them feel awkward
  • Draws attention. People might be interested in it and purposely interact with it.
  • Distracting to user

As we wanted to make this arm seem as sassy as possible, I guess it may come off as rude and hurtful to some people. The tutors gave a good idea of making it appear as a separate entity so it would not be you being rude but the hand instead.

It drawing attention from other people could probably be solved by making it smaller or by changing its form to something simple/everyday so it can be more inconspicuous.

Other forms?
  • Face on a display
  • screen/lights/sounds
  • Doesn't have to be an arm/body part
  • Small creature
  • Puppet

For this concept, we wanted to move away from using sounds (voice), lights or facial expressions to using gestures or body language instead. This would make it more novel and give it more sass. Lorna and the tutors gave good examples of other forms that we can think about instead of using body parts. As the team members would each be designing a prototype separately, we can each focus on a different type of form and see each form's benefits and disadvantages.

Points to Note for the Future
  • Experiment on different forms
  • Make it less noticeable to avoid drawing attention (blend in, simple looking, small size)
  • Show that it is a separate entity
  • Make it less bulky and heavy to be more portable

thehelpinghand #sassytech #reflection #week4

Reflection (Week 3)

Shao Tan - Fri 13 March 2020, 8:25 pm
Modified: Fri 13 March 2020, 8:27 pm

World Cafe

This Tuesday we did the world cafe activity where we went around to different tables with different themes and brainstormed about the context, the audience/domain and how we can refine the projects.

It was nice to see different opinions on topics and ideas that I would never have thought of. Through hosting, I found out that even if the first group of people thought that nothing could be added in an idea anymore, another group of people will come and have other interesting ideas to add to it. My favorite idea of a topic was for Musical Things. When I got to the table, there was already an idea of a mat with blocks on it that represents the pitch, volume and rhythm. We tried to upgrade the idea to make it different and more sci-fi. We changed the mat into an alien world landscape with the blocks that the user would stack as buildings. The music timeline indicator is an alien that would run through the buildings controlled by the user to play the song. This would be a nice way of composing music while designing a landscape and interacting with the music.

The topics that I was interested in after the world cafe were Sassy Tech, Musical Things and Creative Learning, which were my preferences for the team formation.

Imgur Imgur

Group Formation

On Wednesday, I got in a team of my first choice - Sassy tech which I am really happy about. In our group, we looked at all the project inspirations related to our theme and the one that stood out the most was the Secret Handshake Lock idea. We thought about taking the arm, giving it a personality and putting it on other things. We also did brainstorming on places where we could attach an arm on.

Imgur Imgur Imgur

We then went online to search on existing ideas of mechanical, robotic arms and I found a Youtube channel of a woman named Simone Gertz who is named "the queen of shitty robots". She puts weird robotic arms on things like the Plastic Hand Alarm that wakes you up by slapping you and the Iphone Arms that run away from you. I then got an idea of an arm that helps slaps people away and shoots water out of its fingertips if they got in your personal space.

worldcafe #sassytech #roboticarm

Project Inspiration Feedback

Shao Tan - Fri 13 March 2020, 6:57 pm
Modified: Fri 13 March 2020, 7:19 pm

By going through the Project Inspiration Feedback, I have gotten a few questions (some repeated many times) on the functionality of the shoe.

1. How is the shoe going to get heavier to stop you from walking?

This technology has not been invented but I have thought about how I would prototype it. A large metal sheet can be positioned near the "junk food" and when the user walks near it (on the metal sheet), the shoe will be magnetized to create a "heavy" effect.

2. How is the shoe going to detect the shop?

I guess GPS can be used and a list of shops you want to stop yourself from going can be set before going out.

3. How do you get to walk again?

What I thought was if you try to back up, the shoe will sense it and slowly get lighter.

I also got ideas from the comments on how to make it more effective. For example, instead of just beeping, weird and embarrassing sounds can be played instead. Some also brought up potential safety hazards like falling over and hurting your leg trying to move the shoe. Alternatives to "trick" the shoe were also brought up, like hoarding the junk food at home so you don’t have to buy it outside, taking out your shoe before walking towards the shop, etc. Hoarding junk food at home can't be stopped but maybe an additional function like locking your feet in the shoe and not allowing you to take it out until you get home will help. Comments described this shoe as a good way to support the user by annoying them instead of punishing them.

Reflection (Week 2)

Shao Tan - Fri 6 March 2020, 10:30 am
Modified: Fri 6 March 2020, 10:55 am

In Class

This week, we had our 2-minute Project Inspiration Presentations in class. I had fun listening to everyone presenting as it was interesting to see silly and quirky ideas that I would never have thought of. I thought that it was nice to limit them to short 2-minute presentations because if it was longer, we would have all gotten bored.

We also had critique sheets to write down our opinions and comments for everyone's presentation. It did a good job keeping me focused on the presentations and made me reflect on each idea.



I had both the Soldering 101 Induction and the 78-207 Space Induction this week.

It was my first time soldering. I was fine following the diagram to connect all the parts to the breadboard as I already learned this in DECO7230. However, for soldering, I had more trouble. I had to position everything properly to be able to fit it in the box. Positioning the switch on the other side, the height for the LED and the distance between each part to make soldering easier. I also had to use wires to connect to the battery as there were not enough battery holders for everybody.

After soldering everything, I showed it to Ben and we found out that the LED is always on even if I switch it off. This was because the solder was all touching each other. I had to separate it all and made a mess to make it work.

Imgur Imgur

week2 #presentations #critiques #inductions #soldering

Project Ideation

Shao Tan - Fri 6 March 2020, 10:14 am
Modified: Fri 6 March 2020, 10:15 am

Project Inspirations Ideas

I had a few different ideas for my project inspiration presentation and these are the ones that did not make the final cut.



p.s. I used the third idea (bottom right) as my final project inspiration.

I was browsing through the internet to see whether any of my ideas already existed when I found a shoe that is similar to my first idea.

GPS Shoe


The shoe has LEDs in the toes of the shoes. The LED lights on the left shoe point the wearer to their destination and the right shoe shows the distance.



For these ideas, I designed them with introverts in mind. Some introverts have trouble communicating with other people and some of them want alone time and a personal space for themselves.

projectinspiration #ideas #smartshoes #introverts

Project Ideas & Inspiration

Shao Tan - Tue 3 March 2020, 1:05 am
Modified: Tue 3 March 2020, 1:09 am

No Craving Shoe

The shoe that keeps you away from your unhealthy food cravings.



Food cravings are powerful things. People are often triggered by environment cues, e.g. seeing an ad with a picture of a juicy burger or walking past an ice cream shop seeing all the different flavors on display. It is hard to stop people from seeing all these cues, so why not stop people from getting near the food instead.

How it Works

The No Craving Shoe is a shoe that senses when the user is walking towards a shop selling unhealthy food. It will then use three different ways to warn and stop them from going closer. It will start with a small warning by vibrating once. This acts as an alert. If the user ignores the warning and goes closer, the shoe will start blinking red and start beeping. This embarrasses the user to try to make them stop. If the user ignores the warning once again, the shoe will start getting heavier and heavier until it is hard for the user to walk towards the shop. This method tries to stop the user physically. Even if the user is strong enough to walk to the shop, at least they got some exercise before eating.


Pavlok the Habit Changing Wristband

Pavlok is a wristband that zaps its user to help them break their bad habit. However, Dr. Greg Cason, a psychologist, said that it is not effective as users will just remove it when it zaps them. So, I wanted to create something that would not punish or hurt the user but would create inconvenience for them. Also, it would be harder for the user to "escape" from the shoe compared to a wristband out in public.

Reflection (Week 1)

Shao Tan - Fri 28 February 2020, 4:34 pm

First Day

We talked about our thoughts on what we would learn from the course, our aspirations, fears, rumors of the course and questions. What I was most worried about was us not being able to fully build what we designed for the project. But I was told that that is perfectly normal and that it was impossible to build it exactly the way you want it in a few weeks.

We then looked at projects that were done by students in previous years and went on to find projects that will inspire us for our own projects. I realised that there are many different directions that the project can go and therefore are endless possibilities of what we can design and build.

Second Day
7 HCI Grand Challenges

We had to read a grand challenge from the paper that we were assigned to before the class and then discuss in groups what we understood from it. My group first listed down all the important parts that we understood from each section and finally summarised everything in a short description.

Imgur Imgur

In the second part of the class, we did a very fun activity of using cards and words to form a sentence. I think it was a great way of forcing us to think outside the box as many of my sentences didn't make sense. This way, we could think of novel ideas and things that seem ridiculous.

Imgur Imgur Imgur

week1reflection #7hcigrandchallenges #ideation

Introduction (Week 1)

Shao Tan - Fri 28 February 2020, 3:26 pm

Hi everyone, my name is Shao and I'm from Malaysia. I'm in my third semester of Master of Interaction Design and I previously studied Bachelor of Information Technology.

I am confident in designing but have become rusty in my programming skills. In this course, I hope to work hard and train my coding skills and become comfortable with it again. I also really like that there is a space like UQ Innovate where I can learn new skills and build the things that I design.

I will work hard and have fun in this course and I look forward in seeing all of our projects at the end of the semester.

introduction #week1