Play-testing conducted on October 8th generated positive reception of the light/shadow box. People commented on the beauty of the images created, and were excited by it.
Playtesting turned out to be far more useful than I thought. Initially, I was concerned that because my project was an art piece and not a design-oriented project, it would be inappropriate to play-test “the artist’s message”. Thankfully, actual experience showed this to not be the case. Play-testers generally understood what I was trying to do. They made good suggestions on how to make it better, offered further areas for exploration and helped to clarify decision points that I’ll need to make as the project proceeds toward finalization.
Key issues for resolution:
To Servo, or Not To Servo?
- Should servos to control the blinds or should I let users control them by hand?
- People really enjoyed controlling the blinds by hand, and there is a certain deep satisfaction of direct control that I hesitate to even put servos in there.
- Other people suggested that I have some kind of half-user controlled, half-servo controlled blinds. Like blinds that can be moved by hand but always set back to zero by themselves.
- This is a tough one because it is directly at the heart of my piece. Putting servos for user control requires buttons to be made, wiring to be thought out, wiring to be placed and hidden — it requires a lot of work.
- However, keeping it directly user controlled would imply a specific type of light patterns at the back.
- Not doing servos would save me a ton of work and let me focus on the interaction aspect of it with the users and the light patterns
- DECISION: No servos. With the time I’m taking off in Colombia, I’m cutting it short as it is. I’ll just focus on the blinds interactions.
- Decision: No gears. It’s a little late in the game for gears.
- I’m not sure what pre-programmed patterns should appear on the board. During playtesting I manually programmed the arduino to display different sets of neopixel colour. Mostly I had the board be two different colours, which were sufficient to display the light/shadow effects on the blinds on the surface. People commented that they had the urge to change the colours as they changed the blinds.
- Should the colours be user controlled? No it would be too complicated to give them full control, but I could give them partial control, or at least put a button for some change to happen, even if they don’t control the parameters of that change.
- Solution: users will be partial control with one button to change colour. However I will define the patterns that user changes to. This is a mix of half control and half spontaneous.
Decisions about Blind Layers and Shapes.
- Coming into play testing I had reservations about the original design which was two layers of blinds. The one-layer image is so much crisper, clearer and vibrant than the two layers, because the distance from LED to projective surface is smaller. Yet it lacks a certain degree of complexity that the two layer image is, despite being more faded. For sheer colour display considerations, I think I will make it one layer.
- It was also suggested that I use different shaped blinds, not just rectangles. Maybe circles or different shaped objects. The shapes of the two layers could also be different. CONCLUSION: run experiment with second layer of objects.
- Someone suggested that there should be acrylic on the sides of the boxes so we can see colours on different sides of the box.
- This bring up the different canvas possibilities.
- Solution: I think it would be interesting to have the side of the box show the different angle of light reflecting, but the top and bottom of the box will not show this so the top and bottom of the box should be wood, while the sides are acrlyic.
Where to put the arduino?
- For playtesting, I had the neopixels attached to a nearby UNO, but I would like for the controller to build into the piece, ideally the back of it.
- Make final enclosure, enclose Teensy, acrylic (potentially I could use some pieces I already have), wood
- Do blinds experiments, decide upon final config, make final blinds: wood(?) metal(?) other pieces of vellum paper?? (could really work)
- Program light interactions with user
Bill of materials
I already have most of my materials including
- Thick acrylic projective front panel
- LED board
- standoffs that make the entire structure, as well as screws
- Other pieces of acylic for the side:
I will need to decide on:
material for final blinds (maybe balsa wood?) of course this relies upon my experiments with different types of blinds
I will need to get: wood for the top and bottom (or maybe it should just be acrylic all the way?