Posts Tagged ‘Sensitive Buildings’

Sensitive Buildings: Homeworks, Projects, Documentation.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

If you will recall, sometime beginning November, I deleted my entire blog, because I’m an idiot. Here is all the documentation for my Sensitive Buildings class.
Notice: Some videos are still being processed by Vimeo.

Click to jump to a section:
Observation Assignment
Basic Chat and Doorbell Projects
Focus Groups
Simple Sensor Networks
Final Project

Observation Assignment

Below is a summary of our (Alex O. and I) impressions from our observation assignment at the High Line. Click here for slides.


Highline, Saturday around 4:30 p.m.

What was learned, what was counter to your original expectations or filled out your mental model in an interesting way?

Alex:  I had never been to the Highline before, so I wasn’t sure what I expected.  I guess I pictured something that was very uniform throughout, more like a boardwalk or a walking path lined by plants.  Parts of the highline had open areas for performances, while others had a lot more vegetation.  I figured that it would be full of tourists trying to see New York from a different vantage point.  Both Luis and I were surprised by the number of couples.  It seemed like a place where couples might visit before going out to dinner.
Luis:  The few times I’ve been to the highline it hasn’t been so busy. I went during the night when most of the tourist were gone. I had never seen the highline so busy, but I pretty much expected normal tourist behavior: gazing, taking pictures, talking and moving along at a leisurely pace. I was surprised at the number of couples we saw at the Highline. We counted group sizes and couples were by far the largest group, followed by people walking on their own, groups of three, and finally groups of 4 or more.

What seems like a ripe opportunity?
People at the Highline are there to take in an environment and a certain ambience.  They are escaping to a quieter, more peaceful part of the city.  It’s interesting that the Highline also serves as a vantage point to see some of the buildings, etc.
When people are visiting the Highline, they are also creating memories.  It’s a place to go with your significant other or friends and family (when on a vacation).
The park is lacking in wayfinding features (maps, signs, points of interest, and other geographic info), and there is a lot of opportunity to do something with telling people where they are/where they are going/what’s around. We found a lot of people looking at their maps.
What are some projects that should be relevant to this space, or to some of the behaviors?

Unlike an open park, people at the highline are usually there to walk in one of two directions to observe the skyline and the features of the park, so in a way it’s like walking through an exhibition. Any project created could take advantage of the linear movement of people, perhaps a project where participation is continuous as people walk through the park.

Potential projects include:

-A project that visualizes the general momentum of people at the park (could be a nighttime projection.  People see themselves going either against the flow or with it).
-It would also be interesting to add historical context to the park. Perhaps the park could have a visualization of how many people were travelling by train at that particular moment of the day 60 years ago and compare that to how many people walk along the park.
What data is still missing and what further research would you recommend?
The actual number of people entering and leaving the park at any time (over time?). It would be interesting to see where people are coming from and where they are going after they leave the park. Perhaps a lot of the couples go take a walk on the Highline before getting dinner.

Basic Chat and Doorbell Projects.

The following video demonstrates two xbees communicating with each other. For this lab, I worked with Sheiva Rezvani. When the switch is pressed on one circuit, a light turns on on the other circuit. Science! Click here for the code.

In this video Annelie Berner, and I worked on created a mood lighting sensor. Click here for the code.

Focus Groups

Here are the notes I took from the Focus Group at 240 Central Park South

Interview With Residents:

  • Watched the neighboorhood change
    • Tours have taken away from the neighborhood feel
    • “Midtown ghetto”
    • Used to be quieter, lost mom & pop stores
  • Criteria for moving into these apartments
    • Doorman, fireplace, location
    • Keen sense of community.
    • Convenient store in building
    • Convenience of commute is incidental
  • More kids nowadays
  • Have gained new facilities: new stores, new places to eat
  • Dog/Cat friendly
    • People know each other through their pets
    • Love dogs
    • They are not allowed to have dogs anymore.
    • Noise from construction
  • Some of the residents have computers and engage in social media
  • Mix internet use.
  • Communicate sometimes with neighbors via email.
  • Biggest expectation was the access to the park
    • Sometimes it is crowded.
    • Feel like they’re at the center of the world.
    • Supermarket, facilities at Time Warner center
    • They go to the park often
  • Great doormen, feel secure
    • Like the sense of being greeted
  • Very unique apartments
    • Gets a little cold sometimes
    • Slamming of doors
    • A couple of whackjobs
    • Problems with pedicabs
    • No other complaints
  • Thanksgiving Day parade, gets very busy.
  • Cost of living going up, hard for people on fixed income
  • They “know” each other, but not by name, know of people
    • Get together with about 5 other neighbors
    • Know of people who use the same elevator banks
  • Talk to other staff
    • Front desk is first point of contact
    • Even with all the systems in place, Jerry still takes care of them. Still a personal link with people.
  • Trash/bucket system, not everyone knows how it works
    • Some people don’t separate trash
    • But system is clear
  • Electricity used to be included, now each tenant pays their own
  • People don’t really use the courtyard, the rooftop by the boiler room.
  • Some facilities are not accessible by rent controlled tenants: gym, storage space, etc.

Simple Sensor Network

Annelie Berner and I worked on creating this simple sensor network from “Understanding Networks”. We had some trouble with reconnecting one of the xbee’s to CoolTerm, and were unable to get the network to work. Here are some pictures of the setup.



For our ethnography assignment, Annelie, Kaitlin and I decided to study Kaitlin’s apartment. Because we did the assignment in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, and since we all lived near each other, we figured we would study KTL’s apartment. Here are the slides that were presented in class.

Final Project

For our final project, Shieva, Ali, and I were inspired by the fact that Antoine de Saint-Exupery used to live at 240 Central Park South. We set out to read the Little Prince in search for inspiration, and one passage that particularly interested us was one where the Little Prince mentioned that his planet was so small that he could scoot his chair a few feet and he could get to see the sunset again, and that at one point he witnessed 44 sunsets in a single day. We took this idea of multiple sunsets and attempted to reconstruct a window into live sunsets all over the world. However, we didn’t want to ignore the fact that people would be watching the sunsets from this buildings located in a busy area of New York City, so we decided to add an input into the video. Using sound sensors connected to xbee radios, we would receive live feeds of sound levels from the street (facing Columbus Circle). Using this data stream, we would glitch the sunset videos as they cycled through different parts of the world.
Before we had decided to programmatically incorporate the glitch into the video, we experimented with adding the glitch using an analog sound signal. We took a VGA cable and stripped it of its shielding. We then wrapped copper wire around the RGB wires of the VGA cable. Using a signal generator, we were able to add a pretty interesting glitch into the video. Below is a video of this setup.

Finally, we decided to program the glitch into the video because the signal we were to receive from the Xbee’s was not something we could convert into an analog signal with the required frequency. We ended up programming the glitch, and this was the result.

Pictures coming soon!