An actuated object with “muscle wires” also known as Flexinol.
Meeting with the WOMA Fablab
I met Guillaume, of the WOMA. It was a one hour meeting. We talked about my concept and the different prototypes I thought of. He was enthusiastic towards my idea. He told me I really need to have a less condescending speech to avoid sounding like someone criticizing people for the way they behave [and, of course, it’s not my intention].
I told him about the 3 prototypes I had in mind:
- Animatronics phone case [back of the phone]
- Phone case with LEDs [back of the phone]
- Something like the HTC Dot Case [protecting the screen]
He was skeptical concerning the prototypes on the back of the phone because as I knew it would be thick and large. And the more I want think technologies and components, the more expansive it is. Even if he liked the idea of the muscle wire to animate the phone case, he told me that it was difficult to make an easy industrialized production and I was aware of the fact that it still needed energy and it couldn’t be thin. Concerning the proposition with LEDs, making it look like growing vines is cool but risk could be it to be considered as a vivid-colored computer or car [tuning]. Fact is, in both cases [pun not intended] it would require an arduino board with a bluetooth shield and a battery. It would be something like 500 to 600€ to prototype it [considering the fact that they would need to help me a lot because I think I wouldn’t be able to work a lot on the hardware and code].
On the contrary I explained him what I had in mind with this dotted case. We both agreed on the fact that it was better and it could really sell my idea and my serve my speech. With a simple thin piece of wood and an app, it’s possible to build a system to help people optimize their daily use of their devices and of social networks ! It doesn’t use a lot of energy, it can be discrete, it can be customizable and unique, and easy to produce.
I sent my presentation by mail to his colleagues and I need to give him news next week with a brief of the first prototype I would like to present.
HTC Dot Case
Yesterday I told my roommate Maxime about the different problems and paradoxes I was facing with my concept. He gave me a good reference, it’s a phone case created by HTC for its model HTC One M8. It’s called the “dot case”. To make it quick, the device detects if the screen is covered or not. It it is, the screen loads colored rectangles; the dots on the case transform this rectangles in a minimalistic interface displaying useful informations. It only uses a small part of the screen. it can also display informations concerning the notifications received, and it’s still interactive. It means that you can touch, swipe, scroll. So if you receive a call, no need to open it, just swipe down. The idea is so simple, maybe it’s an alternative to the technology monster I’m trying to build, despite the fact I would like it to look simple too… I will talk with the WOMA tomorrow and see what they think of the idea.
Questioning the physical form
Last week I went to La Paillasse. It’s a biohacking space created by Thomas Landrain. His team and him created a Bio Ink. “Imagine a pen that grows it’s own ink”. I talked to him about my project. He gave me an interesting feedback and told me to contact some fablabs as Usine.io and WOMA. I called Guillaume from WOMA and I have an appointment with him soon to pitch my project and explain how I would like it to be. I’m not a product nor an industrial designer. I know that some options I want to add to my connected phonecase would be tricky with hardware, so maybe there exist ways to do it differently.
I just finished my keynote and some graphic prototypes. Recently, in the subway, I has the idea to add LED wires to the phone case like vine. There would be green, orange and red wires. I wanted to separate them because the way they are attached to the cellular-looking structure of the phone case could also be part of the graphic expression of the information. A vivid red light with sharp angles doesn’t provide the same information than a round angled curved line. I can also use animation if there are multiple little LEDs inside a thin tube. I’ll let you know soon about it!
With my meeting at La Paillasse, discussions with professors, colleagues and random people, I start to think that there are more and more people who are not confortable with the idea that my object uses energy. Despite the fact that I explain that it can be optimized at its maximum, that it updates just once or twice a day with a low signal, that it can uses solar panels, it’s still too much. I thought that it could help me explaining that my project doesn’t criticize the use of energy but it’s more about the efficiency, but I think it doesn’t work. It’s paradoxal. Or it will use complex technologies. And people want simplicity. I started to believe that they were right and I, too, thought that it wasn’t helping me at all, to have this complex machine plugged to a smartphone. Will it be heavy ? Will it use a lot of energy ? Is it fragile ? Because it’s a phone case so I need to avoid to create a phone case that also needs a protection.
I think that I need to ideate about the form and focus on the real meaning of this object. I need something that helps me explaining my concept, helps me explaining the concept of energy efficiency, helps me creating the reflex to optimize the use of our smartphones and social networks.