Color hue test and color composition

Get the code: Processing

Taking the color hue test is a way to gauge your color acuity, or perception of changes in color. A perfect score is 0, which means that you successfully arranged the elements of each color gradient in the correct order. I scored 8 so it seems I am quite colorfully acute.

The other part of this assignment was to create a color composition and alter it in a few ways. Below are my compositions. The first is the original and the other three have been manipulated by hue, brightness, and saturation, respectively.

Final project: Sound Kites

Get the code: Arduino + Processing

My final project for Physical Computing (with Yu Ji) is called Sound Kites. It is an installation/space consisting of sheets of fabrics and materials hanging from the ceiling to a height of about seven feet off of the ground. Attached to these sheets are strings which trigger a soundscape when pulled on.

This project evolved from a few different ideas that we had which centered around using a fan or source of air to create interesting interaction. One idea was to amplify a user's breath by syncing it with a fan. Another idea involved using a fan to float the sheets of fabric in order to produce a buoyant effect. Some of this early work can be seen in one of Yu's blog posts.

After some deliberation, we removed the fan from our project entirely. It wasn't clear what the fan was adding to the experience, and we were able to create the interaction we desired without directly using air in this way.

The circuit is very simple - there are 3 stretch sensors and 3 pull-down resistors connected to an Arduino Uno. Pulling on a string stretches the stretch sensor, causing a change in resistance which is picked up by Processing (working with Arduino through serial). Two different thresholds for the sensor values cause sound to be played either normally or with a phaser effect.

The sounds were found on open-source audio websites like the Internet ArchiveFreesound (windchimes), and Behance (i/dex). I edited the three sound files to make their keys more similar, and we only used portions of the files. The sound loops continuously and only the gain setting is affected when a string is pulled, meaning that it would be possible to synchronize sounds to give the user even more complex interaction.

We used the Minim audio library to play sounds through Processing, which caused us problems with the quality of the audio playback when changing the gain. This introduces pops and clicks into the audio which definitely diminished the quality of the interaction experience. If this projects goes forward we will need to explore other options for producing sound.

The project was well received by our class. One interesting thing was that most of the users, when asked later, didn't know where the sound was coming from (computer speakers sitting on a shelf). This pointed to the fact that we had completely engaged them to the point that they didn't even think about the system's operation. This fact was a big achievement for us and will undoubtedly influence our future design decisions for this project and others to come.

Logo analysis & design

I think Chevrolet has a very successful logo. The Chevrolet Bowtie, as its called, is a simple shape which can be used for just about anything. It can be embellished or left plain. It can stand alone or with a title. It's so good that it can be used equally well as a 3-D garnish on a vehicle or a 2-D emblem on a page.

The history of the Bowtie, according to the official Chevy Culture page, is up for debate. There are no less than four competing theories, and each one is speculative at best. The only certainty is that the logo was introduced in 1913 by the company's co-founder, William C. Durant. The possible sources of inspiration include:

  • the wallpaper in a French hotel
  • an original sketch at dinner one night
  • a newspaper advertisement for the Southern Compressed Coal Company
  • the national flag of Switzerland

The Bowtie is powerful regardless of its origins, and I kind of enjoy the fact that the genesis of such a successful design has been lost to time. It adds to long tradition of this logo and proves that good design often comes from serendipity, something that I experienced while redesigning the ITP logo.

Obscure ITP logo

Current ITP "logo"

ITP does have a logo but I had to do some serious digging to find it. It's not easily found on the ITP website and maybe that's because it's fallen out of favor. I myself don't really like it - I think it's cheesy and has a weird sense of visual weight. What's more commonly seen instead are the letters "ITP" in a thick sans-serif font. This is a boring, if not uninspiring, representation of a community that puts such emphasis on creativity and communication.

I started by sketching logos and evolving forms which I found appealing. My first ideas included an arrow to symbolize forward-thinking. On its own, this didn't produce great results, but it indirectly led me to considering the "P" as a shape instead of a letter; specifically, a semi-circle attached to a rectangle.

By the second page I had mostly scrapped the arrow idea and was experimenting with ways to pack the three letter shapes together to minimize open space. After sleeping on the designs, I chose to continue with the very last one from the second page.

Once I starting trying colors from the NYU color palette, it was clear that this design had more potential than I originally thought. Instead of having a completely white "T" as in my sketch, I blended the colors where the letters overlapped (using this Color Blender tool).  The result is a much more interesting logo that still has the simplicity of the original design.

The fading not only solved the problem of the top bar of the "T" disappearing off the logo on a white background, but it also lends the logo nicely to single-color applications, which is important so that it can be used in a multitude of ways.

Two unexpected things came out of this.  The first is that the overlap of the "I" and the "T" looks like it could be the dot of the "I", which is a nice effect.  The second is that this design makes the "I" and the "P" stand out significantly. With the unique approach to Intellectual Property taken at ITP, this seems to be particularly apt.