The Social And Digital Systems (SANDS) Group is a transdisciplinary research collective within the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering at Arizona State University. Our materially-oriented work draws on approaches from computer science, interaction design, humanities, and philosophy of technology. Our current research examines bottom-up participation in science, DIY (Do It Yourself) methods, and the mechanisms by which expertise and knowledge is scaffolded amongst communities of practice.
We will host the conference in Tempe Arizona, a vibrant and growing Sonoran desert city. The main venue, the Tempe Mission Palms, is walking distance to the ASU Campus and in the heart of Tempe shops, bars, and galleries. The conference rooms, AV services, catering, palm courtyard, and rooftop pool reception deck will offer a flexible meeting space for academic and social gatherings during the conference. Phoenix is well known as an ideal winter destination, boasting average high temperatures in February ranging from 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit and a low chance of precipitation, while much of the rest of the northern hemisphere may be suffering from severe winter weather.
Our bid proposed the theme of Hybrid Materials with the aim of strengthening transdisciplinary tries across the tangible interaction, HCI, material sciences, social sciences, and arts communities. Gaining increasing momentum over the last five years, the material turn and its effect within HCI has generated development in numerous fields of interest to the TEI community.
Over the past few years, TEI research has increasingly embraced hybridity, whether through material explorations of composites such as bioelectronic, on-body, or active materials, or theoretical inquiries into socio-technical systems as hybrid assemblies. The theme of Hybrid Materials will continue to catalyze this exciting trend of tangible interaction research at the intersection of social, technical, biological, and artistic systems. Topics focusing on hybridity in interaction design include but are not limited to:
- active materials
- material as interface
- expressive computing
- human perception
- bioelectronic systems and interactions
- on-body computing
- new materialism
- computer as material
- sociotechnical assemblies
- design things
- seamful computing
- hybrid sense-making
- transdisciplinarity and HCI
- rapid prototyping
- participatory design
- productive tensions in design
Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to our bid. On behalf of AME, we are really excited and very honored to host the conference in 2019!
In the wake of global climate change, our world is projected to experience more extreme heat waves over the next few decades.
Phoenix, Arizona, where this research was conducted, is one of the hottest locations on the planet and presents a testbed for understanding and addressing heat-related challenges. This research focuses on adaptation as a design strategy that compliments existing approaches to mitigate human impact on the environment.
We held a summer-long diary study that helped us to understand how extreme heat impacts human lives and how participants cope with extreme heat.
Above: Data from our diary study of extreme heat: thermal camera image captured by a participant and participants’ journals
These findings motivated our critical making work themed around adaption, focusing on artifacts for visualizing, coping with, and utilizing extreme heat. In constructing these artifacts, we were able to critically reflect on both the benefits and drawbacks of designing for adaptation.
Above: Solar Cooker made from re-purposed materials
Above: A sensor-enabled hot composter deployed outside
Above: Solar-powered chiller
Above: “Phoenix, a survivor’s guide” is designed to provide local knowledge and resources to the uninitiated in surviving the extremes of the desert climate. The survival guide is intended as a low-cost, DIY style, self-printed zine to be distributed amongst vulnerable populations.
Above: Visualizing extreme heat: screenprinting with thermochromic ink and a paint-based heat visualization
To see the full paper, click here.
The paper will be presented at the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA 2017).
Fluid Sound Interface explores new interactions to generate sound. In this specific project, it examines how screen printing as a low-cost and versatile methods to help with sound sculpting through designing malleable, reproducible musical instruments.
HCI community has seen an evolution of printing mechanisms beyond producing static visual components to create interactive artifacts such as paper circuits, printable touch sensors, and printed thin-film displays.
We focus on screen printing as a DIY fabrication process that uniquely complements existing processes for creating low-cost and easily replicable interactive systems. As part of this process, low-cost conductive screen printing inks are applied to a range of substrate materials and combined with an Arduino-based circuit and music processing software to support new interactions and performance scenarios in the domain of music making.
What is more, research into haptic and tangible musical interfaces has explored methods for transducing gestural information into the sonic realm through force feedback controllers, as well as malleable interfaces. These approaches imagine interaction with physical materials as a means to ‘sculpt’ digital sound. Furthermore, we propose that the very nature of the substrate materials—which could be folded, bent, stretched, or even cut or torn during performance—offer a rich set of affordances for manipulating sonic material.
Our research themes will be situated at the intersection of various interdisciplinary research fields involving design, human-computer interaction, and tangible media. Beyond the above-mentioned application in music and sound, we are also thinking about the wider application of screen printing with different material and sensor techniques for more user groups, such as disabled people.
Recently we started a new project to analyze hand movements of artists while they are drawing on a physical drawing canvas. The goal of this project is to uncover the latent elements of the creative process of artists while they draw on a canvas and combine them with the final static art piece to create a novel art experience. To achieve this we capture the hand movements of the artists while they are engaged in the drawing process. Then the captured information is displayed as part of a visualization that will be superposed into the actual art piece to create dynamic form of art.
In our first experiment we used a LEAP motion sensor to capture the finger and palm position of the right hand(drawing hand) of artist while they draw on a paper mounted in easel. Then we create a dynamic visualization by plotting the angle between the right index finger and the center of the palm over the period of drawing.
Since the LEAP’s spatial location data is not very accurate, now we are building a new experiment setup. The new system is composed of an easel with two cameras: one to capture the vertical position of the drawing instrument and a second one that captures its horizontal position. A LEAP motion sensor is also used to track the finger and palm during the drawing process. At the end LEAP’s data will be combined with data captured from 2 cameras accurately re-produce the finger and palm movements of the artists. Following image shows our new setup.
As part of our heat-themed research, we are planning to use a drone to get thermal data for parts of Arizona. Nambi has been working with the DJI Matrice series drone and a FLIR Vue Pro thermal camera. This week, we did our first test flight in Papago park. The drone is impressively stable and responsive!
We are really excited about a second upcoming test to get some preliminary thermal data in urban and suburban areas a few weeks from now. Our longer-term goal is to use this high resolution fly-over data to study the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) in Phoenix—a phenomenon whereby cities tend to be hotter than surrounding suburbs. We are also interested in mapping microclimates in different socioeconomic neighborhoods across the city.
While 3D printers have become more accessible, it is still relatively expensive and time consuming to generate 3D prints. In addition, the materials commonly available for 3D printing are limited to certain types of plastics. We wanted to explore the possibilities of broadening the affordability and material variety for making multiple models by using traditional mold-making with 3D printed sources. This way, by 3D printing a single model, users would be able to create multiple finished molds using a variety of materials.
Crayon – Solar Heating
As an early experiment in melting materials, we used solar heating to melt Crayola crayons into different shapes. Crayons have a relatively low melting temperature, becoming completely molten at between 120-150 degrees fahrenheit, which is an easy temperature to reach while sitting outside in Phoenix, Arizona during early Autumn.
left: fused crayons after heating; middle: cut up pieces of crayon before being heated; right: pieces of crayon fusing as they melt
Wax – 3D printing tests
Since we wanted to make these models useful for molding several different types of materials, including food, we wanted to insure that the 3D printed models would be food safe. The main ways to insure that a 3D print are food safe are to 1) use a food safe printing material (some types of PLA are food safe, but it is important to check with the manufacturer), 2) use a 3D printer that has a stainless steel extruder, 3) wash the 3D model with antibacterial soap, and 4) spray the model with a polyurethane spray to prevent the risk of bacteria growing in small cracks in the 3D print.
For testing the viability of the 3D models as molds, we used wax as a test molding material, since wax is solid at room temperature but can melt at between 110-150 degrees fahrenheit (depending on type of wax), and so is easy to melt using normal household items.
The first 3D print prototype used a raised image inside of a hollow cube, with the hopes that the wax could be poured in when hot and would be removed easily once hardened (a no-stick spray was applied to the 3D print before the wax was poured in). However, it appeared impossible to remove the wax from the model intact. By putting sheets of saran wrap between the wax and the 3D model, it was possible to remove the wax once dried. However, the resulting wax molds were unable to properly adhere to the shape of the 3D model because of the presence of the saran wrap.
left: first 3D printed model; right: the only way to remove the wax molds in one piece was to place a layer of saran wrap in between the plastic model and the wax as it melts. However, that resulted in the wax not adhering to the shape of the 3D model well.
After the first model proved ineffective for casting wax, we created a second model which had a hollow bottom, in the hope that the wax mold could be pushed out of the model once it had hardened. This did succeed, but it was still fairly difficult to remove the wax mold and there was some surface abrasions to the wax.
left: liquid wax cooling inside the second model. The model was placed on top of wax paper to prevent the liquid wax from leaking out from the bottom of the model. right: resulting wax model. While a marked improvement from the previous attempts, it was still difficult to remove from the 3D print and had sustained minor damage.
Wax – Silicone mold
Because the wax was proving difficult to remove from the inflexible plastic 3D prints, we chose to look for possible in-between methods of transferring a 3D print into a molded material. We decided to use silicone putty, a material that starts out with a texture resembling play-doh but will solidify into a permanent shape while still maintaining flexibility. To create the silicone mold, silicone putty was spread around a 3D print and left to dry. Afterwards, hot wax was poured into the silicone mold, whose flexible properties made it much easier to remove the wax after it hardened.
left: original 3D print; right: silicone mold that was created from dried silicone putty that was molded around the 3D print; bottom: resulting wax piece that was cast in and removed from the silicone model. Despite being much thinner (and therefore more fragile) than the previous wax molds, the wax piece was removed from the silicone with significantly less damage than the wax tests that were cast directly in the 3D prints.
Given the success of molding with wax, we did some preliminary experiments with food materials using the same silicone mold, which was created from a type of silicone putty that has been designated and labeled as food-safe.
The chocolate tests were mostly successful, with the only notable problem being that the surface detail of the chocolate molds appear to have lumps or pockets in their surfaces. This may be caused by air pockets being stuck under the liquid chocolate as it is poured into the silicone mold, or the type of chocolate that was used (standard chocolate chips) is not designed to remain smooth after being melted and re-solidified.
The success of the gelatin molds varied based on the type of gelatin that was used.
below: When using Jello brand gelatin mix, the resulting gelatin did not maintain its shape when being removed from the silicone mold.
below: Alternatively, coffee agar mix (which is intended to be cut up into cubes or other shapes after hardening, and thus was designed with greater internal resilience than Jello) was easily removed from the silicone mold without any damage.
Phoenix is one of the hottest cities on earth, with highs regularly reaching over 110F in the summer months. Climate projections suggest that many other parts of the world are also heating up, and Phoenix presents a testbed for understanding the challenges and opportunities presented by extreme heat. One of our projects looks at creatively using heat for sustainable outcomes through solar cooking.
We focus on solar cooking as a hybrid approach that supports both adaptation—by utilizing natural heat and alleviating economic impact (indoor cooking increases AC bills); and mitigation—reducing energy consumption. Also, by relying on a natural source of energy, solar cooking offers new insights into alternative modes of food production and sustainable food systems.
As a first step, we conducted a summer-long study whereby participants built DIY solar cookers and prepared foods ranging from slow-cooked pork and chicken to bread, kale chips, brownies, beef jerky, and fruit rollups. The project culminated in a solar cooking potluck where we prepared solar cooked foods as a group. Our findings show that solar cooking is indeed feasible and often fun. However, the process is also challenging. Solar cooking currently requires time-intensive monitoring of the food temperature and re-positioning the oven towards the sun. It also requires highly-specialized knowledge, both in terms of recipe palatability and food safety.
Moving forward, we are designing an easier-to use solar oven and knowledge-sharing platform to support solar cooking as a mainstream practice. On a practical level, these new tools can alleviate the real economic difficulties posed by extreme heat as well as improve local nutrition, food knowledge, and human health. The project is also interesting from a cultural perspective as we are creating the first ever community knowledgeable around “solar cooking cuisine”. We also hope to share the work more broadly through public cookouts and exhibits to engage the public in dialogues around extreme heat, sustainable energy, and climate change.