Physical Computing

Physical Computing - Week 3: Observation About Microwave Oven & Analog and Digital IO Application

I am kind of stuck with the debate between reaction and interaction. Picking a piece of interactive technology, which seemed easy before, now is a big challenge to me.

To some extent, I very much agree with Crawford’s opinion that reaction will never turn into an interaction. But the truth is, technology, especially the microcontroller, have assigned the traditionary reaction the ability to be interactive If I have to make a conclusion about what I have thought about for recent days.

 

Microwave Oven on the 4th floor of Tisch building

Microwave Oven on the 4th floor of Tisch building

 

This thought explains why I picked microwave oven in public as the target of my observation. I believe that the small chip inside microwave ovens must process a lot to make its user emotionally satisfied.(But the result of observation said NO!!!)

In fact, I picked more than one microwave ovens, the main target was located on the 4th floor of Tisch building. The others were located inside my apartment or in best buy store, which seemed a little lonely because I found no one walked past it in nearly 30 minutes.

Microwave Oven in my apartment

Microwave Oven in my apartment

the control panel of out microwave oven(No one knew what def2 stand for)

the control panel of out microwave oven(No one knew what def2 stand for)

lonely microwave oven in Best buy store

lonely microwave oven in Best buy store

another lonely microwave oven in Best buy store

another lonely microwave oven in Best buy store

The LED display of lonely microwave oven

The LED display of lonely microwave oven

A different type of control panel

A different type of control panel

First, I observed the appearance of each microwave oven and how people looked at it.
Second, I observed the whole transaction of using the microwave oven to heat food.
Last but not the least, I analyzed the panel interaction, which I thought was the most difficult part to use and took the longest time.

(I rewrite the next paragraph using bullet lines to make it clearly)

  1. black, placed in the half of a man’s height. That meant when it was being used, 3 out of 8 had to bend down to see clearly of the label on each button.
  2. The whole transaction took 5 minutes or more. It varied depend on what they heated.
  3. When using the microwave oven, one first opened the door and put food in it on the glass salver. After closed the door, they looked at the control panel and choose function and set the stop timer. Then wave started to work and people often chatted with others. At the end, people took out food and closed the door.
  4. When the microwave oven was opened, it made sounds of spring and people felt the resistance.
  5. In general, except the waiting for the microwave to cook, choosing a right button/function took the longest.
  6. Putting the things in it cost less time than taking them out because they may need something to insulate the heat.
  7. Someone might have a hard time to find the right handle angle to open the door but it was still easy overall.
  8. The button on the control panel was touchable but not a digital screen. They were greasy and flat, one often used their nails to click, while others used their finger with a strong touch.
  9. When one was using it, after putting in the food, some people tended to heat directly, they were skillful users and never used an advanced heat function, they just set a timer and wait. The others read carefully what the function was said on the button, was it for defrozen? or was it for the beverage? or was it for the special weight of food? This procedure took the most of the time.
  10. The most interesting thing was, users always choose 0 or 30 as the timer number of seconds. So 0 and 3, these two buttons were used very often.
  11. When finished heating, a sound would be made to remind people the heating was done. This was the easiest part, everyone knew what a “ting” sound stood for.
  12. Some used a paper towel to take out their food.

I won’t consider the control panel as a good design nor a beautiful interface. The feeling of touch is weird too, such a short key travel. Some functions are never been used. It cost too much concentration to see the labels of each button and figure out what a button stand for. Most of the result came from this cognition process was useless. Moreover, they look not good, as the opposite of what Norman said, displeasing things work not good.

The judgment of users may be that I won’t use so many functions and I just want to heat my pasta. The point here is, the users know what will happen! They know the complex control panel will cost their too much concentration even they haven’t touched it! This judgment pass affect I think.

In my opinion, the affect here prevents the microwave oven to be interactive. There is definitely no interaction when one of the conversation wants to escape as soon as possible, though the other may have an ability to say, listen and think.
Interaction is something that needs one invest his emotion to others. Highlight “to others”, as the performance example of Crawford. It’s hard to define traditional theater performance as interaction. One reason maybe the performer cannot give feedback to audiences, the other reason is that the emotion of performer is invested to themselves and their roles.

 

ANALOG AND DIGITAL IO APPLICATION

INSPIRATION

I can’t believe that I built this simple stuff to help me quit smoking……

Greenlight-Stage A: the green light shows the device works well

Greenlight-Stage A: the green light shows the device works well

Flamered-Stage B: the red light and buzzer reflect that someone lights up a fire

Flamered-Stage B: the red light and buzzer reflect that someone lights up a fire

 

MATERIALS

Arduino, flame sensor, LED lights, buzzer, and wires

 

APPLICATION

When some flame light up, the red led and buzzer will work to remind people of the dangers of fire and smoking. The buzzer sounds like something goes wrong rather than something pleasing which will raise negative affect.