Taking shape

The latest version of Space Rock #4, sanded and with the circuit board and powerbank holder printed for inside. Also shown is a version of Space Rock #1 printed in sections at 280mm wide, and coated with XTC 3D as a test as this print has lots of flaws – not least because the filament snapped just before finishing printing the front section, so I had to do a patch repair. Interesting to see how smooth this sands down.

This week’s (or month’s) research – 11/07/18

Not done one of these for a while, but thought it would be useful to round-up some of the research I have been carrying out over the past few weeks.

Firstly, am looking at the work of Forensic Architecture, exploring their use of design as a process of archeology.

Exploring the language of objects and existing archetypes, reading Don Norman’s Emotional Design. I am investigating techniques to undermine or subvert the communication of messages by objects.

On the tech front, I am now looking into using the XBee RSSI (Received signal strength indicator) to produce the interactions between the four Space Rocks, using the distance and relative strength of the signal to change the light (colour / intensity) and sound parameters as the objects’ proximity to each other changes. See also Reading XBee RSSI with Arduino. I also need to dig out my copy of Making Things Talk.

Also looking into the concepts of:

  • Pattern recognitionHumans Are the World’s Best Pattern-Recognition Machines, But for How Long?
  • The overview effect –  refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative.
  • Bicameralism – the condition of being divided into “two-chambers” is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human mind once operated in a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking”, and a second part which listens and obeys — a bicameral mind.

Attended an interesting talk at Futurefest, Speaking with Aliens. Triggered some very interesting ideas around communicating with extra-terrestrial life away from Earth with Clara Sousa-Silva (a Quantum Astrochemist at MIT tasked with finding alien life on a molecular level) and Jill A. Stuart (Space Law expert and director at METI international, working on different scenarios for encounters with intelligent life). I was most interested in Clara Sousa-Silva’s mentions of trying to communicate with light, as this can be seen everywhere, and white light can be split into infinite colours via a prism (for example). She also mentioned maths as a communication tool, but this seems too tied to human communication to fit the concept of a universal language. She also mentioned studying inter-species communication on Earth to inform communications with aliens.  The panel also discussed the idea of the Dark Forest, suggesting that perhaps we should not try to communicate with aliens at all.

This has also led me to researching Danielle Wood, Director of Space Enabled and the idea of space that has not been colonised by entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and business interests. This also reminded me of this article in the Guardian discussing attempts to map underground spaces,  which are generally less regulated than the space above ground.

Getting the Space Rocks to talk to each other

Configuring the XBees.

Am using the Digi XBee wireless connectivity kit to allow the Space Rocks to communicate with each other. Following the tutorials on Sparkfun, I have managed to get them talking via X-CTU. Which is a good start.

XBee 1 talking
XBee 1 talking
XBee 2 talking
XBee 2 talking

 

And these two are also now communicating with each other.

XBee communicating with Arduino shield
XBee communicating with Arduino shield

And inside the plastic shells, at a distance of about 5 feet apart.