Sunday, 28 February 2010

Possible Logo...

Here is the logo/brand I have created for my viewer. The style has been mostly stolen from the Central Services logo from Brazil. I wanted it to look semi-futuristic, established & powerful, somewhat monopolistic. I wanted the name to sound British, so I used "United" from United Kingdom & "Networks" to make it internet based & 90's futuristic.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


Just finished watching Brazil, I was amazed by the amount of retro future objects & machines in it & the amount of detail to make the world seem real. The thing that appealed to my project the most was the fresh air kiosk, it just sums up the dystopian world in one object. I love the whole feel of the movie (especially the restaurant scene) , even though the story was quite hard to grasp first time! I need to incorporate some sort of humour into my project to make it seem more believable & approachable...


Here's the render of my unit exploded - it comprises of 19 components, not including the screen, Arduino board, PCB or potentionemters.

Friday, 26 February 2010


Some more evidence - I've mocked up a licence for premises to have the viewer & sell it's contents. It's pretty much the same as the weights & measures act for alcohol in pubs, but has been adapted for my story.

My Metal!

Yay! My aluminium rod & sheet steel have arrived, which means that I'm almost ready to build - just need to get the paperwork out of the way & make sure the design is perfect!

PCB Ready

I've just completed drawing my printed circuit board on the free software Fritzing. It's a very simple circuit - just a middleman between the Arduino board & the components to stop the wires from coming loose. I'll hopefully get the board made on the laser cutter soon, with the help from Mike...

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Some Ideas

To support my current(!) rationale, I have made some calling card ads to give an idea of the content it could be used for as it will be used similarly to a payphone. So far all of the content is based on entertainment, most quite crude (but this seems to reflect quite a large portion of the publicly accessed entertainment on the web, which makes me question whether we would be better off with most of the internet switched off!).

Render (Part III)

To make my viewer more intriguing & more professional, I have offset the eyepiece & made most of the features flush with the surface of the body. I am keeping the grey colour to make the viewer more public looking. I think it's almost ready for production - just waiting for the arrival of the metal.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


After speaking with my lecturers yesterday, they told me that the current content - viewing nature & untouched place - was not right for the object. As the form of the viewer is almost perfect, I am not going to change it for the content. I will change the content.

I'm taking quite a backwards approach to the process - fitting a story to the project rather than creating a product around the story, but by the time the viewer is made the story will be perfecto!

They suggested that I look into Digital Britain - the government scheme to get everybody online - but with a twist: in the future, since the majority of the net is free, the Digital Britain's economy has flat-lined & the government has taken the decision to shut down public access to the internet & to privatise the rest of it. This means that only the wealthy can access the web & creating a split in the public - the internet rich & the internet poor.

This is where my viewer comes in. To let the general public still have some little access to web content, my viewer would be public & used like a payphone. People would pay to see certain content similar to a public phone - sex lines, horoscopes, etc.

I still have to figure this out....

Finished Coin Mechanism

After finalising the dimensions of the coin mechanism, I made it out of wood - milling out the trench for the coin then gluing the three pieces together. After that I positioned my tactile switch, drilled the holes & screwed it on. Works a treat - here's the video to prove it!

Monday, 22 February 2010


My lecturer told me about a 70's Italian design group called Superstudio - they mainly focus on cities of the future, creating collages, illustrations & films. I really like the feel of their drawings - I'm thinking that I should have a go at drawing my future city...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

More Future Detail

To back up the argument I'm making, I've done some research:

Around the year 2040, the world population will reach nine billion & oil supplies will begin to dwindle. This will result in a huge overcrowding in cities & only really wealthy will be able to take holidays abroad & see the few remaining places "untouched" by man. With the rising cost of fuel, most people will have to use public transport - which currently is quite dirty & crowded (so imagine what it would be in 30 years time!). This overcrowding & the inability to get away would increase everybody's stress so any & every release from it would be welcomed.

Everytime I think about this, Mega City One (from Judge Dredd) keeps popping into my head - maybe I should use that as a template for a British one...

Render (Part II)

Here is a render of the viewer with a bit more detail. I have added a plate near the eyepiece for its name/slogan to be engraved on (not sure which yet), a surrounding for the LED & the lock for the coin box. It's starting to take shape, but I've still got so much more details to look at such as:

Inserting money instructions, logos, maintenance access, power, fonts, wall mounting, etc.

I like the colour in black, but I don't know if it looks a bit design wanky...

Render (Part I)

After constructing the basic viewer on solidworks, I decided to see what it would actually look like made with the correct materials - it looks good, but I'm not sure about the blue now...


Here is a render of the eyepiece - it will come in four parts: the main body, the screw body, the lens & the lens support. The main body of the viewer will fit between in the groove - this is where the body & the screw meet.

I know the render is a bit over the top, but I just wanted to see the power of solidworks in action!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Sheet Steel

After consulting engineering about making the viewer from sheet metal, they said that it can be done! I just need to provide the materials & technical drawings, then they can begin construction. I just need to finalise the design.

I was recommended that I should use 1.5mm thick, hot rolled sheet steel as it the strongest & easiest to work with.

I will also be using 3 inch round aluminium bar to make the eye piece & dials.


Hertzian Tales

With the rationale on the road to recovery, I found some more substance for it in the book 'Hertzian Tales' by Tony Dunne -

"...the designer to use his or her skills to visualise alternative future scenarios in ways that can be presented to the public, thus enabling democratic choices between the futures people actually want
all he or she can offer are the contents of his or her own head, where the internal imagination meets the external world of reality. Design is used as a strategy for linking these two worlds."

This is pretty much the foundations of my reasoning.


Sean managed to waggle some sheets of spare aluminium from the print making department - although they are thin & not very strong, it allows me to make a aesthetic prototype, just to see how the viewer will look like made of metal & how it will look sprayed up. Nice!

Insert Coin - Operational!

I made a quick rig to make sure that the coin mechanism works correctly... & it does! Here's a video of it an action.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Insert Coin

As the viewer will be used in common indoor public places, such as cafes, pubs, phoneboxes, etc. it will be coin operated. This is because other forms of relaxation/entertainment in these environments - food, drinks, gambling - don't come for free. This form of escape would be very lucrative in the future, when the majority of people will not have left a city in their whole lives & will want something new & not man made.

A bit ironic as they will be seeing something completely natural through an artificial eye.

Anyway, I have received a piece of code allowing me to simulate the inserting money experience.
All I need to do now is make the mechanism & collection container to carry this function out.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Future Props

After another lengthy discussion with two of my lecturers, I've discovered what I really want to do - creating props for possible futures & stories. I don't just want to make a product, I want to make a story around it. The product doesn't have to be commercially viable, but I want it to use it as a vehicle for the story, along with other, smaller props - to make it more believable.

The idea of the device so far is to use it as an escape from the dystopian world in the future, where everybody lives in ugly, utilitarian cities & don't have the ability to get away from it. The device would be situated in public places, such as cafes, pubs, teashops, etc. (the places could possibly need a licence to have the device)& would be coin operated.

The content would be of paradise - the perfect place, where the person will probably never get to see in real life, or will work their whole life for it. The person will get around 5-10mins for a pound.

The device blends the boundaries between public & private space, allowing the user to access very personal feelings & emotions in a public environment.

I will continue to build up a more detailed picture of the world, but this is only day one...

Where to go now...

After speaking with my lecturer about the reason for my product to exist & some feedback from the crit, he suggested that the user could actually be seated to use the device - this was due to me providing a chair for the lecturers to use as the device was too low to use standing. He also liked the juxtaposition of the old chair against the modern & industrial viewer.

I have been contemplating changing the project into an outdoor viewer for linking landscapes together, but this would change my entire device, from materials to form & I'm not too sure about doing that so late in the game.

My lecturer said that I should think about why I am doing it, what I want to get out of it & what type of designer I want to be.

Maybe I should look back at the Mass Observation Project, but not make it about obsessions, make it more of a tool in a future scenario for archiving daily life.

Something I Saw

While looking through the feeds on my viewer, I noticed on the Aruba feed that people were watching the webcam & trying to communicate with friends or family on the other end. This made me feel a bit awkward as I felt like I was eavesdropping, but there's not much privacy on the web anymore...

For some privacy, I have pixelated the peoples faces & messages, but you get the idea.

What Have I Done?!

I've created something that has no reason to exist yet!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Over Thinking It...

After the Play critique on Monday, I left feeling a little down. Although the lecturers said the prototype was really good & the interaction was compelling, the part that let me down was the rationale - I've been too busy concentrating on creating the technology & making it work that I've forgotten what I've made it for. I've tried to justify it by attempting to plow as much "meaning" into the project as possible (which I know consider to be a big pile of wank!) & totally lost track of what made me choose the idea in the first place.

I want to make a product that appeals to people's sense of curiosity, imagination, mystery & discovery, not for some half-arsed idea of spying for creeps! That was the whole point of the door with the pile of peepholes - to discover places they never thought existed, or couldn't afford to go & wonder where they are & stir their emotions. Essentially a window to the World.

During the crit, my lecturers told me that I should look into using the viewer as a type of public telescope - allowing anyone to use it to see other parts of the World. To add to this, Nat added that I could make the viewer location specific e.g. If the viewer was pointing towards the Tay Bridge, then all of the web feeds available would be of other Bridges across the Earth. This makes the content more appropriate as the user would be in the right mood & environment for watching other bridges.
This could be applied to any subject - skyscrapers, beaches, monuments, mountain tops, streets, countrysides - anywhere that evokes an emotion.

Just need to develop it now...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Observer Prototype

The final form will be cylindrical, but to make construction easier I made the body octagonal. It is just to show the size of the object.

Friday, 5 February 2010


Product Render

Looks very graphic novel-esque, but I like it!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Quick Interaction

Just a couple of photos showing my classmate using the unit. The real product would be positioned higher on the wall - the piece of wood I had available limited the height.

Getting It On (Part IV)

Here are the photos for the (almost) finished final prototype of the observation unit. I laser cut some details to make the whole design a little bit more convincing.

Chain Pen Switch Fail

After playing around with lifting the pen to activate the unit, I realised that it made the whole experience of using the unit, very clunky. The user would have to try to turn the dials while having both hands full - one with the pen (to keep the unit on) & one with the notebook.

In summary, I think I'll just stick with the pen simply hanging & a toggle switch to turn off & on the unit.

Getting It On (Part III)

After building a more accurate housing & constantly tweaking the height of the screen, I screwed on the Arduino board & bread board to make the whole setup more secure. The next step is to make a more accurate frame - Peep Rig Mk. VI

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Chain Pen

As I was thinking about the current interaction of switching on the unit with a simple switch, I decided it was too boring & predictable. In a couple of earlier form sketches, I included a chain pen hanging from the base of the viewer. As the project is centred around people who compulsively record everything they see, I thought I could exaggerate this by turning on the unit when the pen is picked up, forcing the user to hold the pen while they observe. I can make this happen by using a microswitch with a long lever connected to the end of the chain.

Just waiting to get the components through the mail...

Monday, 1 February 2010

Getting It On (Part II)

The next step was to check if the screen & housing could be mounted to a wall. I drilled out another two holes in the housing to fix it to my "wall" (which happens to be just another bigger bit of wood).

The results were great! The two screws held the housing safely & securely. Now to build a better housing...

Getting It On (The Wall)!

After creating an initial working (albeit crude) model, I have began to mount the system on a wall. First of all I had to check that I could get the screen to stay fixed to a vertical surface safely. Luckily, a portion of the screen had screw holes that could be taken advantage of.

I went down to the workshop (for the first time in about nine months) & started work on cutting & drilling screw holes into a piece of wood. After that I mounted the screen - as I was a bit rusty on the machinery, the finished product was a bit squint, but it confirmed that the set-up was safe.