Beats Exposed: Project Updates

We’ve made some changes to the project since the ICM final presentation on Tuesday, which I wanted to make sure to note before making final documentation. We’ve updated the BOM to reflect the changes. It is available on Google Docs here. We may update a few more things in the next few days and we’ll make sure they are reflected in the doc.

First, we decided to nix the breath sensor for now. We were having trouble getting a reliable signal from the stretch sensor. We were picking up a ton of noise from the movement of the person wearing the sensor. We originally were working with a short piece of conductive stretch material. When we tried a longer one we had a better result, but still not usable. We came up with an idea to use two pieces each starting at the sternum and going around the sides of the rib cage and meeting at the spine. So, there would be two sensors, one reading each side of the rib cage. Then, our hope was to be able to look for identical movement in the two sensors to be able to separate the breath from body movement.

During our user testing in PComp class this week, we got feedback that suggested that we already had an effective project with just the pulse audio and visuals. Also, we decided that we would rather focus on fine tuning what we already have in the next week, rather than trying to continue to work on the breath. So, for now, we’ve put breath to the side. We may revisit it later if we continue to work on the project.

Second, we decided to add an audio response to the pulse back into the project. We had originally discussed using the sound of a heartbeat with the project, but got mixed feedback on the idea, and decided initially to work with visuals instead. After we got the visuals working, we decided again that we at least wanted to try adding a heartbeat sound to every beat transmitted. When we did it, we all agreed that we thought it was very effective.

Interestingly, our testers who listened to the sound had divergent reactions to the sound of the heartbeat played over headphones along with the visuals. We don’t yet understand why some find the sound unbearable, while others find it centering and calming. We will continue to refine the sound and user test to get a better understanding of this sensitivity.

Finally, the P5 sketch with visuals has been crashing my computer. I started having problems several weeks ago with P5 slowing down my computer significantly. About a week and a half ago, I started getting kernel panic when running the sketch. The other day it happened about seven times within two hours. It’s now near impossible for me to work on my P5 sketch on my computer. I’ve heard from two other people in my pcomp class who have said that P5 is freezing their computers. Although they didn’t specifically say they had kernel panic. I am able to work on my computer without problems otherwise. I’ve written to Sam Levine about the problem and hope to figure out what was going on soon!