Foodglee- Marisa’s final semester project

I just completed my final studio project on teenagers and obesity. I started to accompany a series of posters that I created to educate teens about healthy choices and obesity in America. With the help of a QR code driving an audience to the site,  I want to encourage kids to make small changes in their daily life and highlight healthy versus unhealthy choices.

I am working with teenagers and partnering with local New York public schools to hang my posters and survey the kids about healthy foods and nutrition.  Specifically I chose to work with teens because they are at a critical juncture in their lives and I wanted to have a direct impact on them before they go off and make their own decisions without guidance from their parents.

I surveyed and talked to the 9th grade students while they were eating lunch at the Legacy School on 14th st between 5th and 6th Ave. I sat in on a 9th grade math class and shared my project with the class and several teachers. I then accompanied the students to their cafeteria and approached all the tables to get feedback about my topic. I interviewed an 11th grade student from the Eximius College Prep Academy and heard her thoughts about obesity, diabetes, and fitness in the USA. The school is in the Bronx, NY. It was fascinating to compare the 11th grader to 6th graders who told me that their school doesn’t talk about health and nutrition that much.

The information presented on was as a result of extensive research I completed. Over several weeks I talked to statisticians, dietitians, nutritionists, and read many articles about overweight kids written by key industry experts.

In the future i would like to hand out activity postcards showing kids ways to stay active. I would also like to illustrate good choices and alternatives in a visual postcard the kids can take home and show their families. In the meantime, I am waiting to hear back from Michelle Obama as I wrote her a letter a couple weeks ago seeking her support for In the letter I asked if she could mention my project on her Facebook page or page. I am patiently awaiting a response and I am hopeful.

Here is my final presentation in two parts because the file is so large. Presentation-Foodglee-Part1-OPT and Presentation-Foodglee-Part2-OPT and the FoodGlee-Final Paper

Happy Holidays!

Reading Response for Instruction Sets for Strangers (Public Space Project)

Experience Prototyping IDEO by Marion Buchenau and Jane Fulton Suri
I was really excited to read this study by IDEO because I’ve been interested in many of their innovative projects. Buchenau and Suri discuss three key points about prototyping, including understanding, exploring and communicating. They introduce the term “experience prototyping”, explaining that a prototype represents an idea before a final product. They examine ways to push beyond traditional methods, drive dynamic relationships, and allow users to experience it. Ultimately the reading illustrates how prototyping is an iterative process to make users remember, see, and understand. It is often best to explore by doing because through that process subtle differences are uncovered. As a result of these discoveries, a good design can turn into a great design. Elements to consider include context, social, and physical factors. The reading also discusses role playing and how through using it designers were given “permission to observe” (page 427). This is a key point because when we are allowed to evaluate a combination of ides we can then choose which direction to explore further. There are opportunities to test with a “tactile immersive experience, shared experience or full-body physical experience” (page 428).

The study address how it’s important to recognize that people can get really wrapped up in the experience and therefore fail to see the prototype’s limitations. I learned that low fidelity prototypes are great for conceptualizing and exploring what can be produced with a bit of imagination and creativity. I also was informed about how knowing your audience and setting expectations can help solve design problems. The process overall drives inspiration, affirmation, and presents challenges that need to be manipulated through skills and material usage. Knowing what to omit is figured out during the process through exploring many iterations.

Cardboard Computers by Pelle Ehn and Morton Kyng
Mocking-It-Up or Hands-On the Future
The article published in the New Media Reader addresses how the design process includes user testing through evaluation. It also explains how designers can ask for reactions and survey their users. I learned that “Participatory Design is an approach to the assessment, design, and development of technological and organizational systems”. As designers we are responsible for examining how a product can be enhanced, the functionality, and to examine various uses. The reading covers how a short movie or a slideshow can be used in the prototyping process. I was reminded that mock-ups and storyboard prototypes help present the range of possibilities and solidify solutions. Mock-ups are helpful for evaluating designs, coming up with new changes and modifying what is not working. What I thought was equally important was how designers can collaborate on decision-making in order to develop a final product.

William Whyte the Social Life of Small Urban Places, Chapters 1, 2, and 5
Whyte’s highlights some key elements about location. He draws attention to the idea of how designers can give thought to pedestrian flows, placement of steps, gardening, wind, sun, and trash cans. This reading was really helpful when I was working on the public space project (Teddy DT) for my major studio class because the flow of people was key to making my project successful. In his writing he explains how plazas with more sitting space naturally have more visitors. I learned that “Since 1961, New York City has been giving incentive bonuses to builders who provided plazas.” Whyte addresses how some sitting areas can be made unsittable with rocks or iron spikes. He also points out how some benches aren’t deep enough for two people to sit back to back; so designers should consider the width of the benches more carefully so that awkward interactions aren’t forced upon users. He states that a park should “stimulate impulse use”; I think this is a valid point and that if the park’s plans are executed well then the designer’s layout of the environment will naturally show-off as favorable by the public. Consideration of the various elements go a long way to create an inviting space. Uncluttered spaces and areas with steps tend to invite people to sit, sunbath, and picnic.  Outdoor cafes, fountains, public art, sidewalk vendors, and entertainment (music, theater, acrobats, mimes) help create repeat visitors.

Public Space Group Project: Teddy DT

I was asked to work with Vanessa Roa and Parinot Kunakornwong on prototyping anything we wanted in a public space. The goal of the project was to create and work towards something never seen before. For the project we decided to work in Washington Square Park in NY. We wanted to have a design intervention first and then let the technology follow. Over the duration of 6 weeks we observed the space and documented our findings. The process was challenging, frustrating, and at times disappointing. Our design intervention included a huge teddy bear that we wired to our computer through Bluetooth technology. We explored different areas of the park and chose to have the bear speak to people as they walked by. As a final presentation we created a slideshow explaining our ideas, iterations, and what we learned through the design process. At the end of the slideshow, there was a five minute movie of our prototypes. Above, you many view the video. To see our process please download the presentation that we delivered to our guest critiques, Melanie Crean and Scott Pobiner, faculty from MFA DT. What I learned from them was that if our group was to proceed further with the project than we should focus more on emphasizing fear versus cuteness. We could also work on avoiding a “Hello Elmo” toy which is smaller and more affordable. We learned that by placing the teddy bear alone on a public bench, we are giving individuals permission to steal it and can’t blame the homeless man for wanting it.

We chose to develop our project in Washington Square Park because it’s a  high traffic area where we expected to see many interactions across generations. On various occasions we observed young children and the elderly interacting and responding to the object with keen interest. We thoughtfully positioned the bear in between benches so that people were forced to walk by, rather then walk up to the bear. We learned that by placing the bear under the main arch way people were less prone to go out of their way to approach it. The busy park allowed us to observe a range of reactions and from what we observed we could then proceed to accommodate our observations over the weeks. We tested various sound effects ranging from show songs, like the Price Is Right, to cartoon babies crying, to bears growling, to famous quotes. It was a lot of fun playing with the audio, but it definitely came with challenges in terms of audio quality, and enhancing projection while still keeping the words understandable. If we were to continue this project we would like to have the bear have a fluid conversation with individuals. We tested this by having the bear say things like: “Hey there. I like your sneakers.” The bear also made non-political comments and talked about the weather. We also tested the audio with Text Reader which is a Mac program that reads aloud any text you write. It was not the best option for the project because it was hard to understand and had awkward pauses because it would get hung up on longer words.  In the end we opted to use Audacity and GarageBand to create solid audio files that would drive more excitement to the project.

Reading Response: Scrapyard Challenge

Interaction Relabeling and Extreme Characters:
Methods for Exploring Aesthetic Interactions
J.P. Djajadiningrat, W.W. Gaver, and J.W. Frens

This article discusses how interaction considers appearance, actions, and role. The notion of ease of use, efficiency, and “productivity over exploration and curiosity” is emphasized in the reading.  Interaction design works towards being aesthetically powerful. For example, a Swiss Army knife, is more like a gadget product because it is precise and complex, according to Djajadiningrat, Gaver, and Frens.  The reading also addresses the dangers of designing for “prototypical characters”; When this is done then we are ignoring the entire spectrum of human emotions because it only considering socially or culturally desirable things. When we design for characters that have embellished emotional attitudes than that is something to consider in the process. We have to keep in mind the importance of the choice of character. Designing for extreme characters exposes some emotions and characteristics which are hidden in certain cases.

Hertzian Tales 
Anthony Dunne

Hertzian Tales addresses how designers should consider to think broadly about aesthetics and specifically the role of electronic products in daily life. Industrial design potentially can enrich our daily lives and create social benefits. For example, AT&T has a patent for metal coating that changes color when a low voltage is sent through it. AT&T wants to use this novel technology to enable phones to change color instead of ringing. Hertzian Tales mentions how connecting different pieces and information results in interactive surfaces that are exciting.

The Design of Everyday Things 
Donald Norman

The user should not need a picture or instruction set to understand a design. If they do the design has failed. The reading talks about specialized objects like food utensils, scissors, clips, and various objects that people are expected to know how to use because of their knowledge about how things work everyday.  Normans suggests that a good conceptual model allows us to determine the effect of our actions. He also talks about how poor design causes unnecessary problems for the end user. He gives the example of a door and if it has to come with a one-word instruction manual than it is poorly designed and has ultimately failed. The push and pull bar on doors that is required by law in the US forces proper behavior when people are caught in dangerous situations and unable to think clearly in a fire. Norman also writes about the car radio and how the designers need to consider gloves, high speed, and touch tremendously to create something smart for the driver.  He goes on further to address visibility and feedback. Sounds help determine if things are working properly or if an item needs to be fixed. It can prevent accidents, yet we also have to be careful it does not annoy people and be a major distraction.

The Computer Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet 
Alan Kay

I found the term “infonaut” to be the most fascinated part of this article. An infonaut is a person who navigates the information superhighway. (Also known as an avid internet user.) Kay recognizes the patriarchs, pioneers, and infonauts, and hackers that have formed the computer revolution over generations.  Today technology is changing so fast that is is nearly impossible for people to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Why We Need Things
Mihaly Csikszcntmihalyi

Csikszcntmihalyi presents us with a statistic that every American will own more than 400 hundred electronic appliances during his/her lifetime. Today I sat in a lecture by his son Chris who’s student worked on appliances for females. For example, the student created a blender that when the female yelled it started working, but only upon certain tones. It was quite fascinating and funny. You can check it out in further detail here:

Mihaly explains that when people have nothing to do, the generally begin to become depressed and their moods overtime deteriorate. In general people that have objects with meaning in their homes that evoke friendship, family, and relationships feel less socially isolated. Objects increase our sense of security and reinforce a person’s opinion about themselves.

What do Prototypes Prototype?
Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill

Houde and Hill introduced the notion of prototype as a communication vehicle. They explained that prototypes represent changing states of designs overtime. They stressed the importance to explore possibilities and not settle on the first option. They also addressed how when thinking and communicating about design there are issues of teamwork. Audiences are vital to consider and engage with when prototyping. Some projects require teams built of a programmer, an interaction designer, an industrial designer, and a project manager. It is important as designer that we keep in mind a specific audience and potential users and test whatever we are creating on them in order to verify the products use before going into production. Throughout the prototyping creative process we can then balance and resolve constraints because ultimately the design should be coherent as Houde and Hill explain. The writers bring up the idea of low and high fidelity. Low-fidelity prototypes might be built to solve certain issues and to show a proof of concept new technology. Some important questions are asked in the article, including: “What role will it play in a users life? How should it look and feel? How should it be implemented?” Overall what I took out of the reading is that as a designer I need to build multiple prototypes. “Know my audience” and prepare my audience by clearly presenting the new prototype as what it is and is not.

Paula Scher’s Presentation on MAPS

Paula gave a talk about her life’s work at Parons on October 19 and I was happy to be at the event. This was my second time hearing Paula talk about her map project. I met Paula in Boston at an AIGA event about two years ago when she was working on her map paintings. In fact Paula has spent the last ten years painting maps. She recently released a book of her paintings. I was excited to hear her again because she has a great sense of humor and strong corporate graphic design skills. Her father helped design the technology that is now used by google earth maps. 

Marisa’s response to the IBM 100 THINK Exhibit

IBM 100 THINK Exhibit- Exclusive for Parsons MFADT

On Thursday October 20, 2011 I attended a fantastic interactive exhibit at Lincoln Center. I found the exhibit to be fascinating and informative about what we can do to improve the world. The exhibit focused on global issues like building more efficient airports, reducing water leakage, reducing crime, improving energy usage, establishing healthier rivers and strengthening our food supply. It also including reducing identity theft and traffic congestion in NYC. It was an esthetically beautiful exhibit. The graphics, sound, and interactions were well done and I highly recommend everyone go see it! I found it useful to see how the screen interaction functions are designed and it gave me some ideas for future projects.

I took a video of the exhibit’s interior on my iphone.

Below are a few photos:

Marisa’s experience at MobilityShifts Conference

Mobility Shifts
Hacking as Learning: A Slice of Mozilla Drumbeat

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 I attended a workshop put on by Mozilla. Turns out a recent graduate, Jessica Klein, from Parsons MFA Design and Technology helped orchestrate the conference. The workshop started with everyone in a circle following this video….How To Do The Robot (Totally Rad 80’s Dances)

Jessica presented a prototype for youth that is geared towards allowing kids to write their own web code; HTML and CSS. As a group we worked on giving feedback to her team at Mozilla about the current site, Jessica and her team are encouraging the community to help with the co-development and are seeking feedback to enhance the global project. She presented the “hackbook tool” which is moving towards “social persistence” so that two kids (friends) can work on the website at the same time. The program is similar to Firebug or Bolt but is unique because it is a kid friendly and simplified version. There is a cheat sheet for kids and homework lessons that can be given to students. is a good resource for people who are just starting their first site and want to collaborate with friends to edit it. You can check out her prototyping process on her FlickR page Jessica has an example of an interactive comic where the kids have to do something (a task) in order to progress through the panels on the comic. There are also assignments where the students are asked to fix webpages and dive into the code like in this sample. Finally Jessica came up with the idea to give peer mentor badges. Children are nominated by a friend and have to strive to improve their web browsing skills by working hard to earn it. These incentives are important when dealing with elementary school students.

Scrapyard Challenge 2011 Parsons DT

For the scrapyard challenge I teamed up with Peter Chang, I-Shan Naomi Lin, and Wen Ching to build a robot. Initially I made a robot that was about 12 inches tall, however it ended up being too heavy to move on the motorized ball. So we decided to cut the bottom of the robot and see if that would fix the problem. Unfortunately it was still too heavy to move so we cut a bit more and a bit more…. and yet it still weighed too much. As a result of this discovery in the process the team opted to create a smaller robot. We created a bride and groom and an aisle with an obstacle course. The grooms mission was to meet the bride and on his way he would come in contact with pillars of tin-foil. The area box was covered in tin-foil so it was conductive and the groom was wired so that every time he hit a wall or pillar a noise/music was made. Check out the Vimeo video of our final presentation and project. I compiled a video documenting the progress of my project and my peer’s work. You may view the video of our Scrapyard project on Vimeo. There is also an album on FlickR that captures our project from start to finish. View my FlickR album of Scrapyard Challenge 2011 Parsons DT

Scrapyard was a fun project and I ended up creating something fun from junk.

Maker Faire 2011

I went to the Maker Faire and met up with Jennifer, Shaan, Jason, and Rachel. Overall it was a fun experience and I saw some fascinating projects. The three projects that stood out most to me were the 3D printer, the water swing, and the METRO robot. I learned that the 3D printer prints line by line of plastic to make up the object. The 3D object is rendered on software like Maya (see the video I took on Vimeo for explanation). The printer costs about $1200-1300 and when a part breaks the machine can manufacture itself out of plastic. The METRO card robot and guy were an unexpected surprise in the Arduino tent. It was funny to see little kids interact with a robot their own size. (see video)

The water swing doesn’t get the kids wet when they swing directly under it.  However the water flows when the user is in the air away from the center of the swing. The tricky part is getting off with out getting soaked.

WATCH video of robot in action

The objects above were were made of plastic on the onsite 3D printer by MakerBot Industries.

Here is short video on my vimeo page I took while there. WATCH the 3D printer video 

Marisa’s Mashup-PlanMyDate NYC and 360 Safety

Marisa’s Mashup Presentation Download

For this project I was asked to create two mashups. The file above is a PDF download of my two ideas including PlanMyDate NYC and  360 Safety. The second mashup pairs up to hardware. The PDF is a mock up, step by step vision, and explains who is using my mashups. Take a look at my project to see my mashup results.