Author Archives: Anna Schmidt

“I Miss You” Exorcism Teddy Bear

For our final project we initially wanted to make a phone case that would alert a third party if the user was in danger and unable to text.  However, we realized that this information wouldn’t be particularly useful unless the recipient was given a way to act on the information; we thought that having the button press on the phone case send the GPS coordinates of its location would be a good solution, but we didn’t feel that that was a reasonable goal given our experience.

Our next idea was to pitch the same basic messaging system a a means of communication for parents and children who are too young to use cell phones but whose parents would want to hear from them throughout the day.  After many iterations of this design, we settled on a teddy bear that would, when squeezed or hugged, send a message to the parent’s computer saying “I miss you” along with an audio file to get the parent’s attention if they are away from their computer.  When the parent clicks the window, an LED lights up in the bear to show the child that their parent has received their message.  Somewhere between inadvertently settling on red and black as a color scheme for the bear and having a little too much fun mixing the audio file, however, we seemed to have taken a turn for the satanic but decided to run with it in the name of memorability.

The benefits of teamwork: saving time and combining efforts.  Anna is responsible for the teddy-bear design, embedding the Arduino, figuring out the circuit schematic, working on the basics of the coding, and building a prototype; Sam then built a second prototype using a smaller breadboard, added to, refined, and debugged the code, and added the audio file.  Both of us spent a considerable amount of time working together to ensure that the Arduino was embedded properly and the teddy was working consistently.



Computational Media

When I switched into the Interactive Media Arts major last semester, I did so mainly out of a desire to challenge myself to do something that I was scared to do.   I made the change because of the rather limited majors offered at NYU Shanghai, IMA aligned most closely with my personal interests and career goals. I had essentially no experience in IMA, but felt confident that with hard work and perseverance, etc., etc., I could do whatever I put my mind to.  However, as I became better acquainted with the program, I realized that it was vastly different from what I had expected.  To the naive or perhaps simply un-informed me, Interactive Media Arts meant collaboration (interaction), working with different mediums (media), and doing so creatively (art).  To the me who was struggling to construct simply circuits while my classmates made dolls that laughed when you tickled them and fabric flowers that “bloomed”, IMA was reduced to one thing: computers.

Since then I have really come to appreciate the incorporation of technology in art, but I wouldn’t really say that I’m a computational media convert.  That isn’t to say that I’m against it by any means, but rather that I don’t see the need to distinguish it in such painstaking terms from “traditional” media.  Reading Manovich’s essay, I can really appreciate his work from an theoretical and anthropological (maybe not the right word– media-logical?) standpoint, but I don’t know how useful it is in practice.  I think that one of the beautiful things about media is its malleability and the ways in which people adapt it to suit their needs.  Rather than people conforming to the limitations of media, I think the media is generally adapted to the needs of people and as such, I think that the best approach to it is open-ended.

Computational media is, I believe, essential to the modern lifestyle and integral in our society.  From mass media to contemporary art to architecture, computational media allows us to innovate existing disciplines and markets and to expand into ones that didn’t previously exist.  In light of this sort of integration of computational media with other disciplines, I don’t think it makes sense to study or practice computational media in a vacuum or to even try to give it a strict definition.  It seems clear to me that computational media will continue to adapt and re-invent itself, perhaps until it becomes a new field entirely.  To me, rather than distinct camps of “old” and “new” media, computational media falls more into an evolutionary spectrum of media; it is at once its own “species” (so to speak) as well as an intermediate form bridging the media of yesteryear and the media of tomorrow.

“Mixed Signals” Panic Button

For this assignment I tried to make my Arduino communicate with processing to create a panic button.  My idea was that when the FSR was pressed, the program running in processing would change from displaying “Keep Calm and Carry On” to displaying “PANIC”, but I ran into some issues (namely the screen flashes frenetically between the two messages until the FSR is pressed, at which point it reads, “PANIC”).Panic Button

Panic Button


Sam and Anna’s Human Bubble Game

For our video manipulation we borrowed Echo’s code from her bubble game (thank you!!) and modified it to use color tracking to turn the player’s hand into the “catcher”.  We also added an “end game” function and tried to add a timer in the beginning to allow time for the color/pixel selection at the beginning of the game, but weren’t able to get the timer to work.



Bubble Art

For this assignment, I tried to make an art piece in which the bubbles float behind a for-loop grid of black circles but are only visible in the first and third quadrant of the image.  At first I had written the for-loops that created the circle grid under the update function in the class Bubble, which left one errant bubble floating on its own over top of the grid. I named him Spunky (pictured below).


However, after some help from Scott, I was able to domesticate Spunky and get him back behind the grid by writing the for loops just after void draw.





For this assignment I drew on elements from the coding we did in class and code I found online to create my animation.  It went through multiple iterations and tweaks before reaching this stage, and I feel like the process of experimenting helped my overall comfort level with these skills.

I incorporated an animated background superimposed with an ellipse that follows the mouse with the slow in/slow out and the secondary action of variations in size as it moves.  In addition, the ellipses in the background overlap and continually “grow” as the program runs, which adds to the sense of dimension and dynamics. Hopefully.



Selfie Portrait

First off: I know that given the hyper-realism of this picture you may be inclined to think I cheated and simply uploaded a photograph. I did not.

Self Portrait

I chose to take a geometric approach and fashion my likeness out of shapes, lines, and points.  On the plus side this gave me a lot of much-needed practice coding and arranging shapes in Processing, but on the down side I found that my inexperience meant that the final product was a little clumsy and lacking detail.  Overall though, I found this assignment to be pretty therapeutic and rewarding. I also have a new activity for long plane rides.


Sam and Anna’s Lousy Fortune Teller

For our stupid pet trick we were inspired by the “Love-O-Meter” (and the paper fortune tellers we made in elementary school– see below) and chose to create a fortune teller using a servo motor and an FSR.


We used the Servo library to find a code to work with initially, and then modified it to suit our project.  The micro servo motor, without interference of the FSR, goes through its cycle ranging from 0 degrees to ~180. Once you touch the FSR, our motor will “answer your questions”. It’s answer from your touch is limited to “try again”, “no”, and “maybe”. The reason that the servo takes a bit to respond to the FSR reading is because it must finish its current cycle due to the delays in the code. We’re unsure how to code such that the servo passively switches states but is immediately interrupted when the FSR is touched.

Our stupid pet trick, or lousy fortune teller machine, will only respond to your touch with negative answers. Enjoy!


Sam and Anna: Laptop Temp Meter

For this assignment we decided to repurpose the Love-O-Meter so that it would act as a sensor to tell a user when their laptop is overheating.  We swapped out all red LEDs for a blue, a yellow, and a red to show a progression from cool/room temperature (blue) to heated (yellow) to overheating (red) to alert the user when their laptop begins to overheat.  Since neither of our laptops were overheating, for the purposes of demo-ing it we programmed it so that smaller intervals of heat from our fingers would trigger the LEDs.  For actual use on computers we would keep the baseline at around 20C, but make it intervals of temperature increase needed to trigger an LED much greater since human body temperature is around 38C and an overheating computer is upwards of 160C.