Linear vs. non linear experiences by Priyanka Kodikal

The making of music and how it is experienced

A retrospective on making music using Ableton Live, synthesisers and the ableton launchpad.

For years I perceived the making of music to be a linear process, where the artist would compose a song based on how it progresses. Each note complimenting the next, bringing about a comprehensive composition that unfolds like a story. However, only after hanging out with my musician friends did I start to learn about the intricacies and complexity of music making.

There are many ways of making music, but what interests me most is how specific DJs prepare their midi compositions only to shuffle and play them live later as a comprehensive track. Yes, DJs are musicians too, a long argument many people like to have, and there are many DJs who make their own music. Yes, DJs make sounds with a computer so stop comparing them to Beethoven. If you think DJs are weird, try sound artists like John Cage. Playing live DJ sets are very interesting because the DJ mixes together snippets of midi sounds like a chef puts together a dish with different ingredients that have been prepared. Let me explain this by comparing a live DJ set to a live violin player. A violin player plays a composition from a book that follows a linear format. This format has been composed in a way that it unfolds like a story, it has a timeline. A live DJ set on the other hand is a mix of individual midi tracks played live as one composition. The elements are separate on Ableton Live, and then they are played together with synthesisers and ableton live launchpads. This allows for flexibility while playing the track. The listening experience is linear but the creation of the music is non-linear.   

Let´s compare this to watching a movie. Most movies have a chronological order that they follow with time, "Once upon a time" and "happily ever after". However, a movie like Memento challenged this order, thus creating a whole new viewing experience. The audience was taken through a non-linear storytelling format where they had to piece together the story at the end. 

As an experience designer, this is quite interesting as it unfolds different ways of storytelling, composition and ways of experiencing media. It puts emphasis on editing rather than chronology. It removes the mundane and creates poetry from random patterns. The non-linearity of ableton live vs. the linearity of garage band. That´s the music making I´m taking about. When the timeline is broken into parts, there is flexibility at play. 

Prototyping with VR by Priyanka Kodikal

2016: Winter was coming and I began to feel that itch to find a good indoor hobby project. Besides the multiple trials of learning Norwegian and playing music, I realised I wanted to make something. Coming from a industrial design background, I pondered over the future of product designers and wondered what would happen to them in this digital evolution. That´s when I realised that maybe it was time for me to learn more about the virtual world.

Although the topic of VR is very new to me and I find it a bit intimidating, I realised it is still in it´s infancy and there is a connection between the physical and digital world from a very fundamental level. I have been working with 2D design as an interaction designer and I had studied 3D in school. However, there was something more to understand beyond the 3D world of VR. 

I began a course on VR made by some good folks from Google and discovered that for product designers who became interaction designers, we just needed to think one step further than 3D and animation. The course was based on Unity.3D and learning C# or .JS, both of which I have only dabbled with before. However, once I got the basic setup right, it´s not much different to other 3D programs. I have done 3D animations before and almost burned my Mac´s CPU. 

Few days into the course, and now we are talking math. Here comes the big fuzzy monster that lives under my bed! Learning about quaternions (Quarter-Onions?) and revisiting matrices was fun, especially since I learned it in school but never understood what it was used for until now. However, this slowed down my process of building in VR. To speed up the process I began to look for resources and tools for building in VR and came across some good examples like Artefact´s Storyboard VR, NYT´s VR stories and Facebook´s VR resources! My hope is to find or build a simple toolkit that can help beginners like me to quickly prototype in VR for design projects. Whether it is a new car interior for a automotive company or spacecraft to mars. How can we use VR not only as an immerse storytelling telling, but a prototyping tool to understand what emotive experiences we could create with it.

Through my rough VR sketches, I could see my friends squeal and twirl while boxes fell from the sky in their Unity landscape. What we experience in VR is much more influencing and convincing than what we see on a screen. On a screen, we are a separate entity judging content from afar. In VR, we are part of it. 

Connected Libraries by Priyanka Kodikal

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Frå Mig Til Dig: How might we encourage public trust and engage the visitors of the library to share personal knowledge and stories? Fra mig til dig (from me to you) is a service organized and facilitated by the Copenhagen Main Library. It allows patrons to give and receive personal inspiration at varying levels of engagement.

During our research process – involving interviews, experiments and observations – we identified opportunities for the Copenhagen Main Library to engage with patrons in more meaningful ways. We discovered that most library visitors welcomed the idea of knowledge sharing and displayed curiosity towards the opinions and recommendations of other library visitors. Other insights discuss the idea of the future library setting being that of an open organisation, one capable of keeping the pulse of the local community.

Fra mig til dig, a visitor-to-visitor recommendation system, was designed as an installation where people could review postings and leave their mark through handwritten notes. All contributions are made in the library where visitors can read, submit, and even comment by writing directly on another visitors note. Library staff are responsible for the collection and analysis of visitor recommendations, allowing the library to know about local trends and the opinions and tastes of the patrons.

If a recommended book, film or album is part of the library’s collection, it will automatically appear as part of the library staff’s existing collection routine each morning. The staff place the corresponding recommendation note in the book or on the DVD case and place the item on the Fra mig til dig display. Eventually the locally recommended items will return to the main library shelves where the recommendation can be read by other library patrons.

Our process was quick and rigorous where we built paper prototypes, enacted as human prototypes and built digital prototypes on the go. We made physical prototypes that reflected information from Amazon.com and other online book stores inside the library so that the visitors could get a diverse range of information about the books within the library. We also involved the music section to encourage strangers to jam together and built conversation starters for those having coffee at the cafe. We got tremendous response from the people visiting the library and we stirred conversations between strangers. 

Our final outcome was a website and physical layout of personal interactions library visitors could have among each other when visiting the library. The final presentation was done at the town hall of Copenhagen for the Mayor, to convince him about the need for services that encourage trust and connectedness in the library. The final outcome was to make young people more aware of the library facilities providing them with various opportunity spaces, like a hacker lab, maker space, music space and to encourage knowledge sharing between different age groups. This service also aimed at helping unemployed immigrants learn more and involved elderly volunteers to contribute to the library.

Rock Box by Priyanka Kodikal

Helping the elderly communicate with their family far away using fun and playful gestures through wireless communication. Meet the Rock:Box time planner using rocking gestures to indicate availability for meetings.

Staying in touch is one of the most fundamental elements of maintaining long distance relationships, no matter if it’s between families, lovers or friends. The RockBox team conducted user research and a series of interviews, revealing that people, especially the elderly, desired to be involved with what their loved ones were doing when they were far away. Living apart across different time zones or even different cities, contributes to the problem of arranging a suitable time to meet via online media, phone calls, or even for travel plans. 

RockBox is a fun and playful tangible time planner that was created to negotiate and plan time between people living apart in different time zones. It is an experimental gestural interface that aims to replace your grandfather's cuckoo clock at home. 

RockBox is designed as twin products residing on two sides of the world. Take a grandfather and granddaughter’s case as a scenario, with both sides of them owning a RockBox. These two products synchronize and update their arranged meeting time according to the time zone where they are. For example, while the grandfather living in Copenhagen proposes an online chat at 8pm today, the granddaughter studying in Tokyo receives the meeting time as 3am tomorrow. Both of them are also hinted with what the time will be for the other one in order to plan their meeting time better.

By integrating the time zones in the time planner, the updates and alerts communicated between each box is synchronised accordingly so that you never miss out on a meeting. Each box has a set of three gestures by which one person can quickly communicate to the other person with a yes, no and maybe tangible interface. For example, if my grandfather asked me to meet at 2.00pm on Saturday and I had a dance class to attend, I could simple reply by shaking the box in the no Gesture. If I was available to meet, I could press the box down in the yes gesture and if I wasn't sure about my availability, I could shake the box in the maybe gesture. This would then reset the time.

The RockBox form resembles my grandfather's rocking chair. It's motor memory has three significant gestures: yes, no and maybe; through which you can communicate between the Rockboxes. The Rockbox communicate via the Wifi network and the gesture movements are controlled by an inbuilt motor. The communication signals pass through the Wifi network to control the motor within the box, resulting in one box to imitate the other.

RockBox successfully creates a playful way of negotiating meeting time and provides a tangible and interactive physical presence of the loved one in the other side of the world, by which pulls both sides of the couples, families or closed friends even closer together.

Dot dot line by Priyanka Kodikal

Programming for multi-touch interactions: A simple android game where you draw lines to nudge the bouncing ball into the hole.

DotDotLine is an interactive game app made for android. Inspired by the 1970s arcade game Snake, it's a simple game where the player has to guide the ball towards the hole by drawing lines before it rolls out of the screen. Too many lines would make a web in which the ball can get caught in, so the player has to make sure there are just enough lines drawn to guide the ball towards the hole. To restart the game the player has to shake the tablet.

Sculptures of photographic memories by Priyanka Kodikal

Sculptures of Photographic Memories (SoPM) is a data sculpture that captures photographic memories into an artefact for data immortality.

How might we give the data in digital photographs a sculptural form? Much like creating a unique souvenir of the place that those photographs represent and storing it into a sculpture. Would this be the future of data immortality and storage? Where objects and sculptures around us could hold the secrets to hidden events? 

This generative design project looked at the concept of “memory” and how photographic data that is derived from a place or environment can be stored as a tangible artefact. Each picture was taken with an android device and was then converted into a data structure via processing that we laser cut into shape. Hence each physical piece of the sculpture stored a certain picture's data within it physically.

We pursued two directions and ended up with two unique sculptural objects.The first sculpture was a tower of chronologically stacked histogram plates cut out from acrylic. These were derived by running the images through a Processing sketch and generating laser-cut-ready vector patterns. An entire experience can be captured with photographs and can be converted directly into this sculpture via the processing sketch.

The second approach was inspired by some of the odd behaviours of old analog photographs sticking to each other and leaving a trace. We made some explorations by virtually stacking digital images in Processing and writing a few rules to eliminate pixels of photo base on which image is on top of it. The resulting pixel pattern was magnified and laser etched to create interesting perforated patterns which when put together revealed the original photo. This project was chosen to be exhibited in Makerfaire Rome where we took photographs of the tourists and printed samples of the light sculpture.

Saf by Priyanka Kodikal

A toothbrush for patients with Parkinson Disease and poor motor skills.

sad (Hindi) = clean

Saf is an oral hygiene product for ageing people with poor motor skills and Parkinson's disease. It is for those who are unable to brush their teeth independently and need to adapt to a motorised toothbrush that cancels out their hand vibrations for a better and steadier grip. It comes with special toothpaste balls to put into the extraction tube so that toothpaste doesn't spill over and extrudes only while brushing. This product concept was designed and conceptualised after a series of interviews with elderly people suffering with poor motor skills. 

Many elderly people today seek to live independent lives, but with a muscular disease like Parkinson's it often becomes hard not to depend on others and sometimes even embarrassing to perform simple everyday tasks. 

This project focused more on the business side of developing and bringing new ideas like Saf into the market. Saf is sold with a promotional dental check-up, online community support and additional products that will help the patients and elderly learn to become more independent.

The business plan also encouraged a doctors check up, where they can see if the patient's use of the toothbrush is improving over time.

Prototyping the future by Priyanka Kodikal

Prototyping for gaming techniques, processing and Kinect based interactive installations.

During a workshop called prototyping the future, I got the chance to work with HUMLabs, an internationally established platform for the digital humanities and new media. As part of the workshop our team built an interactive Kinect installation that helps you make random word poems on the wall. The concept of the installation was inspired by the classic word fridge magnets. The random words were controlled using gestures resulting in a dance form that would create the poems on the wall. 

We built mock-ups with arduino, explored the gaming world, and created an interactive installation by using the Kinect and an open source processing software called Faast. This installation was presented at the end of the workshop. My role was to generate ideas and help in the implementation of the installation using Kinect and Faast.

 

Governmental Architecture by Priyanka Kodikal

The influence of architecture and spacial hierarchy on day to day productivity within an organisation.

This information design project done in collaboration with the regional government in Umeå, Region Västerbotten, aimed at visualising the organisations office structure and analysing it's influence on the employees' day-to-day productivity. From this we learned that offices are like the brains of an organisation. If the architectural space is organised appropriately then the organisation will be more productive. 

This project was presented to the government of Umeå and showcased in the Bildmuseet (museum) in Umeå, Sweden.