Tuesday, February 9, 2010

At long last, the ideas!

I started thinking about my potential Interactive Exhibit Design projects after classes ended last semester. Right away I latched onto the idea of the problems of exhibiting oral history. I’ve always found that oral history exhibits and audio tours can make museum visits a very individual experience. Moreover, I have yet to find an audio guide that provides a seamless experience, most like the Metropolitan Museum of Arts WiFi mobile device formatted website require you to browse to the exhibit you’re interested in, enter an exhibit number, or plug a rented unit into a slot on the wall. My hope was to at least come up with a great idea for creating a seamless, group oral history experience. As yet I haven’t been able to come up with anything that I think could actually work, so I’ve moved on to a few more realistic projects. 
The first project that I want to complete after reading week (next week) is a google SketchUp model of a company house, probably from Glace Bay or New Waterford. It will depend on which I can find the most archival information on while I’m home in Nova Scotia for a few days and can visit NSARM. Worst case scenario I may be able to ask a friend of mine who is a volunteer firefighter in Glace Bay if he has access to the fire insurance plans. I’m mostly interested in this project because I want to learn how to use SketchUp as it is, from what I’ve heard, rapidly becoming an industry standard.
Another project I’ve been thinking about involves a gps enabled audio walking tour. I’d like to program an arduino with a gps shield and an attached mp3 player. The idea is to create a seamless audio tour based on the London Public Library’s Walking Guide to Historic Sites in London. I’ll need to learn arduino gps code and I’ll have to figure out how to connect an mp3 player to the arduino (if there isn’t already a shield for that I just haven’t found yet). I’d also like to eventually learn how to code for the iPhone or another smartphone to potentially make this a mobile app.
The final project I’d like to work on is the project that until recently I’ve been using to procrastinate on the rest of my projects. When we started playing with sensors in class I got it into my head that I’d like to design a wifi enabled sensor that would tell me when I need to fill my cats’ water dish. The project would involve a level sensor of some sort and a code that would, when the alarm on the sensor was tripped, email or tweet to let me know. For this project I’ll need to work with an arduino, a sensor, and a wifi shield. My father and I have talked about this project a bunch and we’ve got a pretty good idea of what sort of sensor I’d need, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.
Throughout all of this, I’m also considering doing some research probably on Nova Scotian labour/environmental history (perhaps the tar ponds and the Sydney Steel Plant) and I’d like to put together one or more podcasts with GarageBand. I very recently started playing with GarageBand making a ringtone and it was fun and relatively simple. I think it would  be really interesting to try recording and cutting together a podcast.
A final project I’ve considered and scrapped was a game that I wanted to eventually code for the iPhone. I scrapped the idea for two reasons, the first was that I wasn’t prepared to hand draw it or draw it in processing, the second, I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t adequately do the other ideas I had and I was much more interested in pursuing them.
I’ll post more details on the projects and where I am with them thus far as soon as possible. I’ll also be posting with more detail regarding some of the things we’ve done in class and some video we shot last week.

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