Final Project Journal

As my final project for this class, I would like to investigate the relationship experienced in people, between music and their experience with the outside world. As music is such an important part of my life, undeniably affecting my day-to-day experience, I want to investigate if music affects other people’s lives, even if subconsciously.

My experiment is simple. I will find several volunteers, six to be exact, and take them to our campus here at CU Boulder. Then, I will give them a pair of Bluetooth headphones, as high quality as I have available to me, and instruct that particular participant to walk around the campus listening to a set of songs, or playlist, of their choice. Given that they are equipped with Bluetooth headphones, I will take the audio device paired to the headphones, and stay as far away from the participant as possible, while still maintaining Bluetooth connectivity.

Side note, my phone has the ability to output audio to two different devices simultaneously, allowing me to experience the same music experience as the participant, and keep the volume withing safe listening levels.

So this participant will wander through campus listening to their song of choice, while I creepily follow them and control their listening experience through my audio player. Unbeknownst to them, I will be adjusting their volume based on one specific condition: their proximity to others around them. CU Boulder’s campus provides a perfect setting for this experiment, as there exist strong fluctuations in people-per-space in different areas on campus. I figure this is a good condition to explore because from the participant’s perspective, they will have no idea why their volume would be fluctuating, and their reactions to the adjusting volume would be genuine.

The reason I chose six participants is due to the fact that I will split them up into two distinct groups, with three participants each. These two groups will be held identical in every way possible, except that for the first group I will decrease their volume as they approach others, and for the second group I will increase their volume as they approach others.

After about a 15 minute walk with each participant, I will emerge from whatever bush I happen to be hiding in, and touch base with that participant about their experience. I will ask them three questions:

  1. How was your walk? Did you enjoy walking around campus with music, as opposed to without?
  2. Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?
  3. Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Based on their responses, and the overall path of their walk, I can observe any trends between my volume adjustment, and their walking experience. Do they tend to walk in a straight line, or do they make sudden turns? Do they walk nearer/further from others around them, in order to boost/reduce their volume? Is there any correlation between time of volume adjustment, and changes in their walking path? Do their responses coincide/contradict their walking tendencies?

As far as documentation, I will be sure to record the volume of the music at every point during the study, including any and all volume adjustments I make. I will also document their path as they walk across the campus, taking careful note of areas of high and low people-density. I will also take careful note of their response, making clear their responses’ correlation with my own recorded data.

If my participants are anything like me and enjoy their music as loud as possible, I predict that 15 minutes is long enough for the participant to grasp the fact that I am changing their volume for a particular reason, and though they might not know the reason, they would try to head towards a higher volume level. This relationship could also be inverted, as some people do not enjoy loud volumes, and begin searching for a way to lower their volume. It is not unlikely, however, that some participants will actually understand that their volume is directly related to their proximity to others; I am interested in seeing how this realization affects their walking path.

This experiment provides a sufficient way to expose people’s hidden relationships with their music, and their conscious/subconscious decisions to take a certain path across campus. If I were to test this idea in the future, given the time to refine and improve it, I would see how music would affect a person’s performance in other tasks – including, but not limited to: cooking, cleaning, working out, relaxing, doing homework, driving, etc. Do people react a certain way to their music in any of these activities? Would a certain participant perform any differently at something, given their constantly altered music experience? Using data from this study, I hope to explore these avenues and find possible trends/tendencies across an even larger sample size of participants.

Time spent at this point: 2.5 hours

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Experiment Day!

The following documentation will be regarding any information taken the day of experimentation. Group A consists of those volunteers subject to higher volume as they approach others, while Group B consists of volunteers subject to lower volume as they approach others. All participants were randomly chosen to be in their respective groups.

Participant #1: Ethan Albro – Group A

Ethan is a student and a good friend of mine here at CU. I’ve chosen Ethan as a good candidate for this experiment as he is an avid music listener; rarely will I see him wandering campus without his earbuds. With this already constructed relationship involving music and his perception of life, his results should prove adequate insight into his experience.

Songs chosen:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

Interview:

-How was your walk?

-Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?

-Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Path Walked/Data Collected:

 

 

 

Participant #2: Abhi Sahariah – Group A

Abhi is also a student here at CU, but he was my first and only roommate freshman year. I’ve chosen Abhi as a good candidate from this experiment because he consistently astounds me with how loud he likes his music – whenever he listens to music, he turns it up as loud as possible, and self-identifies as a ‘volume fiend’. I am interested to see how this hunger for loud audio plays into this experiment and his reactions to the volume knob being in someone else’s hands.

Songs chosen:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

Interview:

-How was your walk?

-Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?

-Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Path Walked/Data Collected:

 

 

Participant #3: Laurel Bloszies- Group A

Laurel is also a student here at CU, but our friendship started in high school. Back in high school, she was known for having an extremely wide-spread music preference – she does not restrict her music tastes to a single genre or aesthetic. This makes her a good candidate for this experiment because the variety in the songs she chooses to listen to might play an additional role in her experience.

Songs chosen:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

Interview:

-How was your walk?

-Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?

-Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Path Walked/Data Collected:

 

 

Participant #4: Damian Njuguna – Group B

Damian is also a student here at CU, and is my current roommate. I’ve chosen Damian as a worthy candidate for this experiment because, unlike Abhi (Participant #2), Damian enjoys his music quiet. In his words, music should be “easy to listen to”, and music that is too loud or aggressive in any respect is not pleasurable to him. I am interested in seeing how this attribute plays into his results from this experiment, as well as how his results compare/contrast with Abhi’s.

Songs chosen:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

Interview:

-How was your walk?

-Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?

-Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Path Walked/Data Collected:

Participant #5: Chris Jillson – Group B

Chris is also a student here at CU, musician, and a self-proclaimed audiophile. This means that when he listens to music, he takes every aspect of the experience seriously. With his finely-tuned ears, he seems to be the most likely to be affected by any changes I make to his listening experience, which I find to be an interesting attribute to explore in this experiment.

Songs chosen:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

Interview:

-How was your walk?

-Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?

-Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Path Walked/Data Collected:

Participant #6: Kenzo Horiuchi – Group B

Kenzo is also a student here at CU, but his participation in this experiment came with one interesting condition – he requested to perform the ‘walk’ on a longboard. Given that both he and I are fairly competent at riding longboards, I agreed to conduct this particular trial on wheels with him. On longboards, the pace of the ‘walk’ will be increased dramatically, but with this increase in speed, I predict his path will be a lot more straightforward, featuring wider/fewer turns than the other five participants. This makes Kenzo a sort of a wildcard for this experiment, and hopefully this will lead to different, yet just as meaningful, tendencies in traversing the campus in response to the music.

Songs chosen:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

Interview:

-How was your walk?

-Is there any particular reason you followed the path that you did? Given the opportunity to do this again, would you follow the same path?

-Do you know why I was adjusting your volume? Why do you think your volume was changed during your walk?

Path Walked/Data Collected:

 

Time spent up to this point: 6.5 hours

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Final Project Proposal

  1. The question I would like to study is: What attributes of music do we care about, and how does different music affect perception of the quality of the music.
  2. My idea is simple: I will create a simple form, possibly even a google form, that consists of 20-30 different song samples, spanning all genres and moods. Then, beneath the sample, it will have the option to rate that sample on how good it is – whatever good is to the user. Then, using user data, I would figure out what trends in the music contributes to the general like/dislike of that song. Is it a certain chord progression? BPM? Instruments/lack of instruments used?
  3. My plan for the next two weeks consists of collecting 30 different songs, preferably not very well known, but spanning as many genres as possible, and trim them all down into 20 second samples to use for the forum. All that’s left is to create the google form, which shouldn’t be too difficult.
  4. I will document the process of choosing the songs, and for what reasons each particular song was chosen. I will also document the process of obtaining those songs, and what 20 seconds of the song I want to include in the sample.

Material Studies

The material I chose to analyze for this study was cardboard. Cardboard is a very inexpensive, yet useful paper-based material. It’s quite rigid, and hold’s it’s shape well. It is, however, quite fragile, and is prone to tearing and/or folding. Cardboard can be used for creating temporary enclosures, and is relatively safe for the environment.

Given it’s easily puncturable/tearable paper surface, cardboard could serve as a good sensor in detecting damage to something. Say, for example, a cardboard phone case could provide information as to if the phone has encountered any trauma, as the cardboard would be punctured/torn.

On the other hand, cardboard could also serve as a good actuator. Cardboard’s tendency to fold and crease evenly could be harnessed and utilized in sensing hinges and their angles.

The benefits of using cardboard in either of these ways include saving tons of material money, as cardboard is very inexpensive. cardboard can also be very easily recycled, leaving a much smaller carbon footprint than plastic alternatives.

Limitations include it’s very easily damaged nature, making cardboard products quite flimsy and essentially one-time use. Using cardboard for anything permanent doesn’t tend to work well.

Perception Studies

My walking algorithm is as follows:

  1. Take a step with your right foot.
  2. Take a step with your left foot.
  3. If you hit an obstacle, turn right.
  4. Repeat

My intention when writing this algorithm was to simplify the walking process down to a fundamental action: a singular step. By repeating this algorithm many times, the person would simply continue walking forward, until they hit an obstacle.

Upon performing the walk, I noticed something crucial: this algorithm failed to take any auditory perception into account. Auditory perception becomes important when it comes to being able to hear a potential danger coming your way (a bus, an out-of-control long-boarder, etc.). For this reason, this algorithm is flawed, and thus unable to protect someone from auditory dangers.

To solve this issue, I designed a pair of headphones meant to perceive the outside world, rather than filter it out. These headphones would feature a microphone on the outside of each ear cup, perceiving the outside noise and analyzing their intensity levels. However, they relay this information to you in an interesting way: The louder the outside noise, the quieter the music coming out of your headphones. This is beneficial in two ways:

  1. Temporarily turning down the music encourages the user to listen to the potential dangers around them, instead of their music. This will keep users safer, and more aware.
  2. Since each ear cup features an independent microphone apparatus, the user can wander their environment, following the sound of their music, and as the user searches for the location with the loudest music volume (the least outside noise), they will consequentially be in their own space and safe from all harm.

This design amplifies the search for solitude, encouraging users to isolate themselves from any and all outside noise and interaction.

Here is a photo of my design, as well as a mini story-board for how this device is to be used:

Walking1Walking2

Future Product Catalog

CTPFutureCatalog

Technologies present:

  • Parking sensors
  • Personal Billboard on the side of the house
  • Spy drones
  • Spy cameras
  • Personal Cell Tower
  • Solar Panels powering the house

Designing for the future of housing technologies helped me realize just how much potential there was for improvements to security and energy efficiency. Living in the technology-ridden reality we do today, it can be hard to speculate where we could go from here – In other words, where have we yet to incorporate technology into our every day lives.

Given more time, I would have incorporated more means of clean and sustainable energy. In my image above, I incorporated solar panels on top of the house, meant to reduce energy costs and pollution from power plants. In addition, some form of water-filtration system and/or agricultural improvements would further decrease the carbon footprint of the residence.

 

Misuse Studies

My authoritative object that I chose for this assignment was an alarm clock. This is because an alarm clock serves one and only purpose – to wake you up. By waking you up, alarm clocks hold authority over your sleep schedule, and when they go off, they send a command to wake up, that you must comply with. Thus, an alarm clock holds an authoritarian political stance.Misuse1

When the user sets up an alarm clock before going to bed, they agree to wake up the next morning at whatever time they decide. Therefore, when it is time to wake up, alarm clocks are designed very purposefully to be annoying and loud, to force the user to wake up just tp shut off the annoying beeping. Alarm clocks express their authoritative stance by not taking no for an answer, intentionally designed for this purpose.

A rudimentary socio-technical map surrounding the alarm clock is shown below:Misuse2

In order for the alarm clock to be more politically democratic, I designed an alarm clock that wasn’t so forceful. This alarm clock, or more accurately a speaker, would have a light sensor, and anytime the sensor detects daylight, it will play the music, and anytime it detects night, it will turn off the music.

This alarm clock wouldn’t force the user to get up at a certain minute, but rather encourage the user to be awake during the day, and asleep during the night (which seems only natural). Thus, it would be much less authoritarian, and the user’s sleep schedule would ultimately feel more natural.

A prototype sketch of this democratic alarm clock is shown below:Misuse3

Inverting Metaphors

My article for this exercise was called “Say Goodbye to the Blob, Google’s new Emoji has Arrived”, link follows: Google Emoji Redesign

The original goal for their redesign was to design an emoji catalog that would convey the same meaning and emotion on other mobile OS’s, such as iOS. Therefore, the inverted goal would be to design an emoji catalog that only appears on Android phones, and not on any other device. For example, the “tears of joy” emoji that we all know and love would simply be displayed as *tears of joy*.

My implementation of this design was a guidebook, sold by Google at an astonishingly high price point, that would picture every emoji and a description of how each emoji should be used. Below are several pictures of my prototype.Emoji3Emoji2Emoji1

This inverted goal assumes that people have absolutely no desire to share their emoji’s with non-android users, establishing an elitist Android Army. Also, since this guidebook is so expensive, money is a bias in play here. This exercise helped me see those unconscious biases present in this design. It also helped me realize that our emoji system in place is fairly robust and put together, and I see little to no place for this incompatibility in my day-to-day life.