Perception Studies (Kelsey Mullins)

My walking algorithm was

  • Walk forward counting your steps. If you reach an obstacle:
    • If you are at an even number of steps go left
    • If you are at an odd number of steps go right
    • If you number of steps is a multiple of 10 turn around
  • Repeat


I didn’t really have specific intentions with the walking algorithm I designed. I wanted to create something that would cause you to pay attention to the surroundings, but I think the step counting ended up being more distracting than intended.

On my walk I noticed how many small paths there were. It was hard to determine what counted as an “obstacle” and I think this was very open to interpretation. This is something I wouldn’t have normally considered walking around campus. I think the vagueness of the word “obstacle” allowed me to think about objects in a way I usually wouldn’t have when trying to decide if they counted or not.

My design was headphones that make a soft beep at random intervals to encourage the user to look around at their surrounds. In a way, you could “train” yourself to respond to the beep so it would become an unconscious response. I think this design amplifies the users ability to connect with the world outside their headphones.

The design suggests that users should respond to the beep in a certain way, but technically a user could “train” themselves to do any action upon hearing the beep. This could include straightening their posture, drinking water, or other habits. The design is open enough to allow this interpretation because the sound does not tell the user to do a specific thing. For example, if the message said “look around” or “sit up straight” instead of just a beep, the intentions of the design would be more strongly imposed on the user.



Perception Studies









The goal of my walking algorithm was to mimic what I imagine programming a robot to walk would be like. I tried to use a lot code language like if and while statements. My code includes some of the main obstacles you would come across walking through campus. Something I noticed while following someone else’s directions was things I would normally do without even thinking about I couldn’t perform because it wasn’t in the algorithm. For example, I was outside and I was right in the middle of a sidewalk when I heard a skateboarder coming. Typically I would just move over towards the side, but the algorithm didn’t say anything about skateboards. I ended up just breaking the rules because there were people walking and I didn’t want anyone to get run in to.

For my design I created a device that will charge your phone if you walk a lot. The more you walk, the more charge is available. My design amplifies the fact that people would be willing to walk around to allow them to charge their phone. It also amplifies the fact that we use our phones so much we can’t make it a whole day without having to charge our phones. I envision that this design could be used for someone working an office job and their phone is dying. They also are trying to lose weight, so they can kill two birds with one stone by going on a walk to allow them to become more active while charging their phone. Now this person enjoys more walks and in places they normally wouldn’t walk around. They are now seeing new sights and their walk is for a purpose, which might inspire them to walk more.

Perception Studies

Here is my walking algorithm:


My intention with this algorithm was to provide multiple options for the user to travel. By having the user roll the dice every time they reach a crossroad, it may force them to go in new directions that they may have not before. Also, having the middle range of numbers (the ones that are more likely to be rolled) be the “turn” operations, I thought it may make the user take more turns through a certain space and prevent them from getting stuck.

During my walk, I was told to “turn right if I saw someone wearing red”, and “turn left if I saw someone wearing blue”. Once I ended up upstairs, I put in my headphones, so I could listen to some music as I meandered through classes. And I noticed that people looked at me in weird ways, but not one person stopped to ask me what I was doing. I think that by following this set of instructions, it allowed me to notice how people were curious as to what I was doing, but seemed not to want to bother me in order to ask and find out.

Below is my design sketch. It is a pair of headphones with a reversible band on top. This band allows the user to display to others whether or not they would be open to being social while they have their headphones on. Headphones have become a universal symbol of “leave me alone,I have somewhere to be”, but sometimes it’s nice to let other people know that it’s okay to talk to you.

These headphones amplify the notion of always “needing somewhere to be and something to do”. Instead, people should be open to being social and enjoying music at the same time.

The “script” that describes how people would use this technology is that it forces the user to think about their day and decide whether or not they would like to be social on their next trip. The headphones will only fit on one way, so the user MUST decide before wearing them.



Headphones that use Google maps to see where you are and tell you interesting things that you might go nearby and tell you about there history.

I wanted to make my algorithm as good as I can, meaning that it will pass any test that you threw at it. I wanted to make sure that people didn’t get into dead ends and there was no function in how to resolve that. But It turns out that there are a lot more unforeseen circumstances than I previously thought. Like walking through a street.

The instructions told me to walk a certain distance and then stop for one minute and take in your environment. And what I noticed is that In the mornings at CU it is very noisy. Part of that was due to the construction going on but the other part of it is the busses and the cars in the street. People are just trying to do their jobs and getting to places in the morning. very robotic and I am one of them.

My design amplifies the option to be part of the world and rather than someone or something forcing you to. My design, if the user wishes to choose can interact with part of the environment, by taking time to stop learn about places and buildings that they usually pass. But know they can stop and take a look at what is around them.

People might us my technology by using the headphones as regular headphones, but now you can learn and stop and look at your environment if you choose.


Perception Studies – Repetition


The intention of my algorithm was to create a different experience than the typical walking we do every day. I tried to incorporate elements, such as sitting down or texting a loved one, that might add new perspectives to the activity. While I did not have any particular technical goals, as in to reach a certain destination, I focused more on altering perceptions.

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On the walk Jennifer designed, I was caught in a loop on the second floor of the environmental design building and the north stairwell. I did go up to the third floor – a place where, in my 2.5 year career at CU, and being a constant user of the building,  I have never been – and saw interesting wall art. I also noticed different posters, marks on the floor, and signs that I never paid attention to prior. The instructions encouraged this because the purpose was the walk itself; usually, it is merely the mechanism by which we achieve a destination, and our true purpose. By focusing intently on the act, we may become aware of all that we miss.

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In my own design, I attempted to amplify this focus, though mainly on auditory stimuli. By incorporating the sounds of the environment around the user into their music, they might be more observant of the goings-on, and may actively seek out the source of the sound.

Overall, this design might annoy its users. Many people enjoy listening to music as means of escapism – taking them out of the chaos of daily life and isolating them in their own world for a few brief moments. The sounds might dilute the purity of the music they so enjoy, as well, diluting the listening experience. Truthfully, this design may defeat the very purpose for which headphones were invented – to isolate and separate sound for one user’s enjoyment. Thus, they may be tempted to avoid using the headphones and go with another pair instead.

Perception Studies


My intentions with the walking algorithm that I designed was for the user to take their time walking through campus and consider the various areas that could be explored if we used paths that we do not normally consider the most ‘efficient’ way to get to our destinations. The algorithm I designed worked because it force the user to follow the instructions given in the algorithm rather than using the most efficient path to get to a location.

When walking with the algorithm instructions I realized how various steps can be interpreted. For example what constitutes an obstacle? Is it any time we physically cannot move forward or is it when our step pattern is interrupted? This became evident when I encountered a set of stairs. Is this an obstacle because it interrupts my walking pattern or can I continue on my path because it physically does not block me from walking forward? While I assumed that stairs were obstacles for the first 15 minutes I quickly found myself trapped in the plaza above the steps leading down to Duane field. It took about 10 minutes to eventually use the other sidewalk to proceed out of the plaza. This process also allowed me to see some of the social expectations that people have when walking in public areas. While I was stuck in the plaza I had a few students ask if I was lost and needed help getting to a certain building. I also received multiple stares for walking back and forth through the plaza.  The alogorith brought these things to my attention becuase it forced me to slow down and take the time to follow the algorithim’s instructions. It brought me to locations that I have previously never visited on campus.

This is a phone the projects your phone screen as a physical hologram when you use your device.

An aspect of the users lifeworld that is amplified by my new design is our society’s focus on always having social connections to our peers. With a projected screen of our mobile devices people would become more aware of how often we rely on our mobile devices as a form of social status and connection. With everything on our phones being projected as a hologram people become aware of how often we use technology throughout the day because the sheer amount of projected items through would encounter.

A script that might describe what behavior is evoked in the user when they use my new technology is a user using their phone less often in public. By projecting what is traditionally kept private on our phones into a public space people are less likely to use their phones in public. Since we want to keep most of the things viewed on our phone private users will be forced to only check their phones in private areas if they want to keep their mobile activities private.


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:


Perception Studies

This week, we will be taking inspiration from the situationist practice of dérive to shape our perception on familiar places. Using a slight adaptation, we will be doing algorithmic walks. One student will create a set of rules for another student to walk.

Prior to 10/11:
Prepare an algorithm for walking. Your algorithm should focus on the most basic directions for walking and not have any specified ending point. For example, you’re algorithm could be:

walk straight
when you hit an obstacle, flip a coin
  if heads: turn right
if tails: turn left

walk 20 steps
if you hit an obstacle before you reach 20 steps, turn left
otherwise, turn right

 Please don’t use these specific directions, make your own. Feel free to involve other props like dice, cards, poems, things, etc. 

Bring to Class on 10/11:
Your walking algorithm, printed or written on paper, and any necessary props

In Class on 10/11:
We’ll swap walking algorithms with classmates and then spend 15 minutes following the algorithms and 15 minutes returning to the classroom. Along the way, we’ll take photos or take note of what we notice. When you arrive back, we’ll discuss your experiences. Drawing from those experiences, we’ll do design sketches for technologies that disrupt our habits and flows, prompting new reflections on the world.

Turn in on Friday, 10/13:
Please submit a blog post with the following:

  • your walking algorithm (the one you wrote)
  • your photos or description of your design sketch
  • a paragraph reflecting on the following:
    • What were your intentions with the walking algorithm you designed? Did you have any particular goals or desires that would come about in the way you designed it?
    • What did you notice on your walk that you would not have noticed otherwise? Why do you think the instructions you followed allowed you to notice those things?
    • what aspects of the users lifeworld does  your design “amplify” and how does it do that?
    • what “script” might describe how people would use your technology (e.g. how do the materials and overall design suggest particular actions and relationships)