For this project I transposed the functions of a digital camera to a wearable helmet comprising of a pair of automated shutters, a functioning camera and an interactive screen. The shutters are used to blind the wearer of Touchy, only your touch will activate their opening and allow Touchy to see. When a human contact is maintained for 10 seconds, the front facing camera captures an image, which is displayed on the back facing screen for the user to access.
Metaphorically, Touchy lives in an isolating cage built by the experience of total darkness, as if they are encountering the same sensuous withdrawal as some social disorder patients. An effortless touch by someone else is an action of giving vision and taking photos, which heals the anxiety and generates a playful interaction that invites people to have fun and reinterpret the way we think about and use cameras.
Some obstacles are solvable by accessible technology and moderate electronics knowledge, others require more expensive solutions or intensive technical research (such as the sensor), which is still a work in progress with the sensor research team. Moreover, in this instructable, I will also include comments from Tosa Novmichi@Maywa Denki, my project adviser, who has been valuable in Touchy.
This Instructable is divided to following parts:
- 3D modeling (Solidworks)
- Mechanical and Electronics design
- The Touchswitch Sensor Research and Experiment.
Step 1: Design
The first sketch of Touchy illustrated something way simpler (as a pair of goggles) than the finished product and of course that was overly optimistic because there is no way for me to embed all electronics in this design. After further brainstorming I decided a key point that guides my design - the device should be able to make direct association to a camera object. Like when people see it they should say "Look, it's a camera! On someone’s head?!" The sketches extend to this direction and in the third image I try to reference Polaroid cameras because they are fun and toylish. However, this idea is still not very realistic and it doesn't direct our association to camera precisely.
Next I thought to convert the entire head to a camera instead of just the eye. In this sense, the eyes would be the lenses of the camera and the head/brain of the person is the body/brain of the camera. I compared the camera helmet idea to the camera goggles and created different evolution of possible design.
As an artist who has never really worked as a product designer working on this product-like project, there was one question came into my mind - should I design the object from outside in? Or inside out? This was a very critical question. When I started from the outside, I always worry if it will fit everything inside, on the contrary, if I start from inside, I am afraid some decisions might make the outside ugly. It's a very difficult balancing game especially we couldn't confirm how much electronics components we have to embed into the helmet. I asked this question to Tosa, and he said he used to do outside in, so that you won't lose your desired shape and design. What happen inside is always more flexible and solvable. I agree with that and I also find it important to work within limitations that you have to pin point some elements in your project that almost unchangeable and work around it. Like Apple might have their first iPad 1 as thin as the iPad 2 if the screen and battery could be thinner (of course, despite their business strategy.)
I finally chose the design of the last image, and it still somewhat an intermediate, but it is good enough for prototyping.