ChairJam was this weekend! The event we have all been waiting for has come to pass. There were a few last minute details to clean up before the event, like making sure we had the food orders prepared and all the materials in place, but no major disasters took place. We did have a few participants drop out of the event just before it began (or the night after it began, in one case), but we believe that’s to be expected with any event and it did not cause any major shaking of the boat.
The event itself went off without a hitch. We had the participants to form four teams who all spent the weekend jamming away at their own, unique ideas. Periodically throughout the week, we also had some special guests come by to talk with the teams, give them feedback, and enjoy the atmosphere. Each of the Joyride team participated as well, split between the four teams. Below are accounts of our own personal experiences and projects:
Parker’s Team – TOAK
TOAK worked on ‘Light Tag’. Light Tag is a version of Tag for all abilities. Rather than requiring a physical touch for It to ‘tag’ someone, we use the Laser Tag method of using light and receivers. The number and placement of receivers can be adjusted to fit the player. The laser placement is also unique – it is not held like in typical Laser Tag, but rather strapped to the players’ to add more balance and goofiness.
They struggled with Light Tag in the tech. department. The issue was that making a receiver that covered enough surface area was difficult with the materials we had on hand. Most photo-resistors were very small, whereas optimally your laser tag receiver would be fairly large. The team went back and forth with this issue for some time before deciding that a paper playtest would be the best way to move forward. By the end of the jam, they had only made one working laser tag receiver, complete with lights and sound, but the experience creating and testing the experience was a blast.
Jinyi’s Team – Team Wheelie
Team Wheelie made the Kinect game Time’s Up. Time’s Up is a co-op game centered around mobility and physical space management. 2 players stand next to each other within a marked play space and see a clock face with red blocks around the time markers. A time will be called out and the two players must work together to cover both the hour hand and minute hand of the time.
During the event the team mainly researched 1) using wheel rotation as the major input. 2) tracking player position and posture with kinect. The team eventually decided to develop the experience with kinect. The experience aimed to motivate active exploration and collaboration (w/ or w/o a chair), and to make sure it is fully accessible it would allow customization of the range of mobility.
Yuki & Jiajun’s Team – Team Moving Art
The goal of their project, called Moving Art, was to combine all kinds of movement ability to create art. The art could be in the form of visuals or audio, but given the team formation included two art focused members, visuals were their focus. The team used built-in sensors of mobile phones, wireless mouses, and the Kinect to try out different kinds of movement tracking for the project. In the meantime, they tried out more physical attempts by mounting brushes and paint to the wheels of the chair. Artists on the team also made physical paintings as proof of concepts for the ideal output of the project. They even 3D printed an example of one of these art pieces. The project highly valued the mixed-ability concept of play, with the hope being that output could eventually be a mural that involved all kinds of movement.
During the ChairJam, Jiajun personally focused on movement tracking. Starting from using a mobile phone’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, he could get the basic function of movement-tracking. However, there was too much noise for it to be reliable. With a wireless mouse mounted to a wheelchair, he successfully achieved forward movement, but this was lacking rotational input, making it difficult to move on. Kinect ended up being a good fit in the end for tracking movement, the only problem being occlusion when people stood in front of one another.
Since Moving Art is a mixed-ability project, team members on the project spent time considering and creating art pieces depicting the daily lives of able-bodied and wheelchair-using people. Yuki, as an able-bodied visual artist on the team, focused on visualizing some patterns of daily activities as she experienced them, such as skiing, commuting, walking through the snow, etc. As a wheelchair-using abstract artist on the team, Theresa created some paintings illustrating her chair dancing, how she felt enjoying the wooded floor of the ChairJam venue, going down the curb, and other tiny but meaningful moments in her daily life. They collaborated together to pursue a combination of art which shared the joy of both able-bodied and wheelchair-using people.
Muhammad’s Team – Best Team
Muhammad’s team focused on practicality as much as it did on entertainment. Their product, ChairNav, is an attachable for wheelchairs that detects nearby obstacles using Ultrasonic Sensors and notifies the user through haptic feedback. The intensity of the feedback varies in intensity and frequency depending on the distance of the chair from the obstacle. As many feedback actuators can be attached depending on how many directions you want to detect obstructions in.
The team envisioned a maze navigating experience which requires the guest to be blindfolded, relying only on the haptic feedback for guidance. In a more practical sense, this can be beneficial for aiding individuals who use wheelchairs to navigate and traverse areas more safely by increasing their awareness of surroundings, particularly blind spots.