Physical Computing Midterm with Rob Faludi, Fall 2010. Created in collaboration with Cooper Smith and Michael Yap.

 

Challenge

Design a new solution for an existing problem.

 

Approach

We first started off with the NYC subway as our problem space. But as we delved into researching possible issues to tackle, we realized that it might be better served to approach a problem that was more accessible in creating a physical and implementable solution. So, we rerouted ourselves and decided to focus on the elevator/stairway in our own SVA building. At the SVA IxD department, we realized that the only method available for travel is via elevator, which is slow and often overcrowded. To add to the issue, certain access points in the stairwell were locked. In choosing this space, it was clear that we had to remedy this situation before we could proceed.

First, we petitioned various stakeholders within the building to get the stairs unlocked between the first floor, the sixth floor studio, and the eleventh floor classroom. With the stairwell now a possible mode of travel, we then made direct observations on student habits and ideated on how to encourage students to take the stairs. We realized that by the time the user calls the elevator, he or she has already committed to taking the elevator. The key was to intercept the user during his or her decision-making process before they even reached the call buttons.

Outcome

Small Steps was an interactive installation implemented in the SVA IxD hallway. A large pressure sensor was created and placed at the stairwell door to track the number of people who were taking the stairs. The idea was to intercept users through as they went to call the elevator by displaying the running total of people who had taken the stairs, as well as what the number could represent (in this case, the total number of calories burned). Our theory was that such data would cultivate a collective impact. And in the week that the project was launched, over 200 people elected to take the stairs rather than the elevator.

    Schematic: Pressure sensor prototype

    Schematic: Pressure sensor prototype

    Conducting some user testing with our code

    Conducting some user testing with our code

    Our large DIY pressure sensor mat was placed in front of the stairwell to measure the number of people who passed through (two consecutive steps were counted as one person)

    Our large DIY pressure sensor mat was placed in front of the stairwell to measure the number of people who passed through (two consecutive steps were counted as one person)

    Soldering in the middle of the hallway

    Soldering in the middle of the hallway

    Data Display: How many people in the department took the stairs + how many total calories were burned

    Data Display: How many people in the department took the stairs + how many total calories were burned

    Projecting the data over the wall where a user would call the elevator

    Projecting the data over the wall where a user would call the elevator

    Final installation

    Final installation