21 Feb, 2021
The first side project I want to start writing about is Project Caramel. Why Caramel? Working on confidential projects in my dayjob, I’m used to working with codenames. Besides being a fun way to reference what you’re working on, I think it gives freedom to allow the thing you’re working on to develop independently of it’s name. In blogging, I’ve seen it used by Tom Armitage, who I think uses it because of client confidentiality. For these personal non-confidential side projects, it’s about having a way of referencing a project while the idea is still developing.
Project Caramel is an old idea I had while studying. I was curious about creating more sensuous interfaces that allow for expressivity and mastery. Think about how a piano or keyboard key has the notion of velocity and even aftertouch, while a keyboard key is binary. What if the keyboard keys were sensitive to the way you strike the key? Like typing harder would switch to caps?
I want to explore ideas of having interfaces be a natural part of a surface rather than something that’s mounted onto it. Like if the wood itself was the interface rather than a button coming out through it.
First iteration of the prototype I’m building to explore the concept consists of:
My thinking is, by picking up the audio signal from a surface as I interact with it and performing signal processing, I should be able to quantify interactions.
There’s a lot going on here. Electronics, designing and developing the circuitry needed to properly pick up the audio signal. Firmware development, developing the DSP algorithms needed to qualify the signal. When electronics and firmware is up and running, I will move into the industrial design, designing and prototyping the surfaces that explore the design space that I suspect the sensor opens.
What’s the end-game? the output? I belong to the school of Researching Through Design / Thinking Through Making, where the meaning is something that emerges as you actually start developing and embodying the idea. The answer for now is, I don’t know.
For this week, I researched amplifier-, limiter-, and filter-circuitry, and attended a HackChat Event on signal conditioning with Jonathan Foote. It informal yet informative. The format invited a lot of sharing from everyone present, and after the event I had purchased two new books and had 10+ new tabs open with subjects to research.
I also purchased components for prototyping the above circuitry, which should arrive next week.