Outline new numuseum design

First map of the content and structure of the next numuseum design. Start with an app that shows all the live data. Visitors can then choose if they browse by category, timeline or tag cloud. They should also be able to search the content. This won’t be easy to realize because a lot of content is on different sites like Flickr or Delicious. But it will be great if I manage a smooth mash-up.


About AQAb

This blog is about the design and creation is of a wearable that measures, displays and shares real-time air quality data. This wearable is developed during the wearables group at the digital lab in Den Bosch. This blog monitors the progress of this process.

Data and functionality

Data and functionality

Ten blog posts were commissioned by the Media Art Platform. Parts of this blog are rewritten and appear on their Expert Blogs section. The Media Art Platform in its original form has ceased to exist in it’s original form. It has continued as a Facebook page.


Saturday we had our first meeting with the wearable group. They seemed like an enthusiastic and creative bunch so that’s a good start. A lot of different ideas from everyone so we will pick up a lot from each other in the next couple of months.

Listening to and talking with Anna Maria Cornelia was a refreshing and inspiring event. She’s an Experience Design teacher at the Technical University in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. She talked about her mission for the students to find a balance between technology and ideas. Urging them to take a broad approach to the subject and not get stuck in solutions or technology at the beginning. Another important thing she stressed that in the design process, every step is important. For me it was an appeal for awareness of my own process and to value every sketch and scribble. A notion already installed in me by my teacher Martin van Opdorp at the art academy but this was a good reminder.

She put her approach to practice with us right from the start. As I talked about data visualisation she asked me what that was. So I started to talk about LEDs and displays. My assignment for the next couple of weeks is to think about data visualisation without the technique, everything but LEDs and displays… That’s quite liberating! (But also kind of a shock to be honest.) She thought the warning bit was a negative message and wondered if there’s a way to work with the data and send out a positive message. I must say some people in the group were not very pleased with knowing how bad the air quality is. I’m the kind of person who just wants to know, be aware either good or bad. But I do need to consider what I want to achieve with the data, what kind of emotions I want to arouse.

So much for the concept, we also had to think about the techniques we’re going to use. For me that means of course the different sensors (are there any sensors that measure ‘positive’ gasses, and what would they be? Oxygen may be?), communication with the mobile phone and an idea popped up to see if I can make the thing run on solar energy so as not to contribute to the pollution.

So quite a lot of challenges ahead of which I’ll keep you posted.

Looking forward

Tomorrow is the first of ten meetings for the wearable group at the Digital Lab in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. Together with nine other artists we’ll each be designing and developing our own wearable. We’ll receive artistic support from Anna Maria Cornelia De Gersem and technical support from the lab.
I’ve been looking forward to this work group for a long time. It was scheduled for last year but was cancelled then. For the rest of the year we’ll be meeting regularly to work together and exchange ideas. In between the meetings we can continue with our piece our self.

For this work group I’ll finally be realising an idea I’ve had for quite some time. I want to monitor the air quality with different sensors and display the data real time on a wearable. This way me and other people can assess how healthy the air is we’re breathing. The piece will therefore be called Body-warner. The design will be inspired on a safety vest. There the bight colours are mend to warn others that you’re there. My vest will warn myself and others of possible dangers around us.
I don’t want the data to be lost so the plan is collect the data with a mobile phone and send it to an online database. I’ll be using a (Lillypad) Arduino with Bluetooth to communicate with the mobile phone. Through the phone’s internet connection I’ll send the sensor data to a server every couple of minutes. I want to develop a frontend using Google Maps to display the results. Through a calendar functionality you should be able to retrieve older air quality information for the areas I’ve visited wearing the vest.

There are lots of challenges and learning points for me here. As for the design/interface: apart from the reference to a safety vest I’m not at all sure how I will display the data. The vest could have a ‘cloud’ of LEDs (view sketch) or I may be using the chemical names for the gasses I’m measuring. They all contain an O which is nice :) On the other hand I could work with rows of LEDs or even a display…

Possible design for vest

Possible design for vest

I also haven’t decided on which gasses to measure yet. It’ll depend on the availability of the sensors and if they can be combined with an Arduino. For example I’d like to measure oxygen, O2 (nice) but I don’t know if that actually tells me something about air quality. It would do inside, but I’m still don’t know if I’ll measure inside or if I’ll make a special indoor mode. This will also depend on the GPS I’ll be using. Will I get a separate Bluetooth one or integrate one with the Arduino?
I’m looking forward to finding out more about Bluetooth and Arduino and especially about the communication between the Arduino and the mobile phone. Gaining this knowledge will open up many new possibilities for me.

I’ve already had a lot of fun doing research for this project. The list of links on the right shows that lots of people are interested in the subject and working on similar projects which is very inspiring.

Meeting @ Anja’s house

Meeting @ Anja’s house, 21-11-2008 from 12.00-17.00. Present: Anja, Barbara, Danielle.

Most of our time we spend on clarifying our concept and writing it down. This is the final result:


- Visualize inner states

- Create awareness

- Promote interaction

- Promote well-being

- New way of communicating/making contact



These days people feel vulnerable when showing so called negative emotions, such as grief, sadness, pain, fear or anger. We want to create a space for these emotions and to communicate them in a other way. Our e-pressed shirt is a new communication layer for handling the vulnerability caused by these negative emotions.

By sensing and visualizing inner states, e-pressed creates awareness in the wearer and in others. Awareness is followed by possible interaction, which is stimulated by light visuals. Areas originating from acupressure therapy will light up and invite the wearer and others to press on them, relieving tension and stimulating well-being.

E-pressed stimulates a new way of communicating and making contact with others.


The shirt

Through the input of sensor(s): we would like to define 3 different inner states

At a discrete position the status Light shows the currant inner state to the wearer.


1. Inner state: balanced – action: no interaction is necessary

Visual effect: Status light is white.

0 acupressure areas light up


2. Inner state: low energy – action: stimulation

Visual effect: Status light is orange light.

2 acupressure areas light up


3. Inner state: high energy (stress) – action: calming

Visual effect: blue LED on in control switch

4 acupressure areas light up


What happens

The different points light up according to the input given by the sensor(s). The points will be situated in “areas of interaction”. These areas should facilitate the process of finding the correct pressure points on different people. They will be identified by an outline of LED’s or a print.

By pressing the points, other people can interact with the wearer and get vibration feedback while pressing them.

When the ‘treatment time’ is over, both light and vibration will stop.

The latest version of our heart-rate sensor proved to be not quite finished. It was odd to see that it didn’t work very well on Danielle (probably because of her small fingers) but it was OK on Anja and Barbara. We do have to adjust the pod-meters with every person which makes it less generic… The biggest problem is that we can’t write the data to file like we could earlier. So it was hard to analyse and use. Danielle will work with Richard on that.

Danielle has send an e-mail to Bernard from Imec for a possible collaboration to work with their sensors.

Barbara will work on the pressure areas. See how things work out with print and LED or fiber LED.

Next meeting was planned for week 50 but that’s probably too short notice.

Meeting 12/03/08 @ Anja’s studio

Our first meeting after the workshop. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Present were Anja, Barbara and Danielle.

We started off by rethinking the project:

  • Is it necessary for our project to work with pressure points? Working with them is very precise work that has to be done by a human to be effective.
  • Maybe it’s more useful for us to work with area’s instead of points? They can be visualized by heat sensitive ink.
  • The element of communication and touch is crucial for the wearable, it should stimulate (bodily) contact between the wearer of the garment and others
  • Practices like Reiki and Shiatsu prove the power of touch
  • We could consider tension treatment on a specific area of the body. For example neck tension could be relieved by placing a warm hand on the tense area. We could also use vibrators to relax tense muscles.
  • Is there a way to express a surplus of good feelings (like: I feel energetic, full of love or peace)?

We also thought about how to communicate our project, what language to use. Do we mention the type of ‘New Age’ things that inspire us? We decided that the most important thing to communicate is that the wearable is an added means of communication for the wearer. It can express inner states that may be hard to talk about. It also makes it more easy for people to communicate in a direct and free way. These are things that a lot of people long for. For those interested we can elaborate on the ‘softer’ and medical side of the project. So we can have levels of communication about the project.

Our goal is to make an attractive wearable that will appeal to a large audience and still express the more vulnerable side of people and help them with emotions, awareness and communication.

These are the main elements of the wearable:

  1. Interaction on area’s using touch
  2. Communicate moods/inner states
  3. Make use of meridians, chakra’s, pressure points
  4. Levels of states: body > emotions > spirituality

Way of measuring inner states:

  1. Switches: choose mood from a given set
  2. Sensors: GRS, heart-rate, muscle tension, breath-rate, skin temperature, blood-pressure

Ways of expressing inner states:

  1. Changing ink (area)
  2. LED light (spots)
  3. LED wire (area)
  4. Luminex (area)

We wrote a letter to Frank Kooi asking him for advice and a meeting.

We decided to start this blog to measure progress and to exchange and centralize idea’s.

We continue our research on the output (materials) and input (sensors).

The next meeting is planned on 02/04/08 @ 11 a.m. @ Anja’s studio.