September 19, 2018
For my piece of public interaction technology, I picked the humble public bus pull-cord.
The pull-cord is so intuitive that I can remember as a child wanting to pull on the cord to stop the bus. The affordance of the pull-cord is as direct as it’s name, pull the brightly colored, high contrast cord and something will happen. We’ve been taught through public transportation ettiqute to constrain ourselves from only pulling the cord when it’s one’s stop. And there’s the immediate feedback of a bell noise and light indicating “bus stopping” upon pulling the cord.
I’ve never seen anyone try to push the pull-cord or been confused about it’s purpose on the bus. The minimum instructions that pulling the cord signals for stop is an indication to its simplicity. Perhaps the only confusion stems from how high the cord is placed, riders know its there but can struggle to find it if not looking.
For my lab project that uses an Arduino’s digital inputs and outputs, I built a reaction timer game. The first prototype and the Arduino’s program is inspired by this Instructables project. Shown below is a slightly modified circuit from the one described in the tutorial. Instead of using only one LED to indicate the beginning of the game and start of the reaction timer, I used two LEDs. The yellow LED flickers to indicate the beginning of the game and then the player has to press the button as soon as the green LED turns on (code).
I continued to iterate on this prototype by adding a piezo buzzer if the player’s reaction was too slow. The buzzer was connected to digitial pin 7 and then the Arduino program would generate a noise using
tone if the player’s reaction time was greater than 1000ms (code).
Video) of the buzzer prototype.
Finally, I decided to modify the circuit so that it behaved more like a drag racing Christmas tree. The new game behavior became:
A red LED was added to the circuit as part of these changes and I refactored the code to follow this behavior.
Video of the finished prototype.
Some thoughts I had if I were to redo this project or continue to build on it:
A perpetual work in progress blog documentating my NYU ITP projects. Words are my own.