Today a student in my class showed me the hilarious and somehow obscene videos of Ryan Trecartin…check them out on Youtube. They make me feel old, as in “look at the new cool shit young people are making which is totally out of left field for me”. Incidentally I’ll be graduating from the lucrative 18-34 year old demographic next week (Children of the Corn anyone?). Moreover, his work makes me feel pretty academic (and not in the good way). Here I am blahg, blahg, blahging about minutiae, that most people don’t care about, whereas his work seems to be rather free and off the cuff, and it looks like it’s a celebrated life. Oh well, that’s the way it goes…here’s some more minutiae.
There appears to be a gap in my thinking about this project. I have a rationale for the tactility of the object, and reasons for the general snake-like shape (in order to wrap around a person’s body), but why this specific design. I mean, if you look up snake robots you’ll find a variety of interesting examples from which I could have derived a design, and some of the designs are particularly good for locomotion, and perhaps the control system is easier as well. Have a look at this amazing robot by Howie Choset for example:
As you can see from the video, the robot is capable of rolling up a person’s limb, so that kind of haptic interaction has already been established with that design. My design more closely resembles another amazing machine by Hod Lipson and company:
In fact, my design most closely resembles a Rubik’s snake:
I remember now why I chose that design, because it seemed so good at forming various shapes. It’s like a reformable sculpture, and so I saw opportunities for automating the formation of these shapes. Perhaps separately, I also saw opportunities for interacting with people through haptics, so it seemed desirable to collapse these two efforts into one design. Yet I’ve thought little about the automation of shapes since the early days, and much more about tactility, which prompts some questions. Will I do the automatic sculpture thing? If not, then is the current design weaker than say Howie Choset’s for haptic interaction? If so, should I switch it. I can answer the last question first. As a matter of practicality, no I won’t change the design…too much work, too little time. I’ll see what I’ve done through to the end and try to exploit the aesthetic opportunities this design presents.