The two weeks of our Arduino project have been an exercise in adaptation (I think Darwin would be proud). With a constantly evolving brief and Jon hitting us with code trucks from all directions, it was a challenge to come up with anything even resembling a working model for the display. We did it, though! And now here we are, looking back on everything we learned.
Honestly, the biggest challenge in this course may have been creating and working in multidisciplinary groups without killing each other. However, all the conflicts and clashes in perspective meant a combined, balanced point of view for the group. Yes, we spent three days discussing one concept, but the resulting clarity of thought was a blessing.
One of our areas of investigation was the difference between a house and a home. The overwhelming consensus from our fieldwork was that a house is made of bricks and cement, but a home is made of people. Looking at the brief — “The Connected Home” — through this lens, we realised that it should have been more like “Connecting People”. Instead of creating a super smart house which discounted the residents, we wanted to create a connection between the people in a home.
Jon’s way of teaching coding is a bit like how I was taught swimming — thrown into the pool and then it’s swim or drown. It’s not the most subtle approach, but it gave us a lot of experience using coding to create experience prototypes.
It was refreshing to be working without the worry of a “final product” or a “display-worthy outcome”. The emphasis was on being experimental and focussing on the experience over the tech involved. We tried our best to have fun with it (occasionally falling back into our old ways and then panicking before Arjun would swoop in and tell us to stop overthinking). We tried to create magic, turning our addled minds to ‘how it would feel’ instead of ‘how we would do it’.
We were privileged to be working with the members of the Unbox Caravan, who brought their years of experience and technical expertise to our vague ideas and helped make them a reality. Just to be in the presence of such a diverse and talented group of people was inspiring.
This course has helped us become more confident presenting our work at the drop of a hat. Showing at the Museum of Conflict to the local community was a revelation in how a layman would perceive our concepts. We got varied interpretations of our prototype, none of which were even remotely close to our actual idea. We also had to make changes to our prototype on the spot to make the experience more fun for the audience. Overall, it was a lesson in how to curate our work for display, and we understood the necessary changes to make our work more relatable.
We’re leaving this course with a lot of good energy and an opened mindset (plenty of sleep debt as well). We’ve become more comfortable with iterating and getting feedback on our concepts. Obviously, we’ve learnt a tremendous amount about electronics, IoT and Arduino, but we’ve also learnt a lot about ourselves and how we work under stress. It’s been fabulous learning with Jon, and hopefully we’ll get to be run over by his code trucks again someday.
Team Love and Networks