Final Presentation – Spencer Barton

The Black Box

Put your hand into the black box. Inside you will find something to feel. Now take a look through the microscope. What do you feel? What do you see?

The Box and Microscope

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Inside the Box

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Under the Microscope

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When we interact with small objects we cannot feel them. I can hold the spider but I cannot feel it. The goal here is to enable you to feel the spider, to hold it in your hand. Our normal interaction with small things is in 2D. We see through photographs or a lens. Now I can experience the spider though touch and feel its detail. I have not created caricatures of spiders, I copied a real one. There is loss of detail but the overall form is recreated and speaks to the complexity of living organisms at a scale that is hard to appreciate.

The box enables the exploration of the spider model before the unveiling of the real spider under the microscope. The box can sense the presence of a hand and after a short delay, enabling the viewer to get a good feel of the model, a light is turned on to reveal the spider under the microscope.

Explanation of the Set-up

The Evolution of Ideas

As I created the models I found that my original goal of recreation was falling short. Instead of perfect representations of the creatures under the microscope, I had white plastic models that looked fairly abstract. The 123D models were much more realistic representations because of their color. My original presentation ideas focused around this loss of detail and the limits of the technology. However, what I came to realize was were the strengths of the technology lay: the recreation of the basic form of the object at a larger scale. For example someone could hold the spider model and get a sense of abdomen versus leg size. Rather then let someone view the model I decided to only let them feel the model.

Feedback and Moving Forward

The general feedback that I got was to explore the experience of the black box in more depth. There were two key faults with the current set-up. First the exposure of the bug under the microscope happened too soon. Time is needed for the viewer to form a questions of what is inside the black box. Only after that question is created should the answer be shown under the microscope. The experience in the box could also be augmented. The groping hand inside the box could also be exposed to other touch sensations, it could activate sound or trigger further actions. The goal would be to lead the experience toward the unveiling. For example sounds of scuttling could be triggered for the spider model.

The second piece of feedback lay with the models themselves. First it was tough to tell that the model in the box was an exact replica of the bug under the microscope. The capture process losses detail and the model creation through 3D printing adds new textures. The plastic 3D models in particular were not as interesting to touch as the experience was akin to playing with a plastic toy.

To recognize and rectify these concerns this project can be improved in a few directions. First I will improve the box with audio and a longer exposure time. Rather then look through the microscope I will have a laptop that displays the actual images that were used to make the model. The user’s view on this model with then be controlled by how they have rotated the model inside the box.

I will try another microscope and different background colors to experiment with the capture process and hopefully improve accuracy. I will redo the model slightly larger with the CNC. MDF promises to be a less distracting material to touch. Additionally the fuzziness of MDF is closer to the texture of a hairy spider.


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