Day 7 – Preparing for the final presentation

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The last day of Sketching with Hardware is known to be the most hectic one, mainly because the projects have to be presented to interested visitors at twelve o’clock. Therefore each group was focused to finalize their project. Some groups were able to refine their program code, others were hectically soldering and drilling. The following “Panic-O-Meter” chart illustrates each group’s mental state over the morning.

 

Panic level on day seven

Panic level on day seven

 

Group 1:
The “Rescute“ team members finished their project already on day six and were quite relaxed on day seven. With their project finished and ready for the presentation they spent the morning capturing good sound samples and preparing their final presentation. After the presentation their panic level raised a bit. But in this case it was not project related, they had to write an important test afterwards.

 

Group 2:
After a hard night of working group two was focused to get their project done. They spent the whole night soldering in the universities computer lab and even slept there. Luckily they were able to finish their electronics and could concentrate on building the last train components. As they haven’t slept a lot group “Osterexpress” started with a very high stress level into the day, but as their project made good progress their panic level decremented significantly over the morning. Minutes before the presentation their project was finished and ready for the public demonstration.

 

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Group 3:
Team “Togebear“ had to fight against some small faults, due to a bad contact inside their bear. They spent quite some time finding the exact problem, but as they found it they were able to solve it pretty quickly. The rest of the morning they focused on code optimization and cleanup. After the teddy bear passed the final functionality tests they were ready and good to go for the presentation.

 

Group 4:
After a hectic Tuesday team “Looping Louie” finally got their game running. The morning before the presentation should be spent for optimization and optic fixes, but it came worse. As the team played some test matches “Louie” had some blackouts and they got worse from minute to minute, until “Louie” completely denied to work. Hectically (panic level ten and higher) the team tried to resolve the problem, but could not allocate it before the presentation. Shortly after the presentation the problem was identified as a soldering error on the motor control board, which led to a complete burnout of the motor control unit.

 

Group 5:
Team “Madlab” detected some servomotor calibration problems in the morning. They were quite stressed as they were not sure if they could solve it until the presentation starts. Luckily they were able to find the correct motor calibration and enjoyed some test games. Servomotor control, LEDs and magnets were working properly, therefore their panic level went from “total freak-out” to “absolutely chilled”

 

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Group 6:
The day started good for team “Ghostcamera” because their project was already working on Tuesday evening. They did some final configuration tasks and tried a lot of different test cases to ensure that the camera setup will be working properly when the public presentation starts. Because they did not run in any major problems denying a good presentation their panic level was dead low the whole morning.

 

At twelve o’ clock most teams were ready, others not, but the public presentation started anyway.

 

The final presentation

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After – for the most teams – working the whole morning to make their projects presentable, the time for public presentation of the projects was finally there. The employees of the media informatics and human-computer interaction groups visited the lab to see the creations of this semesters students. Each group presented their ideas and final prototype to the visitors and finally the winner of this seasons “Sketching with Hardware” was chosen by vote.

 

Group 1

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Group 1 presented their idea in a darker setting then our well-lit lab, because it provided a more realistic scenario. The final prototype of their protective teddy “Rescute” had most of the features that were planned in the brainstorming session. During the presentation all three escalation levels of the teddy worked perfectly: Dog barks at the first level,a  police siren and lights at the second level and a pepper spray (for the safety of the audience it was replaced by deodorant) at the third level. These features should  repel an attacker immediately.

 

Group 2

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After working the whole night and morning the “Osterexpress” group finally had a working prototype in their hands: A completely self-made train, cut with a lasercutter and equipped with several servo motors to cause mayhem during the otherwise placid easter holidays. The train consists of multiple wagons that are loaded with small plastic easter eggs and that are ready to fling them around whenever the train driver decides so. Although the train was a little under-motorized, the audience loved the “tossing-eastereggs”-functionality.

 

Group 3

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“Togebear” was the name of the prototype that group 3 created. Unlike most of the other groups, they managed to finish their project the day before, so there was no overnight stress or morning-panic for them. To strenthen long-distance relationships, the “Togebear” sprays the fragrance of the significant other whenever a email from the beloved one is received and the heart it is holding blinks. It also provides a feedback opportunity by pushing its ear, which will send an email to the beloved one. The audience liked this idea because it was the only non-malicious one in the lineup.

 

Group 4

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Group 4 worked until minutes before their presentation to produce a working prototype of their “Looping Louie”-game but didn’t make it. While they had it working at one point, as it naturally is with a bunch of cables inside a childs toy, it broke. More specifically on the day of presentation the motor that was turning the arm of the game just stopped working. They explained the issues they had in detail and the plans they had with the game as well. They day before they even  played it using a KI that was implemented on the computer and communicated with the Arduino. Maybe we can see a working prototype at the Open Lab Day.

 

Group 5

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The “Madlab” game that group 5 implemented was also on the brink of not working properly at the time of presentation, but fortunately they made it shortly before the presentation. They adapted a marble run to become even harder to play using different techniques like switches that invert the axis. One could control the board either using knobs or using a position sensing device. Some of the features were a bit flaky (i.e. switches not triggering), but all in all it looked like a fun (or hard) game to play.

 

Group 6

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“Ghost Polaroid” is the name of the project that group 6 was tackling. It is supposed to work like a simple polaroid camera by taking a picture and printing it, but instead modifies the images and puts a ghost into the background or replaces the faces on the image by famous internet memes. They hacked a cheap digital camera and printed the image using a thermal printer, all inside a laser-printed case. The image processing was done on the computer. Although the whole process took a while, the audience loved to participate in this mischief and getting their faces replaced by the grumpy cat.

 

The Winner

In the end, every visitor got a vote in the shape of a plastic star and had to give his or her vote to a project. They had some time to talk to the individual groups and possibly try out some of the prototypes by themselves. Then the winner of this seasons “Sketching with Hardware” was chosen:

“Ghost Polaroid”

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While everyone received their participants medal, they received a copy of the current edition of ct Hacks as an additional special. Congratulations.

Day 7: Final Sprint

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So there we were. Three o’clock in the morning. Two teams left. The deadline breathing down our necks. But surrender? In no possible way. Although thoughts and actions had become significantly slower, we kept focused – after all we had enough food supplies (in form of bananas, cereal bars, pizza left-overs and cookies) and the will to finish what we had begun was unbroken. And so we soldered, coded, composed and stitched throughout the whole night until the first beams of sun started to come through munich’s rooftops.

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It was just at that time, when when we had reached our low point. But in the nick of time the other teams should arrive and give us new hope. Well rested and highly motivated they entered the course room at about nine o’clock and spread a vibe of optimism and vigor. And so everybody rolled up one’s sleeves for the final sprint.

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And so it was no surprise that almost every team had finished their project in time when at 1 pm it was about time for the final presentation. Friends, researchers and and department employees got a short introduction into the topic and afterwards the teams presented their final prototypes (videos coming soon).

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After every prototype had been inspected and checked out and all questions had been answered, there was only one task left – cleaning up the mess. And so every wire, every resistor, every LED, every motor, every sensor end every arduino was collected, sorted by type, length or color and stored away. But just until next year, when the next twelve students are about to learn how to sketch with hardware…

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Day 7 – The finish line

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Unfortunately this was the last day of the Sketching with Hardware course. In the morning all teams worked hard to finish their prototypes and to make the last changes. At lunchtime the inner yard and the garage were prepared for the final presentation by setting up tables and power strips. At about 13:30 students, research assistants and visitors being interested in the course came together to participate in the final presentation. One after another team introduced their prototype and talked about the idea the project is based on. Everybody was asked to try it out and to ask questions. After the presentation everything was cleaned up. Our advisors and we met again to consider the results of the course and to discuss feedback. This was the end of the Sketching with Hardware course.

Thanks again to our advisors, Hendrik and Sebastian and to all teams for this interesting and inspiring course. I think we all had a lot of fun and learned many new things.

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