Yes! We finally completed and submitted the video + the document explaining the core of our project – What, Why & How. This also means that this would be the last entry for my FMP blog and I would like to summarise the project and list out the major learnings from my project.
After all the lectures of the course, I have been very fortunate enough to implement the core parts from almost all the units that I had learnt and really understand all the concepts from a practical point of view. The major learnings include:
- Context & Theory of Interactive Media: The Tweeting Piano to me means something very different as a learning experience. When I joined this course, my understanding of “Interactive Media” was basically our iPads and iPhones and PCs. With this project and I could very easily relate to the first lectures from Sandra and relearn the basics of interactivity and the different types of interaction that we have tried to achieve with this seemingly new media based on Manovich’s principles. The use of Twitter laso created a huge debate within the team and the tutors too see how how interactive the medium is. And finally, by deconstructing the everyday QWERTY keyboard that we use for mapping it in onto the piano keys, we were able to understand how much we are influenced by the devices that we use and realise that it is quite hard for us to move away from the QWERTY format. Our devices have shaped us in such a way that when we close our eyes and try to type our name, our brain automatically draws a mental image of the QWERTY keyboard! This was challenging for us as we were trying a create a totally new keyboard layout which had to be usable and musical as well!
- User Experience & Usability - We literally created a brand new interface which was never before existed in history which is a true interactive experience with a piano. For this we also had to ensure it is usable for anyone coming and using it. We had to respect all age groups and our user group had to be as broad as possible. We had created a two row keyboard layout and all the typing and actions take place with the inputs coming from this. We spent a long time researching and ensuring the keys are laid out as easy as possible for a QWERTY keyboard based population and at the same time ensured that the key combinations when typing sound as musical as possible with the Pentatonics layout.
- Physical Computing: As the Technical Lead this was my main area where I had my chance to really explore Physical Computing and I really explored as much as I could in one month. I had the opportunity to really experiment with Arduino and Processing and learn up a lot of APIs which include recording, twitter4J and FTP Uploads. As this Technical Lead I am truly proud of what I was able to achieve, and this is all thanks to my tutors who have been really supportive throughout the entire project and my team members being very patient and understanding with me as I spent days trying to clear our different road blocks.
- Sustainability - We created an Interactive Medium from a 90 yearly abandonded piano which could have ended up in the dump and we were able to convert it into a fully digital machine! Even though this was not the main intention (we just wanted a piano!), this was a lucky coincidence that had happened, but I feel happy that we could give him a new life and soul, instead of dying a slow death. We ensured that we did not damage the piano in anyway and we made sure that we did not have to drill a single hole in this magnificent musical instrument.
It would be an understatement to just say that this was an exciting, challenging and complicated project. As I was in charge of the Technical Development, the task set out for me was enormous and despite my engineering background, I found each step getting more complicated. Everyday I was thrown with new roadblocks which were totally unexpected but thanks to exceptionally talented and helpful tutors, I was able to get through all of them. They have been exceptionally patient with our team and have done their best to ensure that we push the boundaries as much as possible and question ourselves in every step we took. We had a lot of debates and arguments over the decisions we took and I have learnt a lot from each member of my team. This has indeed been one hell of an experience and I am truly proud of being a part of it!