Digital Periscope

Here are some details about our final project for Sensitive Buildings. Some more info to come soon.

Project by Michelle P Boisson, Kaitlin Till-Landry and Tak Cheung with tremendous help from Mark Breneman.

(currently this is how we’ve resolved our viewing apparatus for now.)

Our final group project for this class was to design something for the residential building at the corner of Columbus Circle, 240 Central Park South. We had unprecedented assess to the building thanks to the building’s owner(Jim) and manager(Peter). After a few visits to the building, which included the subbasement’s water heating to the tippy top of the roof, and meeting with a few residents we started to brainstorm possible interventions. One thing we were really impressed with was the vantage point on the roof. It over looked Central Park, Columbus Circle and surrounding canons of modern skyscrapers. We thought it was be a nice feature to provide this vantage point from the street level, making the building into a physical building periscope.

Our first challenge was connecting the viewfinder with the IP camera. We tried using Sean McIntyre’s and Deqing Sun’s wireless routers. We wanted to see if it was possible to link the IP cameras directly with the android tablet. There was no internet connection on the roof of this building and at first wiring seemed like a huge pain. We hit a lot of hurtles with networking and finally resorted to stringing a 150 foot CAT5 cable on the roof to the elevator room below.

We first picked a camera that would allow us to dynamically focus and move vantage points. At ITP we had several of these IP camera made by Axis so we borrowed one for this project.

The installation was a lot of fun, scary at times, since we had to climb to the tippy top of the building to install this camera.

Once we had the camera up, we could view it and control it remotely. Here’s a screen grab of us checking out the view.

Screen Recording of Roof Cam from Michelle Boisson on Vimeo.

For the physical form of the viewing device we wanted to keep the aesthetics of a periscope but we knew we had to work within the space. At first we wanted to have this be an optional indoor/outdoor platform. We realized later it would suit the building better being only an indoor viewing device. Below is the viewing sculpture we were aiming to build. A memphis-styled geometric form where handles and turning dials are in place to interface with the IP camera.

Ethnography Observation

Last week, we learned about ethnographic research, another type of observation exercise which much more qualitative than quantitative. We were to find a subject, visit their home and learn about how they view themselves, how they curate and display the items in their home. Michael Uzzi, Manuela Donoso Llamas and I posed as artists looking to take cues from our subjects lifestyle to build an art piece. Here is the presentation of our findings.

Simple Sensor Network

I worked Manuela and Tak to do the Simple Sensor Network exercise, from Chapter 5 of Building Wireless Sensor Networks. Task: create a set of inexpensive temperature sensors that are mesh-networked together to stream their data to a base station radio.

Focus Group Notes

On Oct 8, we had the pleasure of running a focus group with a few of the tenants from 240 Central Park South. Since our projects were going in the building, this was a great opportunity to learn about the people who live there, who they are, what’re like, what life is like in the building.

Here are some rough notes I took during the session:

they are really happy there
group 1 tenants were in the building <15 years strong sense of community smaller building is like a village 'my floor is like a family' one elevator caused community more kids and the pets are cause community shared areas, the outdoor suntanners enjoyed interactions with the doorman, human interactions be aware of not removing the human element in projects Gerry picked the tenants that would be attending Relationship with the park, biking, running, walking the dog, personal time Relationship with the neighborhood, history Old Columbus Circle: liked the old mom and pop stores Keeping a balance between the madness of the area and loving it. Address the coming noise, huge construction coming, 2 buildings, next door and across the street they felt that they were in the center of the world 'capsule' neighborhoods by floor bridging the gap between the tenants and the staff and being partners in energy efficiently open to artwork

XBee Doorbell

Manuela Donoso and I worked at getting our xbees to talk to each other wirelessly. Here is the result:


XBee Doorbell Exercise from Michelle Boisson on Vimeo.

Food as Art: Tator Tots and Kale

Over the weekend, for our sensitive buildings assignment, we were to read through How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith, and pick one exercise to do. I choose to do Food as Art.

Observation Presentation, Zuccotti Park

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