Preliminary Projects – Wearables in the Wild

During our initial workshops we brainstormed about different gear and superpowers we wanted to bring with us into the field. The targets were for digital, wearable devices that could help us explore the environment or interact with other living creatures.

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We batted around ideas covering a broad assortment of topics, and these then we loosely grouped to find interesting categories that emerged. Some of these basic categories consisted of augmented means of navigating, obtaining the extranormal senses of animals, and new ways of capturing the rich multimodal experiences we were likely to enjoy.

Our group opted to try to build two initial devices from our assortment of interesting new ideas.

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embodied ethogram machine

A traditional Ethogram machine

A traditional Ethogram machine

The first device was an embodied tool for creating ethograms. Ethograms are long lists of observed animal behaviors, and they are usually made by meticulously logging the actions of the animals for a specific time period in a notebook or computer program. This process can get boring, and somewhat divorce the researcher from the world around them. By making an embodied suit, the participant could map actions and animals to actions performed by her or his own body. It could not only improve the researcher’s memory of what happened, but also make the experience more enjoyable and fun!

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The other device we worked to create before heading into the field was the Photosphere. Big arrays of cameras are gaining in popularity for capturing immersive environments (such as Google’s streetview). These are super expensive though. Matt Swarts had an idea to make an array of cheap photoresistors that we could wear into the field which could capture a 360-degree sphere of the changing light as we walked through the forest. These experiences could then be inexpensively re-created by mapping onto a dome with similarly placed LEDs.

 

Both of these projects were further developed when we got into the field.