how can we make furniture that removes us from the digital world?
LightBox is an experiment with light and cardboard that hopes to build intimacy and connection by mimicking the effects of a bonfire and forcing users to give up their phone.
On class in Wednesday, I sketched the direction I wanted to take my LightBox. I wanted to use the same base, but add functionality with the Arduino and make it feel more like a fire. In addition, following the same theme as my last project, I wanted the product to decrease phone use. Therefore, the user can only turn on the LightBox fire if they insert there phone into the slot. A user can not use the LightBox while using their phone.
Before building the object, I looked around for some inspiration. I liked the aesthetics and low to the ground nature of Japanese furniture, and made a Pinterest board of such items to guide me through the building process. Check it out here: https://pin.it/24FRt9b.
The process was done it two different steps. First, I coded the Arduino and then I integrated the system into the LightBox itself.
Right after class, while working at the BDW, I was able to figure out the circuitry for the Arduino. I found a project on Instructables that turned on a light when something got close to the sensor and copied the code and wired up the board (https://www.instructables.com/Motion-activated-light-with-Arduino-and-HC-SR04-se/). Then, I found another project that showed how to make a set of three lights flicker similar to a fire, and integrated it into the code base.
2. Integration with Box
With the code all set and ready to go, I taped it to a piece of cardboard and attached it to the LightBox that I had made in last weeks iteration. To improve on my old iteration, I added two walls of tape, which create a nice ambient light. I also added a compartment which allows the user to insert there phone and turn on the LightBox.
I am pretty happy with how the device turned out. The box feels like a fire and creates intimacy in the user’s space. Also, I was excited to see the Arduino come in hand and add some interesting user interaction. I think the product could be made more useful if it was bigger and brighter.
Changes from Prototype One
1. No Arduino
I got rid of the Arduino to make the experience fully analog. Depending on the Arduino battery / having the plug in the table didn’t make sense.
2. Phone Powered
Based on advice from Jack, I decided to use the phone flashlights to power the Light Box! This servers two purposes. One, the user is forced to give up their phone and use it as fodder to power the Light Box. Much like throwing sticks into a fire, the user places their phone in the box. Many users thought this was silly, as their phones would die with the flashlight on! To that I say, perfect. You don’t need your phone. That’s the whole point of the Light Box! I dead phone is a good phone.
3. New Materials
I changed from cardboard to acrylic and birch to make the table more durable. The cardboard inspired much of the box - the nostalgic feel and the delicate touch to the light. However, the design out grew cardboard and was better suited with stronger materials.
4. Experiential Design
For this rendition, I was very focused on the experience the user has when using the device. When someone builds a fire, they go through a methodically set of steps. They gather kindling, throw it in a pit, and slowly build the flame. My Light Box hopes to create an intimate routine with the user. I hope they will become accustomed with the sliding of the curved pans, the drop of the phone, and slow reveal of the glowing acrylic circle.
I don’t think this is a great product. I would probably never use it. Nevertheless, I think it is going in the right direction. We should be building things that force us to go backwards - to get rid of the technology we can’t keep our hands off of.