Internship at Metalworks – Week 8 [13 July to 16 July 2015]

Notice: I’ll be taking a hiatus from this series, from the 20th July onwards till the 10th of August, as I’m going to Boston for 2 weeks! I will be updating this blog but in a different capacity, to document my explorations not relating to my internship.

This week, was really all about the one project I was tasked with. As it makes sense for me not to reveal the inner workings of the project, I’ll talk about some things I’ve explored during the week, and something I did for MakeDay!

Monday: Project / Make Day
Tuesday: Make Day / Project
Wednesday: Project
Thursday: Project
Friday: Hari Raya!

MakeDay

At Metalworks, we get one day a week to do anything we want to do, preferably non work-related and something creative. We call it MakeDay. The possibilities could go anywhere really, from remote 3D printers to wireless chargers. Some choose to learn a new framework like Ruby on Rails or learn to work the arduino. A previous intern did Arduino Pong, which was pretty cool.

I decided to do something a little different and try out computer graphics manipulated real time. My initial inspiration was this video made by Adrien M and Claire B, where they created this IDE called eMotion. Their main focus was on particle manipulation, and you could come up with really cool interactive graphics from it. I also realised that they had Leap Motion integration so I took liberties to have fun with it. This was the result:Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.55.35 PM
T
his was just a basic example that explored the different motion brushes to see what kind of effects you could pull off. An important thing I noted was how different effects had different dependencies. They don’t work with all types of particles, and the parameters required to activate them are very different. To get the right strength for the effects is one thing, to use it for a good artistic purpose is another thing. I’d like to explore that a little further. Also, I don’t think I’ve explored the full potential of leap integration just yet, but somehow I guess the leap is quite limited. My goal would be to mimic the above video but with different graphics.

I’ve always wondered if you could script certain effects specific to certain hand motions, for example if you swiped right, the particles would react to the speed at which you motioned at. And there is a way to do that with the scripting feature on eMotion. I haven’t gotten a chance at doing it, but hopefully I will get my chance at it when I’m back from Boston 🙂

Project

I’ve been working on a retail project for the past few days, and it entailed tons of iterations. If anything, I’ve begun to question a bit more than I used to. I kept quiet most of the time because I wanted to observe how things ran, and now I’ve done so, it’s time to start asking questions. I went to clarify the position of the company, what our main value offering is, and what kinds of opportunities are we looking out for.

After 8 weeks here, I think I’ve got a good idea. Credits to Rollen, we do 3 main things: Prototyping, Production and Pitching. Prototyping is providing a proof of concept to our clients. Production is making a product worthy of going public. Pitching is really the initial phase of putting the idea out there for the client. This week was about prototyping. But how do we add value with prototyping? We find new ways to use technology and show how it can be done. We do the necessary research to check for its feasibility and hack away at a very rough design in 1 – 2 weeks. If the prototype we are doing already happens to be implemented elsewhere, then we work on pushing it further ahead by adding a few features that our clients have not thought about.

Modularity

While building the prototype, modularity is really important to troubleshooting. It helps you identify the problem, isolate the parts that aren’t working, and fix them without affecting the other parts. It is a basic principle in software development, but equally applicable in electronics. It saved me countless number of hours spent resoldering, or testing connections in places I shouldn’t have been checking. And the idea of plug and play makes changing broken components or even just putting together the prototype much more easy on the eye. It’s always stressed in my computer science classes at Yale-NUS, but it’s only when you encounter it in real life that you really appreciate the countless number of reminders that the prof drills in.

But yeah, that was this week, and Boston here I come! Going to play around with this Haskell eBook that Rollen passed to me, and it’s time to do a review in functional programming. More thoughts coming soon 🙂

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