Before I begin, yes the spelling of ‘weak’ in the title is correct; term three, week one has been a weak one for me. I’ll explain.
For our final term, we have been (so far), tasked with choosing a project that will take us through the following seven weeks. We could either choose a project from one of the eleven we completed in term one, and continue / complete / expand upon it; we could return to one of the briefs and try again or simply think of new brief on our own. The key phrase that stood out from this presentation: ‘this is now a seven week project, I expect this to be seven times better than the single week projects’. No pressure then.
Where to begin? Many people had instant clarity with their direction, picking up their favourite project from week one and planning to take it through to completion. Others had a project they had wanted to do for a while and created a brief to satisfy this need. For me, I had many projects I enjoyed from term one – Critical Design, Big Data, Defuturing – but, for the most part, I felt as though I had put a lot of effort into those projects and delivered something that was fairly complete. If I had picked up my Critical Design project from term one, I would have felt as though I was cheating myself a little, copying the research I had done last time around – I spent hours calculating the amount of coal and co2 used / produced for an iPad. Plus, what could I have done to expand the project? Make another box and p*** on it again (see the earlier blog to know what this means)? There was one exception amongst this and that was the Big Data idea, (again see earlier blog). I loved this idea, and really wanted to pursue this as a full length project, but realistically, I simply don’t have the skills to do this project justice. I have seen a project where someone used ferrofluid to make a clock – static data – and it took him a year! If I wanted to use this device to represent live data, I may still be doing it in year three!
What then, shall I do?
I feel as though I want to challenge myself and do something to be proud of. I don’t want to make a product for the sake of it – future landfill effectively – I want to highlight an issue, help those less fortunate, make a difference. From Monday morning when we had our briefing, to this afternoon (Friday), I have not stopped thinking of ideas. I have a list of proposed ‘solutions’ to problems of varying scale, (and some simply just to entertain kids!); that range from helping people with Parkinson’s Disease – someone has posted the exact same idea I’ve recently had, just two months ago – to addressing the issues of obesity and the quality of food we stuff in our faces. All have value and a solid grounding in reality, but nothing really seems to light a bulb above my head to say, ‘do this’. Stressed was not the word. Friday afternoon, and I was still generating ideas without a clear path to follow. Make a decision man! A weak performance, very weak, (see, this finally explains the title).
…’a clear a path‘? ‘Lighting a bulb above my head’? One of my ideas was to utilise a simple technology called thermoelectrics – this uses the transition and dissipation of heat through two different types of material to produce electricity – to generate light. This is the same technology used in the camping stoves that burn fuel to boil water, but can also charge a usb powered device. The heat from the fire under the stove heats the thermoelectric module, generates electricity and produces enough power to charge a mobile phone. My idea would be a lot more low key than this. I want to use the same principle of heating the thermoelectric module to power an electrical device, but I want to use the heat of the human body as the fuel, rather than the fire. Obviously, the body doesn’t produce as much heat as fire, but it does produce heat. Enough heat, I believe to power an LED or two. This principle can be seen in practice in various youtube videos as science experiments and litle products. Several people have made hand held torches that do this exact thing. There is a young girl who is all over google as someone who has invented this idea, and is the first to put it into a torch, but this is simply not the case. It’s just a story that the media have gotten hold of and the product has been promoted via that route. The idea is old.
My idea is to take this old technology, and use it in a head torch. Imagine a head torch that, when strapped to the head, illuminates LED bulbs without any need for batteries, chargers or cables. It just uses the heat from the human body to power the LED light. As long as the skin keeps on producing a temperature that is warmer than the outside temperature, then it will keep on shining. Indefinitely. This seems pretty cool if you’re out camping in the wilderness, but imagine if you’re in a developing country. A country that doesn’t have access to mains power. A country where, if you have no light, you can’t work to provide for your family and your children can’t educate themselves by reading. I’m not saying we’re curing the HIV epidemic, but it has the potential to make a difference to people’s lives.
So where do I go from here?
I need to make a brief – 200 words to be exact – outlining my problem, my proposed solution and my deliverables. At this stage, I don’t know what the realistic deliverables are going to be. I’ve never used this technology, I’ve only researched and applied the science, in principle. I’m not saying I don’t have faith in the science, but I’m definitely going to need a plan B backup, just in case!
Stay tuned folks, for another exciting episode of:
Term Three Blog: The BlogFather Part II
This time, it’s gonna be sketchy