AI on Creativity

CloudPainter, an AI robotic arm that is programmed to try to make as many independent aesthetic decisions as possible. Developed by Pindar Van Arman for the past 10 years, making this one of many multidisciplinary programmers, roboticists and artists to explore the AI's limits on the topic of generative creativity. 

The results of the generated arts are a hit and miss, which is not the main take-away point. This attempts to recreate and explore the meta-process of creativity would bring us closer to understanding the human creativity itself. 

More information on the latest development can be found on this link: http://www.cloudpainter.com/

3D Printing for Home Users

3D Printing never took off as predicted: 3D printers in everybody's home quickly turned from a vision into a trend that is losing its steam.

One of the reasons is that the process of designing, setting up, maintaining and post-processing are just too cumbersome for the majority of the adopters.

The last component to make the whole equation works - the AR mixed reality aspects to design 3D objects in 3D environment - never took off in time to fuel to the hype. Hopefully in the future when Augmented Mixed Reality has become more mainsteam and more accessible to the majority users, 3D printers in every homes might become a thing again. However probably it will take another 5-10 years for the tech to go its full cycle and arrive at everybody's homes.

It's a different story for the early adopters and the 3D printer enthusiasts, however. I for one happened to jump right in front of the early adopters of these 3D printers, to the point of becoming an enthusiastic hacker when the 3D printing became available to the pro-consumers. This Replicator Original, one of the first 3D printer kit made by MakerBot, is one of my trophies. Thanks Dave for donating this beautiful machine to me! The wooden body quickly gives it an antique even if it is just about 5 years old.

 The Original Replicator!

The Original Replicator!

Given my background in 3D CAD design, knacks for tweaking gadgets and tons of curiosity, I quickly got over the complexity barrier and got comfortable with adopting 3D printing as one of my tools in the shed.

Long story short, it finally come to the tipping point where I found 3D printing a bunch of pulleys are more convenient, cheaper, and faster than purchasing it either from the local hardware store or online!

3D Printed Pulley
Assembled 3D Printed Pulley
Final Work!

The pulley were in the end installed on a weighted boxes and secured 5-meters-long tensioned nylon rope for an art exhibition. 

Product Design 101

Preparing to give a presentation on product design for a hackathon was the best opportunity to gain fresh perspectives on my basics.

 Classic example on S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Diagram

Classic example on S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Diagram

I decided to open the presentation with a classic example of SCAMPER diagram of the design of a spoon. Design is an iterative process of idea generation and elimination. If brainstorming does the idea generation randomly by association, SCAMPER technique does it systematically. I proceeded to let the participants to get a taste of both before they dive into the hacking actions.

 Stepping out of the freezing hacking space, I asked the participants to take notice that everything around us are designed. Some are designed well, some are not so. 

Stepping out of the freezing hacking space, I asked the participants to take notice that everything around us are designed. Some are designed well, some are not so. 

 It helped that the hacikng space is surrounded by whiteboards. Both the participants and the mentors were happy to fill them with ideas, good points, critics, and feedback notes. I love post-its so much!

It helped that the hacikng space is surrounded by whiteboards. Both the participants and the mentors were happy to fill them with ideas, good points, critics, and feedback notes. I love post-its so much!

 This was my view when we are just starting. Empty white boards, sleepy people just waking up in the morning. Fresh starts!

This was my view when we are just starting. Empty white boards, sleepy people just waking up in the morning. Fresh starts!

 We the mentors did a little bit of data analytics on the topics and the stages of the groups. if we didn't stop ourselves, probably we would have ourselves came up with an app to optimize this process. 

We the mentors did a little bit of data analytics on the topics and the stages of the groups. if we didn't stop ourselves, probably we would have ourselves came up with an app to optimize this process. 

 Some of the creative works we did in the middle of our mentoring. 

Some of the creative works we did in the middle of our mentoring. 

Design Requirements

Designing, like a fluid, doesn’t flow in vacuum. Fluid behaves like how it is on earth due to a combination of gravitational force, pressure differences, temperature conditions and the shape of the earth rocks. Likewise, design needs a set of limits and rules to define its universe. Change the rules even a little, and the balance will be thrown off and we might not even live through to tell the difference.

If each design is analogized as creating a new universe, gathering the requirements is like defining its law of nature. There is no point in painting planet’s landscape if an added semicolon might wipe off the entire galaxy. I do not start designing until the requirement is set in stone, to emphasize how important the requirements are to a design.

My mentor once said, that understanding of the problem is one skill that differentiate good designers and the great ones. In my experience, a problem is unsolvable only because it is not understood properly. A completely deep and thorough understanding is like a fully defined river banks, which enables the design to flow so effortlessly to find the solutions at the end of the process.

Gathering the requirement is an art on its own, as the designer usually is not part of the universe that is to be created for the clients and their users. This is where the designer needs to have a far-reaching emphatical heart, paired with observant eyes to gather what would work for the clients and users. This is the core of user-centric design philosophy popularized by IDEO’s Tom Kelley. Personally, I think the understanding of the users should be done even before designing begins.

Requirement is also useful to separate the designed universe from the designer’s own preferences and styles, to ensure that the designer can create what is truly best regardless of his/her own personal choices. From this perspective, the act of designing is very similar to that of acting, where one needs to kill his own ego to fully take on the role of a hero, an assassin, a villain or even a demon. A very selfless profession albeit the highlight and glory given to the few celebrated ones.