2D designs, Engineering, Interactive Design, Optimizing 3D Prints

Heat Maps

It’s 3.14! Happy Pi Day!

A heat map is a graphical representation of collected data, where large data points are plotted in such a way that it represents the concentration of those points through colors. The color scheme depends upon the choice of the user. Normally, a darker color represents higher density and a lighter color, lower density of the data points.

Using heat maps often help identify the flaws within physical objects (if one knows what to do and how to use it), and movements of mouse cursor, or density of visual concentration while eye tracking in interactive displays.

This makes them very useful in user experience and usability studies to understand why people choose certain parts of a website or a software, and where they have their eyes fixed while using it.

Below is an blurred image of a website (left) and its heat map generated (right) while I was testing it to improve its usability.

Below is a time lapse video of heat maps generated by scanning hundreds of layers of a 3D printed object using an X-ray CT scanner for one of my projects, which has something to do with optimizing 3D prints. More on this another time.


2D designs, Creative, Engineering, Interactive Design

Circular shapes

Circle― the most beautiful 2-dimensional shape, the infinite sided polygon…

No! No it’s not; it’s a limit curve of a regular polygon say the math nerds.

Alright, I agree. But as long as we agree that circular shapes are very pleasing to the eyes. Any object with curved corners looks great― phones, mugs, rings. Even throughout history, circular shapes have influenced the progress made by humanity. I will stop now and get to the point.

So, while designing the Elmentory Atom, I had the option for making these plug and play devices in any shape. Atom itself has 4 types of units. Originally, the plan was to make each unit a different shape. But after doing some research, it was evident that different shapes would be a bad idea. Circular was the best choice.

But, because we were using tiny electro-mechanical components to build them, each unit could not be perfectly circular, but had to have flat edges to accommodate for the rectangular connectors. I don’t know if you can see them― each of them is 35mm or less in diameter― in the images below, but the black connectors align perfectly with the colorful boards.

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Apart from the shape, the other important feature was the symmetry of each device. Each component was placed in a particular spot on the board to make the board look symmetric at least along one axis.

Finally, the most important part (I’m writing this last instead of first because of the title) was to make sure the devices were easy to use. Each of these devices can be connected to one another. But if they are connected wrong, it would not work, yet neither will it harm the user, i.e. the child playing with them.

Each device had a name on the top, and a specific color based on how it operated. Some inspirations were taken from common objects such as traffic lights to specify the color. The bottoms of the devices were mostly white, and helped the child identify if they were connecting the devices correctly.

This project was fun, because I had to literally think like a child to see what could go wrong. Fortunately, there were also several usability tests made with real kids during development to improve the product before releasing it.


2D designs, Creative, Engineering, Interactive Design

Holy Diver

With Halloween coming soon, I though about posting a wearable game that my classmate Sam and I made some time ago. It is called Holy Diver.

The principle is that a demon is throwing fireballs at you, while you can catch them and throw it back at it, or defend yourself by joining your palms. However, if you get hit thrice, it is game over!

The game is very small, and it’s prototype can be downloaded here.

The game ran on unity. Well, the song Holy Diver by Dio was meant to be played in the back while playing the game, hence the logo on the costume. It was one of the first time I used a laser cutter on fabric. Laser cutters can be handy in making burned effects on clothes. A costume was made for the game, using Adafruit flora.

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2D designs, Creative


Laser cutters have lenses which are responsible for focusing the laser onto the surface of the material to be engraved. Unfortunately, someone did not use the Epilog Fusion M2, and broke its lens.

Oddly, the lens is a yellow and has a shiny coating on it. When the lens broke, it looked like a spider trapped inside some kind of a crystal.

It looked like amber, but not fossilized. Copal is a resin from different trees, and just like amber, it can have small insects or objects trapped inside it. However, the difference is that copal is not fossilized, and hence cheaper. I made  a simple design using illustrator so that the clear acrylic only melts instead of getting engraved and leaving a residue after the engraving. I also made vector cut circles, so that I can used nuts and bolts to keep the entire thing within the two pieces of acrylic.

And thus, a “copal” was encased.

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2D designs, Das ist kein bier

Das ist kein bier – 6

This is going to be the last of the “Das ist kein bier” series of post, because I am not in Peru anymore, and have returned to New York. It was a fun trip while it lasted.

One of the more important things when considering to own a brewing company is to have a unique identity of its own. When my sponsor decided to name his company, I felt indifferent towards the name. Initially, while making the first two  beer labels, I just randomly did some inept illustrator work on the company name.

That is until, my sponsor finally decided to register the company name. Things become different once a name is registered. A proper logo is required; a logo which can immediately put thoughts of the amazing quality of beer brewed at the company. And there it was… the logo, in the name itself.

final logo

Unfortunately the initial two label designs were subpar and bland. My sponsor appreciated this new logo and its inclusion in the newer label designs. He plans to use it in his ventures. Hopefully, it will help to establish an awesome identity.



2D designs, Das ist kein bier

Das ist kein bier – 5

This is a small post that I wanted to show because I got an opportunity to make some beer. I had read about using different kinds of fruit in beer, making them, well… fruit beer.

While in Peru, one of the more vibrant fruits are the Peruvian groundcherries (aguaymanto) or cape gooseberries. Despite the usage of cherry or gooseberry in the name, they are neither of them. These are succulent little yellow round fruits, which are more closely related to tomatoes and tomatillos. Usually used to make jams and sweets. However,  I decided to use it while making beer. Below is an image of the fruit in a small jar, the same (calculated) amount I had used while brewing beer.


I had used exactly one gallon of water, which is also the volume of a carboy, and also the amount of beer I was allowed to brew… because of a reason. Unfortunately, I completely forgot that  water evaporates when boiling, and ended up with just about 3 liters of the fermenting liquid. Well… this was probably that reason.


I specifically did not use a new design for this one, however, I had seen an interesting beer bottle design used by a company called candelaria, mainly, red ale, pale ale, golden ale, and witbier. I was adamant in searching for these bottles. But they were not available in the market. So this was the best thing I could do: buy the beer, finish them all (the manner is irrelevant), sterilize the bottles first using dish soap and then using an acid-based no-rinse sanitizer, and fill them with my newly made beer. (I can get adamant about things sometimes). And since this is home brewing, and also not a commercial business, there is no question of infringement.


I also made a new label and named the beer as cherr-y-manto (I think it is much more creative than using generic names like witreat or stoutnut, got from the minds of a manager). This was a good first brewing experience for me.

Cherr-y-manto fb

2D designs, Das ist kein bier

Das ist kein bier – 4

This is a post on two beers made using the same malt (Vienna Malt), which in reality smells like biscuits. The primary difference between the twin beers is the type of hops utilized while brewing.

The flowers from the hops plant are usually referred to as… hops, are a very popular additives to beer., The chief reason for adding hops is to provide flavour and stability to a beer. The first variety of hop used is called spalt, which is a German Noble hop and has a delicate spicy aroma. The second type is an American cascade hop, which is quiet citrusy.

That being said, I was on the verge of designing a new bottle design for the beers, but unfortunately my sponsor decided to go with the first one for one of them. However, I convinced him to use the newer one for at least one of these two beers.

The two designs of bottles are next to each other for comparison. Both have the same volume, but the new one is taller with longer and slimmer neck:


The main difference between the two types of beer is the type of yeast used. The first beer is called Autumn Vienna, it uses a specialty yeast called safbrew-33. Using this yeast gives a spicy and a significantly low amount of fruity flavour.

The second beer is called Winter Vienna. It uses a more common fermenting yeast called safale US-05. This yeast produces higher amount of esters which are responsible for the stronger floral and fruity aroma of many beers including this one.

After doing an accurate measurement using a hydrometer, and letting it float in a graduated tube filled with the liquid, both the beer have the same content of alcohol; the bitterness is 48 in both the cases.


The bottle designs were made using Rhinoceros and the labels using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. They are named as such to mark the almost end of winter in the Southern hemisphere, and the almost beginning of autumn in the Northern hemisphere.