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.


3D Objects, Creative, Interactive Design

Virtual Landscapes

So I had a conversation with a man working on his startup of making lives of architects and interior designers easy (in Layman’s terms). This led me to checking out Unreal game engine. Although I had used Unity engine before, this would be the first time I’d be using Unreal. No, I’m not counting the countless games I’ve played , like Mass Effect and others.

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It might be Dunning and Kruger speaking, but I think creating textures and materials seems fairly easy to me. Who am I kidding? I’ve only grazed the surface, and so far I’m really excited to see what more I can uncover with this.

Check this simple game level I created because of curiosity. Use WASD to move around, space to jump, and mouse to orient. Going beyond the edge of the level will make you fall down because I did not add invisible walls. Also, Alt+F4 exits the game. Heads up, there is music in the level, because I was bored.

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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Creative, Engineering, Interactive Design

Graveyard Escape- The Game controlled using Wearable Tech

The term project of my Costumes as Game Controllers class had an awesome team of 4. There were two more teams. My team mates were Olivia, Samvid, and Yuan (White)

While our instructor had given us a task of watching a movie among a few choices (Our team chose The Fifth Element) to learn about how costumes impact emotions. After watching the movie, we were asked to write down a list of emotions. All students wrote down the emotions. We had to pick one emotion, based on which we had to build an entire game that used costumes as it’s game controllers. The emotion we got was:


Yes, we were upset the we got that as our topic. We then had to do mind mapping, a way of generating words that somehow connect with “upset”

We came up with so many words that had even the slightest of connection with the word: sad, crying, suicide, murder, death, graveyards etc. There were also words that had nothing to do with the word: education, college, crows, gambling etc. The most tangential word we got was


How about making a game that begins sad and ends happy? No! That is too much of a cliche. Well, then there could be a factor of choice, begin with sad and end with sad or happy, deepening on the choice. That is what we did with our game:

 Graveyard Escape

 The entire game was made as a choice for one man who had to get out of the graveyard where he was trapped.

The story is pretty long and had to be divided into three acts. In the first act, the man was transformed into a cat, in the second, a crow.

The game began with a simple ritual of placing flowers in front of a gravestone, as in the image below. Conductive fabric was used to make this mechanism.

The game was played using a cat paw glove on one hand, and a black crow wing on another. The claw was used to attack the enemies on the ground, and the wing was used to fly. Below is an image of our instructor trying out the costume game controller.


Finally, the images of a user testing the game while wearing the costume (the game was made using unity):



3D Objects, Engineering, Interactive Design, Redesigning Something That Exists

Utility Wrist Band

While working on the term project of my product design class (Design Strategies), we were randomly grouped into teams of 3. Each student had to come up with a product, and then decide which product is the most viable, and proceed with it.

After thinking of the feasibility of product development, we decided to go with a product called walk clean.

The concept was that a wrist band is only a fashion accessory, but has potential to be more. It is worn by many people; imagine a world, where it could be used as a utility device!

Walk clean is a utility wrist band that has a hollow compartment inside it. The compartment (for now) is used to store gloves, mostly meant to be used by a person who does not want his/her hands to be contaminated.

The wrist band was made using 3D printers with the material TPU.

Two iterations were made: In the first one, the band was supposed to be two different pieces, joined in the middle. However, the flaw with this one was that it would not create a circular shape around the wrist. Here are the images rendered using Rhino.

The following images show the first 3D printed prototype of the product. The glove could be easily placed inside the band, but the shape could not be kept. Also, there was space only for one glove.

The second prototype was designed as an incomplete hollow ring. This gave the band a circular shape. The hollow inside meant not just one, but two gloves could be placed inside. A simple piece of acrylic was used to join the ends together to make a complete ring.

Clearly, the size is larger than a regular wrist band, and the outer surface looks unpolished (unlike the previous one). However, for about 80% material infill, the prototype is very sturdy. The lesson from building this prototype is that TPU is very flexible, and it is very easy to make hollow objects with it. This means, that a “human” sized wrist band can be made with a little bit more effort while 3D modelling.


Above is the image of all the things the prototype comprises of: the wrist band, a pair of gloves, two rubber bands, and an acrylic piece.
This video shows how the  second prototype o

f the utility wrist band works.

3D Objects, Creative, Interactive Design

Shields and Weapons

This one was a real fun project. My teammate and I were given a task of designing an armour, or something that goes with armours.

We decided to build a shield. We decided to make this game in such a way that we would not have to connect the adafruit Flora to a computer. Well, it still needed power to run, so we used a battery.

The shield on its whole, was made using EVA foam. It was embedded with bend sensors on the sides and center (in the form of rectangular pieces). The blue jewels were 3D printed using a translucent PLA filament on an ultimaker 2 extended+ 3D printer. The dragon at the center was made by raster and vector cutting black foam using the epilog mini laser cutters. Other materials used are the  silver acrylic pieces, cut using the same laser cutter, and some silver duct tape. The topmost jewel has the flora, and the other four only had the neopixels. (We also made an effort to hide most of the wires)



The game worked this way: Third is a Two player game. The player with shield has “X” amount of health, which is represented by keeping all the 5 neopixels green (including the one on the flora). The other player has to hit the shield. Each time the shield gets hit at the target (the bend sensors), the flora keeps a count of the hits. When the average of the total number of hits reaches a set threshold, all the neopixels turn red and the game ends.

Here is a simple video of how this woks, but without weapons. When the bend sensor was pressed, the green neopixels turned red. This only shows that the player can be defeated with one hit if the shield target was hit hard enough!

Engineering, Interactive Design

Soft buttons and Capacitive Switches

Adafruit Flora is a very easy to use. It is also easy to operate. In simple terms, Flora is an arduino that can be worn.

One of the first things that comes to mind while wearing electronics is that it should not be heavy and it should not be physically hard. Hence switches should be made soft.

Soft buttons can be made using foam and conductive tape. When two tapes are used, one acts as the conductor and the other has to be used as ground. when both touch, a circuit is formed and something can be triggered or activated.

Capacitive switches can be made with conductive fabric. This one is simpler than soft switches. A simple touch can trigger the switch! What I mean to say is that the fabric is the conductor, and anything that can conduct electricity is ground.

A simple test can be performed by connecting the Flora with NeoPixels. In my example, when the capacitive switch is triggered, the neopixels glow red, and when the soft button is pressed, the neopixels turn blue. Otherwise, they remain green. Here is a link to the working video.

The image shows the entire setup:




Blurbs, Interactive Design

Wearing Technology

Wearable technology is an interesting area of technology today. But most think that it is restricted to smart watches or fitness apps. But the truth is it has more application in medicine and engineering.

But this new section I that I am creating is not meant for any of those areas, but instead for gaming. I have come across an awesome class this term  and I will be building lots of fun prototypes that can be used in gaming.

I will be working mostly using the Adafruit Flora and Arduino to create costumes which can be used as Game controllers!