Walk The Walk

The project began with the aim to find new ways to enhance communication between a person and his/her environment. The idea was to think and come up with ideas where a person does not have to do anything that does not come naturally to him/her to talk to his/her computer and/or another person.

The current situation is that, when a person uses the digital media to interact with others, they require the usage of the limited screen space that they have and an input that modifies their natural behaviour. Common input devices such as keyboards, joysticks, mouse etc. fail to use traits such as sitting, walking or even simple gestures such as pinching, swaying wrists etc. The idea behind this interface was to use these common interfaces and use them the way we are most comfortable in and to do this that come most naturally to us.

Stage 00: Keyboard Breakdown.
The process began with understanding the basic circuit of a keyboard, in common terms such as connections. Keyboards were stripped down to its very basic circuit where different leads, lead to different characters that were checked on the computer monitor.

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Stage 01: Ideas.
Next step was to use this understanding to keyboard circuit and change the interface into something very different from the regular keys. Physical activities such as roller skating, pouring water, generating pattern and movement were considered as a way to communicate. Finally the very basic act of walking was chosen as a way to interact.

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Stage 02: Interface.
Once we decided on using walking as the interaction, the interface had to be decided and a road was decided as the interface as it was the most obvious one. To implement it, we began to build foot pedals made of boards of two different widths and using small metal plates inside which acted as the switch. Testing was done with a rough setup to check it all the keys functioned properly and a simple program of changing colour blocks was used for that, as shown here.

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Stage 03: Walk the walk
In the next step we began with giving the foot pedals the look of a road by placing them alternately on a platform, which looked like a road. Also to use the act of walking as a natural interface we thought of programs that can be used to show that we are in fact walking on a real road. The following were the three final programs we made:

Footsteps: This program shows a road similar to our interface on the screen and as you walk on the interface, footsteps appear on the screen. The program simply simulated the act being done.

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PacMan: It’s the same game but with new keys to navigate so that you walk around the maze instead of only moving your fingers.

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BallGame: This program was a game where your objective is to keep the ball in the air and not to let it touch the ground. For this, four keys were provided, two for upwards movement, one for right-diagonal-up movement and the last one for left -diagonal-up movement. The position of the keys are as shown on the foot pedals in the image.

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This game would work ideally at an interface which would be larger than the user, so that the user gets a feel of being in a room where he needs to keep the ball off the floor using his feet on the board provided.

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