Final Project: Research Stage

What is the Big Problem (i.e. Affects 1 b. People)

Illiteracy of farmers, lack of government regulation/help, lack of resources, lack of access of information, poor transportation, poor markets, and climate change (unpredictable weather).

We need smarter agricultural practices to feed an ever-growing population. The number of farmers is declining, and climate change is becoming an increasingly worrying challenge that farmers are not fully aware of.

What is the specific problem (So this affects 1b people… where is a specific concrete starting point where you see the need most)

  • India: Farmer suicides due to multiple factors (debt burden, monsoon failure). NOTE: most recent dataset is from 2015.
  • Illiterate farmers unaware of progress with understanding of crop rotation successes, drought resistant seeds, use of green manure, etc.
  • The empowerment and equality of women in developing nations. In Asia, women produce 60 percent of agricultural products, and in Africa that figure is 80 percent. However, these same women also are not given equal access to credit which could enable them to afford quality seeds, fertilizers, and water pumps, increasing their production and providing more food to their communities.
  • 2017 Famine crisis due to drought
    • Somalia — hasn’t seen rain in months
    • South Sudan — violence has displaced individuals from fertile land
    • Nigeria — violence and burning of villages leaves people unable to feed themselves

What’s a link between that and the environment you’re living (i.e. “Something closer to home”)

In the US, it’s relatively easier to find farmers who generally do trust technology and are willing to try out new techniques. They understand the growing need for better methods, and find a personal economic benefit to embracing technology.

What types of 100B$ technology *might* be able to impact this (broad stroke – think crazy)

  • In the case of farmer debt, the blockchain could be used to figure out how this money is spent to figure out what’s not working, and potentially educate the farmers accordingly. Automated farming is also a potential tech that could be used.
  • In the case of climate change, machine learning could be used to alert the farmers of the changing seasons.
  • Drone Technology. Having drones transport produce to market and facilitate communication/transfer of goods.

3-5 links of resources that you have researched that specifically speak to you about this problem

Farmer Suicide, AgTech, US Farmers, Indian Farmers, Illiteracy, Food Crisis


Week 7

I think that the idea of basic income is interesting and has shown positive results to the countries it was implemented in. However, I see a moral/ethical problem in the West using African countries as their guinea big for a psychological test. But then again this “experiment” did have many positive results so my stance wavers.

Other readings point out the power of documentation in proving the success rate of certain projects. I thought it was interesting how a method taught in the classroom has the same importance at a greater level.

The Substance of the Body

In this sketch, I imagined my body as a structural space. Again, I used the bodies’ nodes to dictate how my space is structured. Each node acts as the centroid of each 3 Dimensional Voronoi cell that occupies my space. Hence, as the Kinect detects my movement, it is constantly restructuring the space based on the change of my node’s positions. I am constantly forming and redefining the structure of the space that I occupy.

User testing

My user reported that the sketch made her lose her perception of her body and think of herself as a space. She reported that even though generally she is more aware of her vertical axis since she is very tall, my sketch made her aware of the range of her extremities and explore herself horizontally and diagonally. She reported feeling flexible, free, structured, spatial, and playful.

IMG_3928 IMG_3926 IMG_3927


The Architecture of the Body

In this sketch, I alter the architecture of the body by changing the “nodes” that our body is connected to. In Kinect, the body is defined as node A (the head) which connects to the neck (Node B), then the left shoulder (Node C) and so forth. But what if we didn’t define the body in such a way? What if the nodes created intersections? What if they overlapped? How will this affect my sense of self or my body?

After testing it on myself, I felt that my awareness of how my body parts connected increased. I felt tight, enclosed, caged, interwoven, and captive within my own structure. I found myself moving in a way that wanted me to be free of my connections.

Week 5

Facing global development’s fear of failure

I thought this article was really interesting in presenting its western point of view of success. Coming from the East, my culture regards failure as something one should be ashamed of. If one has failed, then they had to do whatever they can to put on a façade or the impression that they had succeeded. Coming to the US at a young age definitely gave me a culture shock when I saw how failure is celebrated rather than concealed. I definitely see why we do fail fares in class now. I think that putting an emphasis on how we can improve on our failures is much more realistic and beneficial than looking at the 20% success stories.


I appreciated reading about this specific ambitious project, the reasons of failure, and the steps they took to come up from it. I think this is definitely what people need to read more of rather than only reading about major failures without context or reasons. Having this documentation on hand helps me think about my own project in this class and how it is extremely important to test with the end user, which is in our case (a farmer in a developing country).

The PlayPump: What went wrong?

Things that went wrong with the PlayPump definitely reminded me of how they did not follow the basic innovation principles. I see that they violated the first principle, which is to design with the user. They seemed like they did not understand their context very well and designed with lofty expectations. Another principle they broke is principle 7: “reuse and improve”. They did not use existing infrastructure or frameworks and merely relied on the idea that children at play would simply pump the water. To me, that definitely represents an ethical question of what they were thinking when they released this…

PlayPump ultimately sounds to me like it was designed by the lofty 1% silicon valley that does not understand the lack of resources and technology available in these countries.

A Blurry Vision: Reconsidering the Failure of the One Laptop Per Child Initiative 

“Careful analysis about the culture and necessities of the children needs to be done in the countries before shipping the laptops. Laptops need to be customized to local traditions and customs, so that they are appropriate in their new context.”

This article perfectly points out my frustration with technology built in the West. Technology here is built only with a western mindset. There are very few research/HCI/psychology papers written about how to design technology for different cultures. This then has led the world into a cycle of globalization and americanization. There are already signs of people leaving their own culture in preference of American culture due to the insensitivities of this technology. It is not only a developing world problem but also a global issue that I even see happening in my country.


Connecting Google Home with OpenBCI software to sense real-time EMG data. This data will sense a person’s “stress levels” and send it back to the Google Home which will then play relaxing music from that user’s Spotify account. View Github

How does it work?

Overall System & Transfer of Files: (Processing + OpenBCI Dashboard transmits real-time data from muscle sensors attached to my body -> data is sent to be logged into a file and evaluated based on the average of all FFT points so if above 0.5 threshold then stressed = True and vice versa -> File is sent to be displayed in browser -> Google API accesses stressed state status via URL endpoint)

Week 4

The Death Of Charities: Bitcoin & Blockchain Technology To Replace Them?

I think Blockchain and Bitcoin can absolutely revolutionize the way we donate and help people in need and honestly feels like society is behind is terms of this type of technology. The Internet has already altered several aspects of our culture and behaviour. I believe that this idea should have been implemented a long time ago as transparency is people’s number one concern when donating. At the end of the day, visual communication speaks at much greater length than word or written text.

M-Pesa And The Rise Of The Global Mobile Money Market

I like the idea that these online or mobile transferring services has the potential/ability to cut down costs, become transparent, and even reduce corruption. It also aids the developing world in sounding far more technologically advanced than how the media portrays conditions there to be.

Is M-Pesa essentially Venmo? But a Venmo created for specifically businesses and entrepreneurs in Kenya?

From shore to plate: Tracking Tuna on the Blockchain

“consumers often make buying decisions based on perceived product, “brand” and price. In fact, 30% of UK consumers report that they are very concerned about environmental and social issues, but are struggling to translate this into purchases.”

I wonder how this technology’s transparency will change people’s consumer behaviour if they could see how their money directly impacts slavery or child abuse?

Currently, brand names and advertising control our capitalistic market but what if this type of smart information can help guide people on making their decisions or that advertising can turn into providing ethical data rather than simply presenting a fake image.

Week 4;

Project: I wanted to understand the fundamental groundworks of how the Google search engine works so I attempted with creating my own! I have an “Evil” themed Twitter search page where you can search any query you like and it will access the Twitter API to deliver images containing your selected query.

Github Code, View Website Here

The Medium is the Metaphor:

Postman opens up this chapter with a somewhat pessimistic point of view. He recounts various anecdotes of how the American thinking has become trivial due to media. Politicians are praised for their looks or physique. Advertising has led us to decrease our attention span instead of gathering substantive information and knowledge.

Postman then continues to challenge our way of thinking and why we came to think this way. The medium is the metaphor which means that media communicates in ways that are indirect to how our culture is shaped: “Our languages are our media. Our media are our metaphors. Our metaphors create the content of our culture”.

What I liked about Postman’s reading is that it questions the fundamental questions we take for granted and it asks us to reevaluate mundane things we take for granted every day such as speech, and the written word.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace:

Similarly, I also loved how this article questions the walls, and governments we build around us. It points out that everything is man made and constructed and that the Internet has the ability to construct a new and free world where we can be ourselves. Looking at when this article was written (1996), I see why his viewpoint was idealistic. At the time, the World Wide Web presented all these new possibilities to our culture. However, after 14 years I have a more negative view of the Internet. The web has turned into large corporations collecting people’s data and feeding them back into the capitalistic society we have created. It has also created biased point of views by feeding people with content and information that their personalities would agree with. I believe that some structure or governing command is necessary to keep the Internet neutral. It is a powerful and dangerous vehicle that could alienate people from each other and contribute to the spread fake news and sources of information.