Content: Activation Assignment

“An environmental awareness group loves your container and wants to use it to educate people about their new product, a takeout container made of plastic from algae – a totally carbon neutral option. They want the activation to be peaceful, calm, and approachable for the general public: informative, but not overwhelming.  They have a garant to find a way to distribute it (if only through documentation) to all homes in the US.”

A billboard made of transparent tubes stands in the middles of the park. The tubes are filled with a green fluid in a pattern which spells out a name or logo of a company. Every minute or so, the fluid moves and is replaced by fresh fluid, again in the same pattern. The accompanying sign reads:

These tubes are filled with algae which convert sunlight into hydrocarbons and make plastics. Press this button to purge the algae and see the plastic created by the algae so far.

Pressing the button removes all fluid from the tubes and the pattern stands out as a thicker layer of plastic tubing. As the installation continues, the tubes will get thicker and thicker eventually becoming solid.

Package Design

I was inspired by DigiKey and Mouser shipping labels. They contain a lot of information, some of it understandable, most of it not. It gave me space to play with the packaging while adding important information like my name and website.


The label is designed in inkscape, printed and stuck to a DigiKey shipping packet.

Accessibility in Web Design- OpenROV Forum

For the accessibility assignment, I decided to look at the OpenROV forum. The project itself is large and multifaceted, but one would imagine that the forum, being relatively simple web design and meant for human interaction only (rather than attracting customers, say) should be accessible.


Using the SiteImprove accessibility checker, I found that the user avatar images have titles instead of alt text describing the user. There were multiple instances of low contrast text as well. Link text was insufficient to determine where the link leads in many cases and aria-label was not provided for many links.

SiteImprove-OpenROV Forum

JAWS ScreenReader

Image titles were enough to describe images instead of alt-text. While aria-labels were provided for some buttons they were insufficient to describe the button out of context. The button for following a topic was not accessible via the screen reader and keyboard alone.

Some improvements that can be made immediately are increasing the contrast ratio on low contrast text, adding more descriptive links or adding aria-labels to the links, and making all buttons keyboard accessible.

Holding Hearts – content review

Holding Hearts is a soft robotic demonstration from Rusty Squid, a soft robotic studio based in the UK.

Describe– The project is a red rubber-like geometric heart that is cut in half. There is a tube connected to the heart and into a box. People on the street are invited to hold the heart in their hands. They seem to enjoy the experience and are amazed or weirded out by it.

Analyze– After seeing the making-of video, it is clear that the heart is made of casted silicone, in a 3D printed mold. There are pneumatic ‘muscles’ placed inside the cast. The box contains pneumatic pumps that make the heart ‘beat’ at the same rate as the person holding the other heart. The overall process shows a mastery of craft in fabricating as well as a strong understanding of how the human heart functions.

Interpret– The piece aims to bring people closer together through a shared experience. The technology is just a medium.

Judge– The piece works as intended. But because it is presented to the audience without context, some of the effect is lost. It would work much better as a museum exhibit with accompanying text or graphics that guide the experience.

Rubrics of success:

The piece was produced by Rusty Squid, a studio specializing in soft robotics for advertising. As such, it needs to be evaluated as more of an advertisement than a person maker project. Some of the rubrics of success are enumerated below:

  • Generate publicity for Rusty Squid
  • Act as a demonstration of their capabilities
  • Deepen ties with Kings College London, for future collaborations