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Edmond Nolan University of Limerick, Castletroy, Co. Limerick email@example.com Eithne Brennan University of Limerick, Castletroy, Co. Limerick firstname.lastname@example.org Keith Houlihan University of Limerick, Castletroy, Co. Limerick email@example.com Joseph O’Sullivan University of Limerick, Castletroy, Co. Limerick firstname.lastname@example.org
In this paper the process and division of work undertaken in the development of our installation “Phone Booth” is outlined. The concept of Phone Booth was communication and was created with the aim of merging new technologies with traditional methods of communication. After numerous meetings and discussions, a clear scenario and product outline was created that we thought would be of interest to students, which was required as the installation was set-up in the University of Limerick. The paper continues by outlining our personal contributions to the project.
Phone Booth, installation, communication, ManMSP, Skype, API, Arduino.
In this paper the process and division of work undertaken in the development of our installation “Phone Booth” is outlined. It had been decided early on in the development process that the work would be divided out into four parts; each part relating to a software/ hardware that we would be using as follows: • Eithne: Arduino Keith: MaxMSP Edmond: Networking and Boxes Joseph: Phones
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s). CHI 2008, April 5 – April 10, 2008, Florence, Italy ACM 978-1-60558-012-8/08/04.
• • •
This paper will detail my own individual contribution to the project. Finally, the paper will outline recommendations for further development and finish with a brief conclusion.
more encouraging for the user to pick up the telephone. We had also considered taking the users photo as they entered the room and displaying the photo on a monitor beside the photo so that the user would believe that the call was directed towards them specifically. After many discussions and meetings, we agreed on a scenario that is outlined in the start of the related video demonstration.
The concept of our project was communication. We wanted to explore this concept in regards to encouraging conversation. The idea for the project stemmed from our interest in modernizing out-of-date technologies. We wanted to incorporate modern technology into an old traditional device so discussed old and new methods of communication: letters, text, skype, telephone, email, face-to-face conversations etc. We also considered what would be relatable and interesting for students to use as the demonstration of the installation was taking place in the university.
We undertook research in order to encourage and develop ideas for our final product. One installation that we found to be of particular interest was the “public twitter booth” that can be found in Skolkova, Russia (cf. figure 1). This installation combines a traditional phone booth with the modern social networking tool twitter. It was similar to the concept that we were focusing on: merging traditional and new communication devices. This device encouraged us to think outside the box and to explore innovative ways that we could combine technologies.
Originally we wanted to just use monitors and cameras to connect students in face-to-face meetings, but during further discussion we agreed that it would be
figure 1. Public Twitter Booth
My main responsibility for the project involved communication between the two telephones; the telephones would have to be able to communicate to each other wherever they are in the world with out any problems. Some of my other responsibilities included designing and constructing the two boxes that the equipment was to be stored in on the demo day.
Initially the project plan was to have these telephones communicating to each other from opposite sides of the college, this would have meant that they were on the same wireless network. As this was initially the case, the telephones would be able to communicate through MaxMSP. A patch was developed after a great deal of research. This Max patch would be able to send and receive live audio streams over a wireless network. It is quite easy to be able to send messages over a wireless network through udpsend and udpreceive; all that is needed is the ip address for the receiving computer and a port for communication. To be able to send a live audio stream over a network through Max was a bit more complicated. This took a large amount of time and plenty of fiddling around with the Max patches. This patch consisted of taking in audio on one computer through the ezdac~, the audio signal is then converted into a jitter matrix data through the jit.catch~ object. This jitter data is then sent to the jit.net.send object, where the receiving computers ip address is inputted along with a port to send the data over. Figure 1 shows this sending patch.
figure 1. The initial MaxMSP sending patch.
The receiving patch is the opposite of the sending patch. The patch receives the jitter data from the selected port through the jit.net.recv object. The jitter data is then converted back into an audio signal through the jit.release~ object. This audio signal is then sent to the dac~ object where the live audio signal can be heard. Figure 2 shows this receiving patch.
Skype incase Skype was to crash on one computer or incase connection was lost on one of the computers. AppleScript was wrote so that one computer would call the other user every 5 seconds, this also launched the Skype application every 5 seconds incase it crashed . Even if Skype were already in the call, the AppleScript would send messages to call again. Figure 3 shows the AppleScript code.
figure 2. The initial MaxMSP receiving patch.
Although this patch was good for sending live audio streams over a network, there were some latency delays that interrupted the stream. This patch also sent the audio uncompressed, which needed a high-speed wireless network. This patch could only work if the computers were connected to the same wireless network , . The next development was to figure out if this audio signal could be sent over any two different networks. Searching online for ways to do this through MaxMSP came up with some solutions. These solutions were quite complex, some involved setting up streaming databases. Skype application programming interface (API) was then suggested. This meant that Skype could be controlled though AppleScript. The author has never had any experience with AppleScript before, this made this task quite challenging. The Skype API was used for
figure 3. AppleScript code for the sending computer.
The receiving computer also had AppleScript controlling Skype, this AppleScript launched Skype every 5 seconds just incase it was to crash, this is shown in Figure 4. Automatic answer was also set on this computer; this was enabled through Skype preferences.
figure 4. AppleScript code for the receiving computer.
Design and Construction of the Boxes
The purpose of the boxes was to store all the equipment inside them. One telephone had to be placed on one box, while the other telephone had to be placed on the side of the second box; this meant that one box had to be taller than the other. A working drawing was drawn out complete with all the necessary measurements. From this drawing a cutting list was drawn up. Eight 6mm thick 2ft X 4ft sheets of MDF were purchased along with some 6ft long pieces of red deal. All the timbre was marked out and cut using a jigsaw. The box was then put together using the red deal and a number of screws. Figure 5 shows the completed boxes.
We should have implemented an interrupt into the arduino code so that the loop would stop, even if it was mid-ring. We found that during the demo day, users were inclined to interact with the dialer. If we had more time, we would have liked to incorporate the dialer into the installation, perhaps by getting it to trigger certain sounds to add to the novelty of the device. There was a lot of silences recorded into the buffers while users listened to hear sounds from the other end of the phone. More consideration is needed into how to either rid of these silences or use them in a more thoughtful way.
The installation was created exactly to the specifications that we had outlined prior to development. All aspects and features had been implemented as planned. The students in the building were very open to trying the installation on the demo day and we were very pleased with the feedback that we received. Common reactions to the installation included:
figure 5. The completed boxes.
Recommendations for Further Development
• We would have liked to be able to set up the telephones in two different locations like the public twitter booth . However, with security issues and issues with troubleshooting the two phones, we were confined to setting them up in close proximity of each other. •
“Who's this?” (in response to both recorded playbacks and live conversations). “Is this a real phone?” and “what's going on?” (their general confusion as to what the purpose of the phones was).
Confusion and curiosity were commonplace during the demo day and this appeared to encourage the users to interact with the installation and add to its overall novelty and entertainment. Overall, we deemed the installation a success in terms of both the reactions from the public and its general running.
 Wright, M., 2010. Public Twitter Booth: Ridiculous Russian Innovation Revealed [online] available: http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2010/10/05/publictwitter-booth-ridiculous-russian-innovation-revealed/ [accessed 20 April 2012]
 “Networking: Max talking to Max « Cycling 74.” [Online]. Available: http://cycling74.com/2006/10/23/networkingmax-talking-to-max/. [Accessed: 20-Apr-2012].  “uncompressed audio over a network with max/msp « Cycling ’74 Forums.” [Online]. Available: http://cycling74.com/forums/topic.php?id=15536. [Accessed: 20-Apr-2012].  “Skype Public API Reference.” [Online]. Available: http://developer.skype.com/public-api-reference. [Accessed: 20-Apr-2012].
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