This walk was to take us through woods and across open fields before ending at the roofless, unfinished Elizabethan building, so we were curious to see what traces these different environments would produce.
We walked from left to right, and for each image you can click through for a larger version.
Overview of the route taken (click for larger version). I like how the tracts of rapeseed echo the yellow of the marks we made
The traces start and end at the Skylark Café. We were here quite a while getting everyone togged up, which is why the lines are really dense. They're long and all over the place because we were inside and the GPS data gathered was inconsistent.
The traces get longer as we enter the woods, and there is another cluster as we pause at the Complaints Choir's hut. These traces are from the bag that James was carrying.
Here are my traces from inside the hut. (Clearer if you click through to the larger version)
Inside the woods, the lines are quite long, but they get shorter again once we emerge onto the field with a clear view of the sky
Here you can see three different characteristic traces from walking in the fields: the first as we walk across the field of young wheat; then the lines decrease in length as we walk across grass; then the lines get longer again as we walk with the trees close on one side
And here we are at the end of the walk. We enter from the bottom of the image and, after pausing by the big oak tree and the moat, have an explore around the shell of the building. Then we sup some hot chocolate by the hut at top left before making our way down the path to the car park and sit in the shed whilst we wait for the minibus to arrive.
You can download the traces from the walk as .kml files and open them in Google Earth to have a closer look.
My trace (controlling the buzzing, in two parts because I had to change the battery): Part 1, Part 2
James’s trace (logging more frequently): Part 1
This was the first outing for the sashes and also the first time I had used my differential GPS set-up in a rural landscape, so quite a step into the unknown…
So many people had volunteered to wear sashes that there was none for me to wear, so my feedback on how things were working was mostly done by quizzing people as we walked or listening carefully to try and hear the buzzes!
Here is a screenshot of my traces from the morning overlaid onto Google Earth.
It was a long route, so the lines don’t really show up at this level of zoom, except for the ‘major incidents’…
Starting clockwise from the top, the first spray of lines is fairly apt, as this marks the spot where one of my GPS modules fell off! It was some time before I noticed, and a while after that before, retracing our steps, we eventually found it submerged in a muddly puddle. Many, many thanks to the lady (Karen?) who came back with me to help me look. She also donated some tissue for the clean-up and, miraculously, a few minutes later the module was dried off, plugged in and working again. Phew!
My lines disappear as we enter the Rockingham Plantation; not due to interference, but the slightly more mundane reason of the battery running out! Although this was spotted pretty quickly, it was some time before the logging commenced again and, since we were still hot-footing it to try and catch up with the rest of the group, we covered quite a lot of ground in that interval.
The sight below was a very welcome one and made that much sweeter by the flecks of yellow from the sashes and the cries announcing that they had suddenly resumed buzzing as I came back into range!
The above point also marked the transition of the walk from rural to urban landscape as our route skirted along the edge of industrial parks on the outskirts of Corby. If you click through to the original – and slightly larger – image you can just about make out that at this point the lines get a bit longer.
Each line represents where my two GPS modules think they are at a moment in time – one end of the line is one module, the other end the other module. Therefore, the more they disagree, the longer the line is.
Out in the open, the modules get a pretty much direct line-of-sight connection to the signals coming from the satellites – the modules calculate similar positions and the lines are very short. (The sashes would have given a few short, weak buzzes.)
As we make our way through the large warehouses and factories, however, the GPS signals are more likely to reach the modules by indirect routes, bouncing off the buildings en route. The extra amount of time this takes affects the calculations of position. My lines get longer and your buzzes get more energetic.
As our route bends around to the left, something happens to cause one of my modules to lose its fix altogether. Here one end of the lines are fixed to a single point, whilst the other ends follow the route we walked. This happens again as we turn off the road onto the Jurassic Way (I think I changed batteries here.)
So, an interesting set of lines that tell a story, although it wasn’t what I set out to find out about! The lines from Charlotte’s logging device tell that particular story a lot better. Below are some excerpts (click on the images to see the original on Flickr), or you can download the .kml files, open them in Google Earth and have a good ol’ poke around. Part 1, Part 2.
Overview of the route taken (no major incidents!)
Smaller lines get bigger as the group enters the dense woodland of the plantation
Close-up of the lines produced when walking through the plantation - here it's obvious that the GPS modules think they're much further apart than they really are
The large buildings of the industrial units also produce long lines
Clusters of longer lines show where the group paused under trees to take turns crossing the stiles
The tunnel under the railway track
Leaving and entering Gretton village at both ends of the walk
So, some nice results there – both expected and unexpected!
I really liked how the group looked wearing their sashes and the resulting traces tell some interesting stories about the physicality of the landscape(s) we moved through.
The basic principle was to have a group of people all linked visually through the wearing of the sashes, but also connected through a network formed by radio transceivers built into the sashes.
One member of the group also wears a microcontroller unit that analyses discrepancies in GPS data and broadcasts instructions to the sashes to vibrate differently in accordance with the results. In this way, everyone who accepts the invitation to become a member of the group is able to feel what the broadcaster senses.
Broadcast unit with GPS modules, data logger and XBee radio for transmitting to the sashes
Sashes and sash innards - ATtiny85 microcontrollers, XBee radios and pager motors
The use of coloured armbands to signify the wearer to be a member of (or outcast from) a particular group is something we humans have been doing for a long, long time. Some research into the subject quickly seemed to suggest that there wasn’t any colour that didn’t have a loaded history so I chose to reclaim my yellow on the grounds that it did what I wanted it to do.
The yellow of the sashes makes the group visible as they move through the landscape. This weekend we’ve mostly been moving through and around fields of rapeseed.
In this context of distributed senses, I’m also interested in a reference to the armband worn in Germany and Austria to signify visual impairment:
So, for the last few days I’ve been inviting people to walk with me as part of a group.
You can wear the sash in any way that seems appropriate to you – on your arm, on your wrist, around your tummy, over your shoulder, around your leg… I impose a few restrictions; mostly just that the radios are on the top and the vibration motors are near your skin. It’s nice if the yellow fabric is visible, but keeping the electronics dry takes precedence, so this weekend quite a few were worn under waterproofs!
Together we have been learning about what restrictions the system puts on us: how far radio waves travel; how radio waves do not go around particular corners/bends; how long batteries last for etc
Thanks to everyone who joined in and took part.
Hello, my name's Nikki. I make things happen.
My main area of enquiry is centred around interactions between people and place: often using tools and strategies from areas such as pervasive games and physical computing to set up frameworks for exploration.
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