Roopa Vasudevan

Sex Ed Mannequin

Sed Ed Mannequin is an interactive, educational installation built into a mannequin. The user will open doors and manipulate sensors in the mannequin to control a flow of information about sexual health.

Introduction to Computational Media,Introduction to Physical Computing

I will be carving apart a hollow mannequin into about 7-10 segments, each with a door that can be opened. Inside each segment there will be 2-3 sensors or switches which control a unique Processing sketch related to the theme of that segment (eg, proper condom use, pregnancy, knowing if you\'re ready to have sex, STDs, etc.) that will be displayed on a screen. Each sketch will be unique in content, utilizing trivia, video and images, or \"choose your own adventure\" style scenarios. The user will use the sensors to control the flow of information that the Processing sketch gives them.

I have been taking some education classes at Planned Parenthood this semester, which gave me the idea to do a sex ed piece for my final project. As far as the fabrication, my fellow students were extremely helpful as far as giving me advice and suggestions as to how to execute this project. I had done a similar sketch with the fading function for ICM, and decided to incorporate that into my piece utilizing serial communication with sensors and an Arduino.

My target audience is ideally young women -- teenagers through early 20s -- who are just beginning to think about sex and need information on the realistic implications of it on their own lives. However, I think this installation would be beneficial for a lot of people besides this specific demographic because a lot of the information is critical for everyone who is having sex, not just girls.

User Scenario
A user would come up to the mannequin and be greeted by the opening screen, inviting her to open one of the doors. On opening the door of choice, the Processing sketch will change to reflect the chosen theme of that section. The sketch will prompt the user to touch, push, pull, or otherwise manipulate the various sensors that are located inside the mannequin. Once the sketch has completed, the user will be prompted to open a second door to get information about a different topic, and will hopefully feel compelled to stay through at least two (if not all 8) sections.

I cut apart the mannequin using a dremel, then placed plywood panels inside the holes, on which are mounted 2-3 sensors each. The doors are controlled with magnet switches; the switch state will tell Processing which door is open and which section of the sketch the user should see. There are a variety of switches, sensors inside the mannequin, ranging from arcade buttons to slide potentiometers, stretch sensors, and a touchscreen.

As of right now, the mannequin is fully assembled. The code for all 8 doors is working to lead in to their respective sections, and I have sensor code written for one of the sensors that leads the user through the screens in the right way. I still need to implement the internal sensor code for the remaining sections, as well as decorate the sensors to make them relate more to the content, but I am confident that this will be completed well before the show. I also plan on mounting a monitor to the mannequin's chest so that the project will be a self-contained entity. A proof of concept video is included as the website link.

This was an incredibly humbling experience for me and taught me a lot about what is a realistic project to complete in 4-5 weeks. I also started off attempting to connect 4 Arduinos (3 of them hand-built and soldered to perfboard) in a master/slave communication setup. When that failed, I switched to an Arduino with more pins, but I had spent so much time on the microcontroller communication that my time writing the Processing code and fabricating the mannequin was short-shifted. I learned that sometimes you have to know when to move on to plan B, and that this project was probably a little too ambitious for me to undertake alone.

Skills-wise, I came out of this process feeling much more confident about my ability to hook up circuits and program a microcontroller to output serial information. I also feel extremely confident about my ability to get Processing to read the serial information, although I wish I could have spent a bit more time on it before presenting the final in class. This project has also inspired me to continue working on large-scale art and education pieces during the rest of my time at ITP.