For my final project, I am interested in capturing and representing the passage of time until graduation.
I’ve experimented with several ways to represent the passage of time. The first approach I tried was using a row of LEDs that would light up after a certain interval. The limitations of this approach is that nothing will be happening between the time intervals and that it doesn’t allow for a very fine grained representation of time unless an exorbitant amount of LEDs are used.
The second approach I tried was using a 16 x 2 LCD display to show the number of hours, days, minutes, and seconds remaining until graduation. While this approach addresses the limitations of the LED approach, it has its own limitations. Firstly, while the numbers on the display change over time, the overall project is rather static and does not allow users to interact with it in any meaningful way. Secondly, changing the target time requires editing the sketch and this makes it lacking in user input, making it a kind of set and forget affair.
My goal for this project is to either change the representation of time so that it makes users more acutely aware of the passage of time rather than a process happening in the background or somehow make it interactive with user inputs.
To make my project more interactive, I decided to add a list of things I should do before I graduate and display the number of items remaining above the countdown. I used the official “101 things to do before you graduate” checklist from NYU for the list of things to do. I also added an LED that blinks every second in an effort to amplify and make more apparent the passage of time. However, I seemed to have damaged the backlight of the LCD panel after I plugged the Arduino into a wall outlet, as the display is much dimmer than it was before.
I made a corresponding web interface for users to check off items they’ve completed. The program displays an activity and the user can mouseclick to mark the item as complete or keypress to skip the item. The program sends the number of outstanding items to the Arduino for display above the countdown, giving users a sense of how many outstanding items they have to do before they graduate.
A limitation of this interface is that it does not allow users to check items off the list once they run through the program. Theoretically, a user would have to run through the entire list of items to update what they completed. My goal for the final project is to make a checklist where users can actually click on items to check off things they’ve completed, so they can come back to the page and update their progress. I also need to think about the end conditions of the program, i.e., what happens when a user completes all activities and what happens if they don’t complete every activity before the timer runs out.