Walls Have Eyes goes to the Design Museum

We made this initially as a post for a presentation at work, but it doesn’t seem quite right for a work blogpost (though we will do one for that too) but it seems a shame for it not to be public.

The context is this: a fairly quick hack Andrew Nicolaou, Jasmine Cox and I made for Mozfest got nominated for Design of the Year 2015, and so we redesigned it so that it would last five months in place at the museum as part of their exhibition (we hoped; we’ve had some teething problems).

This was something that’s completely new to me and Andrew, though Jasmine is much more experienced at making these kinds of things.

This is the story of us setting it all up.

Jasmine took most of the photos.

As Andrew pointed out, it’s come out a bit like a Peter and Jane book.

We initially made Walls Have Eyes very quickly as part of Ian and Jasmine’s Ethical Dilemma Cafe
WallsHaveEyes5

The combination of electronics in innocuous frames

WallsHaveEyes6


and an extremely noisy dot matrix printer

WallsHaveEyes2


and an updating html output from the cameras, meant that it got the message across quite well

mozfest_image


Then we were unexpectedly nominated for the Designs of the Year, which meant we had to build something that lasts 5 months.


So we needed to redesign it a bit and improve the code

plan

It was going to be on a wall rather than in an ambient cafe environment, so it needed a trigger, to make the experience more immediate, like this ultrasonic sensor
proximity_sensor


It needed wired networking rather than wifi for reliability, and we needed to test it intensively

in_kitchen


so Andrew and Libby rewrote the code (mostly Andrew).

code

Andrew designed and laser cut some beautiful glowing fittings for the frames

closeup_frame

Andrew, Dan and Libby tested it at QCon, including creating a ‘surveillance owl’ fitting for the sensor

qcon

and working through a load of issues

issues

By thursday we had all the bits more or less working in the kitchen

at_work

On Friday morning we took it all to the Design Museum, realising in the process that we needed better bags

packed

At the muesum, this was the first time we’d put the Raspberry Pis in the frames

libby_brain

and consequently that took a while

andrew_libby_frames_baffled

jasmine

Then placement took even longer

drilled_holes

and involved drilling

drilling_jasmine

and pondering

libby_andrew_pondering

and threading wires through holes

threading

We didn’t quite get it ready by the end of friday and had a mad dash to get trains, punctuated by Libby taking pictures of Tower Bridge

tower_bridge

On Monday, Andrew did a very slow, stressful dash across London through the roadworks to pick up some postcards and sort out the networking so we could debug remotely.

Then on Tuesday we all went over to do some final tweaks

dusting

and debugging.

is_it_working

Then, finally, the party started.

serious_andrew_libby

and it was working!

man_looking

and people were looking at it!

three_looking

so we had a small beer.

laughing_libby_jasmine


and it works still…

near_complete


…although yesterday we had to do a little fix.

gluegun