At one point we decided to work with the open source platform Arduino to provide an open, accessible system. For our prototype, we started with a rather limited set of sensors (distance and sound), which we believed would be suitable for pointing out the presence of others as well as certain spatial qualities (like narrow or wide), thus attempting to cover both the social and physical conditions of public space. We also added an extra “input channel” that allows the wearer to give feedback directly to the system. Regarding the output we were going for subtle stimuli, namely sound via speakers and vibration. We deliberately avoided straining the wearer’s senses as portable technology often does, like attention-absorbing cell phone screens or acoustically isolating headphones. In other words, we were trying to incorporate ways of feedback that we thought would allow the wearer to stay aware of the immediate surroundings allowing engagement with them, as opposed to shielding off from them.

In addition to the immediate feedback provided by vibration motors and speakers, the device also stores the data, so that it can be used for further steps of visualization and mapping. Processing and routing is provided by an Arduino-Board, placed in an elongated section of the device at the upper back of the wearer. An SD-card module is used for storage. Arduino allows for the communication occurring between different sensor components and the data processing system.

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