Colour Continuance

Colour Continuance

Figure 1. How Spectrometers Measure Light

Colour Continuance is wearable technology in a ring that periodically captures colour from the wearer’s life. Developed as a rechargeable ring with a small scanner embedded into the wearable, Colour Continuance uses a spectrometer to measure variations in light sources (see Figure 1), which are converted to a colour numeric value before being sent to the Colour Continuance app. The app displays the colours as both a pixel and a Bezier image. Over time, these colours are accumulated, creating a continuing colour history of the user’s life around them. Figure 2 demonstrates the physical appearance of the ring and highlights the more technical aspects. The intended experience of Colour Continuance is both physical and locative. However, it also pushes the boundaries of self-perception by highlighting the relationship between the body and time. Because it forms a relationship between the physique and the world it interacts with, Colour Continuance has the potential to shift both the wearer’s cognitive and social interactions. Extended mind theory (EMT) and social impact have implications within the Colour Continuance’s use and historical record. Looking at the project within the broader framework of current wearable technologies, The Colour Continuance draws upon other projects and technology. However, it appears unique in its interpretation of and output of data.

Figure 2. Colour Continuance Conceptual Ring Design

Utilising Hamamatsu’s ultra-compact and lightweight mini spectrometer (see Figure 3) housed within the device, Colour Continuance utilises an external linear image sensor to detect colour within its immediate vicinity (Hamamatsu 2021). In order to determine colour, the spectrometer measures variations in optical properties by using a small LED light centred within the spectrometer to illuminate a surface (see Figure 4) and measure the reflectance (Johnsen 2016). Technoethical design (TED) has been considered throughout the design process, resulting in the Colour Continuance app that gives the wearer control of how and when the spectrometer is activated. The user can programme the frequency with which the spectrometer scans. They can set it to scan at a specific time (e.g. on the hour), and they can control whether the ring vibrates or emits a slight tone when the spectrometer is activated. The combined experience of wearing the ring and seeing moments in time represented as a singular colour displayed on a device’s screen will result in a technological consciousness between the user and ring (Wikipedia 2021). Each moment is presented in the Colour Continuance app as either computer-generated Bezier curve art or as pixel art, simplifying moments in time into colourful lines and squares (see Figure 5). It is hypothesised, particularly with pixel art, that users will manipulate the data by choosing surfaces for the spectrometer to read, much like how people use fitness trackers to create Strava Art (Charlton 2020).

Figure 3. Hamamatsu Mini Spectrometer
Figure 4. LED Light Used to Illuminate a Surface and Measure Reflectance
Figure 5. Colour Continuance App Demonstrating Colour as Pixel and Bezier Images

The growth of wireless connectivity has seen a shift towards objects utilising the Internet of Things (IoT) with wearable technology (Blue Bite 2017). Furthermore, due to the advancement of technology and the ability to make spectrometers on a minute scale, wearable technology featuring spectrometers has seen recent developments. The Adrafruit Chameleon Scarf (see Figure 7) exemplifies how colour detecting sensors are used in IoT. Adrafruit utilises sensors to identify an outfit’s colour, then adjusts its LED lights, matching the scarf colour to the outfit (Adrafruit 2021). The visual colour changing aspect of Adrafruit’s Chameleon has helped inform the app design for Colour Continuance. Likewise, with its embedded technology, the Oura ring (Oura 2021) has influenced Colour Continuance’s form and overall integration of technology into a small wearable item (see Figure 8).

Figure 6. The Adrafruit Chameleon Scarf
Figure 7. The Oura Ring

Colour Continuance can be considered an actant. Actants are described as objects or materials that can interact with and modify other objects and materials from the environment around them (Flanagan 2014). The Colour Continuance ring functions as an actant by interacting with objects within its vicinity and scanning the object for colour before sending this data to the app. EMT encompasses theories about cognition and the mind, relating to the self and identity by focussing on how the mind interacts with actants as aids to cognition (Strong 2016). EMT assesses how internal and external forces influence intelligence thought and action (Duus, Cooray & Page 2018). In this case, the mind is the internal mechanism, whilst Colour Continuance is the external influencer. Rowlands (2009) extends this further to explain that the external world stores information, and the mind acts to retrieve memories, perceptions and deductions from these objects when completing tasks. Looking at EMT and memory in conjunction with external information body manipulation, Rowlands (2009) argues that wearable technology creates previously unavailable information, resulting in a human-technology hybrid. In this way, memory can extend beyond the individual mind, becoming a collection of social and technical resources pieced together to inform one’s memory and influence self-perception (Heersmink 2017). Colour Continuance does this. Colour Continuance creates a human technology hybrid, influencing how the user recalls memory by recording moments in time as colourful pixel and Bezier images. Providing users options to share their data, Colour Continuance adds to the collective memory of those who view the colour representation. According to Clowes (2018), the EMT hypothesis can be pushed further, concerning digitally-enabled actants, by looking at how they influence our cognitive processes through Material Engagement Theory (MET). In the same way that Colour Continuance will be documenting colours from the wearer’s life, MET is a cognitive experience theory that focuses on how technology extends human capabilities and preserves memory (Clowes 2018). Therefore, it can be concluded that Colour Continuance’s act of recording colour from a moment in the wearer’s life and sharing this as a visual element extends the human capabilities of creating memories.

Colour Continuance is wearable technology periodically capturing moments of colour from the wearer’s life. A mini spectrometer is used to measure light before interpreting this into a colour displayed on the corresponding app. As a wearable tech experience, Colour Continuance considers relevant technoethics, resulting in an app that gives the wearer control over how and when the ring interacts with the world around it. This is a cognitive EMT experience, combining internal and external mechanisms to influence the wearer’s memory and perception of self. Colour Continuance acts as an extension of memory, preserving moments from the wearer’s life.

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