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Posted in 2012

User Testing and Problem Solving

After the interview with Gaurav about his graduation
project
, I got a call from him one morning. He was nearing the completion of
the preliminary prototype of the product he was designing. I had to go check it
out and possibly help out in a user-test.

As I met him, Andy (another friend of ours) was helping him
out in resolving an issue. The guitar strap mechanism wasn’t holding stiff on
the waist-strap. We thought about the issue for a while and Andy came up with a
structural solution to add a metallic plate at the back so that the loads and
moments would be neutralized and the link would stay in place. This fit with
the underlying philosophy of his product and Andy and Gaurav improvised
a back brace to achieve that.

                                                         

                     Me trying out the product prototype                                          Andy and the improvised back-brace 

It was great to see an organic collaboration between an
Engineer (Andy) and a Designer (Gaurav) working towards a solution that
required knowledge and expertise in both fields.

I learnt a lot from these guys.

Thanks!

 

Tot Later

A Pleasant Encounter – A Day With the Guys at Kinetic Vision

After shopping for groceries on a lazy Sunday I was cycling
back home, when, in the middle of the TU campus, I ran into two guys holding
some pretty awesome looking filming equipment. I saw they had a slider and a
fancy tripod so I stopped and asked them about it. They were surprised that I
was so enthusiastic about what they were doing. They happened to be shooting
videos over campus as footage they could use in an upcoming project they were
working on.

I told them how I was very enthusiastic about film-making
and they were happy to hear that. We decided to meet up again at their office
and possibly talk about me working for them. I was super excited. That same day
I visited their office and we decided on me working with them during the week
to try it out.

                                                      

                  The Awesome Canon 5D camera at the office                        Niels and Rene- Getting the perfect shot 

During the week we took the camera equipment and walked
around campus shooting various clips of the university and its facilities. They
were working on a promotional video for new students coming to the university.
So, the video had to be comprehensive and consist of informative images.

The two guys were Rene and Niels and their company is called
Kinetic Vision. On that field day on campus they taught me a lot about getting
good footage on the camera and certain tricks and methodologies on how to shoot
videos professionally. I was in awe and learnt a lot from just that one day.

I hope to work with and learn from these guys and at Kinetic
Vision!

 

Tot Later

A not-so-alone Birthday

It was my birthday on the 30th of July. For the
first time in my life, I was not going to be celebrating it in India.

The 28th of July was a usual weekend night. A few
of my friends had come over to my new apartment to hang out and jam. One of
them, Nishant, was surprisingly late and I was wondering why he hadn’t made it
yet.

When he finally arrived, it turned out that he had brought
along a cake, chocolates and candles. It was Srivi’s, Vivek’s and Nishant’s
plan all along. I was pleasantly surprised and thankful that my friends had
made and effort to turn my 21st birthday into a small celebration.

The reason they had decided 28th as the date was
because Srivi was departing to India on the 29th. So it was a
mini-farewell plus birthday combined. I enjoyed it a lot and Srivi even had a
small present for me. It was some money she had crafted (origami style) into a
guitar. Fitting J

On the 29th night, minutes before my actual
birthday, I was sleeping when suddenly my doorbell rang. I dragged myself to
the door only to see Andy, Gaurav and Sid, waiting at the door. Their excuse- “You
don’t think we would leave you alone on your actual Birthday”. It was another
pleasant surprise, the second in two days.

So my 21st birthday wasn’t a huge party in India,
but I had two mini celebrations with close friends. It felt right.

 

Thank you guys!

Damn. I’m 21.

 

Tot Later!

Guitar Man – Gaurav Genani on his Graduation Project

One of my closest friends here in Delft, Gaurav Genani, has
been working on his graduation project as a Master’s student at the Faculty of
Industrial Design Engineering. We play in a band together and he’s one hell of
a guitarist. I was very intrigued by his topic of his graduation project. I
hope you guys will find it exciting too!

 

Q. So is it a graduation project or a thesis?

A. So how it works is that in the Industrial Design
Engineering Master Program there are 4 semesters and each semester is worth
thirty credits. So the final semester consists of a graduation project worth 30
credits. So strictly speaking, it’s not a thesis. But all other faculties here
have theses and Industrial Design has a graduation project. So the graduation
project will prove if you are capable and ‘good enough’ to graduate, like a
thesis.

 

Q. So what’s the graduation project like?

A. There are 3 main fields: Strategic Product Design, Design for
Interaction and Integrated Product Design. These three different fields have their own
demands. My field is Integrated Product Design and I have to demonstrate, through my
product, how the user perceives what works and what doesn’t in it.

 

Q. What’s YOUR graduation project about?

A. My graduation project deals with ergonomics of electric
guitars. I’m part of the ergonomics group so my graduation project should
somehow deal with ergonomics. So, I’m a guitarist and I wanted to bring that
into my work. I wanted to explore the injuries and the strains that revolve
around guitarists.

 

Q. It’s like your integrating your creative passion with you
work.

A. Yes, I’m a guitarist so the analysis was somewhat done in
my head already. Sometimes students get attached to projects that are
completely new for them like sustainability and they have to go through the
initial phase of getting used to the project. I could somewhat go past that
since I have an understanding of the subject. It allowed me to go into deeper
analysis of the project.

 

Q. So what’s the product you’re working on?

A. I wanted to explore how you attach the instrument to your
body. The most common and pretty much the only way for electric guitars is a
strap around the neck. But this has a lot of biomechanical problems. But as I’ve
found, it also turns out that you can attach it to your waist as well. So I’ve
made a belt and I’m thinking of an attachment to fasten the guitar to the belt.
So the link is based on zero-gravity tool holders which are used in assembly
lines. So due to that principle you don’t need to use much body strength to
hold it. From a musician’s perspective, the neutral position should not require
strain on any extra muscles. So the guitar should remain in position without
using extra force.  I’m currently working
on building it here using aluminium and steel brackets and springs. That’s the
main idea.

 

Q. So what’s next?

A. After building the prototype, I’ll be reviewed in a ‘Greenlight’
meeting. It’s a no go sort of a thing where it will be decided if I’m on the
right track to graduating.

 

Gaurav working on building the product 

Well, fingers crossed and I hope this works out well. Being
a somewhat of a guitar player myself, I think this is a much needed aspect of
the instrument.

Thanks For the interview Gaurav!
And I’ll be expecting the product once it’s one the market. Free of charge!

Tot Later

 

 

 

 

Robot Man- Aswin Chandarr on his Thesis

My company these days in Delft mainly comprises of my
friends who are in various Master tracks at the TU Delft. This is due to the
fact that most of my peers from my own faculty and Bachelor program have gone
back home for the summers. This leads to various conversations I have with my
older friends who are mostly completing their Thesis and are in the process of
graduating.

One such friend is Aswin Chandarr. He’s currently in the
process of writing his Master’s thesis and hopes to graduate soon. He has been
part of the faculty of Mechanical Engineering and is specializing in
Biorobotics. So here’s a little interview I conducted with him talking about
his Thesis and what it deals with and his graduation process. He was kind
enough to take out some time and answer my questions! Thank you Aswin J

 

Q. How would you describe your thesis to a layperson like
me with no background in Robotics?

A. To be short, I’d say it’s about bringing personal
robots in households. We have seen robots in science fiction films like Star
Wars etc.  But we haven’t seen robots
outside the laboratory. So the overall goal of my Thesis is to bring robots
outside the laboratory so they can be utilized practically.

 

Q. Don’t robots for households already exist?

A. There are some robots, say, like a dishwasher. But real
personal robots are still not there. We’re targeting at personal robots in
hospitals that will help patients in need or at airports to help lost
passengers and guide directions.

 

Q. So this is the general idea. What is your Thesis specifically
focussing on?

A. Object recognition. The whole group is targeting ‘perception’
as in objects, faces and sounds. My colleague’s thesis focuses on facial
recognition but mine focuses on object recognition. And this will be set in a
small indoor environment with everyday small usable objects which can be
grasped by the robots. For example if I ask the robot to grab me a can of cola
it will get me a can of cola and not a carton of milk. A lot of algorithms are
present that work only in laboratory conditions. For instance, you click a
photo of the object and then the robot will only identify that object. But my goal is to get the robot to
identify differences within similar looking objects as well. The problem with current
recognition is that it will identify the same object as two different objects
depending on what side it ‘sees’.

 

Q. When are you due with your Thesis?

A. Basically I’m done. I’m just writing the report right
now and my defence is on August 28.

 

Q. Do you hope to carry on with this research after you’re
done with you Masters here?

A. I’m starting my PhD from September and it will
basically be an extension of this current project. Right now the concept is
more robust than before but still not robust enough. So I’d like to continue to
that further.

 

Q. So did you guys actually make a robot?

A. Yes as a group we did and we went to Mexico for a
competition. The team comprised of four Master’s students doing their thesis on
it, three bachelor’s students and a PhD researcher leading the team.

 

Thank you again Aswin! It was great to get your insight into
the world of a student completing his Master’s Thesis. I’ll hopefully get a
picture of the root when it’s back from Mexico.

 

Aswin with his fuel- Coffee 

 

And there will be more of these interviews to follow!

 

Tot Later

 

Culture Center Again!

One of the good things about being back in Delft is the Culture Center. Now I have spoken about my love for the Cultur Center in different ways. But It’s nice to see that it’s open even during this period of the summer break.

I was reminded of this fact by my good friend Gaurav who is an excellent guitarist and is gradually progressing on to become a drummer as well. He had booked a drum room to practice there and,being a drummer, I had to go visit him and get back on the drums.

   

Gaurav Learning a new Trade                                                                             View from the top 

I used to visit the Culture Center at least 3 times a week but for the last month or so I haven’t been there since I was moving into a new place and then I had exams and then I went to Germany. So it’s a relief to be back with ample time to play drums finally! 

Since I will be starting a proper study schedule to prepare for the August exams, I’ll need some respite at the end of the day, and what beter way than to play drums?

Looking forward to more sessions at the Culture Center 🙂

 

Tot Later  

Delft- My Welcome to a Quiet Campus

It’s nice to be back in Delft. There’s something familiar
about it. I’ve been here for nearly three years now, and it’s home now.

Though, I noticed, when I got back, that there was something
different. The campus is usually buzzing with activity and full of students
walking around. But around now, it’s rather empty and isolated. That’s understandable
since it’s the summer break and most students have gone back to their
respective homes. The ones who’ve stayed back are either quietly completing
their Master’s Thesis or ones like me who have stayed back to try and study for
the coming August exams.

Though the campus is rather empty, it’s not as bad as I had
thought. This is due to the fact that a few of my friends have stayed back (to
complete their Master’s thesis). So after working in the day, they visit me and
we talk and hang out and jam and live our own little summer vacation in Delft
itself.

     

                                                               Empty roads on Campus- Not a common sight 

The campus is rather silent which is not always what you’d
want. But in its own way it’s a refreshing change and a completely different
perspective.

Gotta start gearing up for those August exams!

Tot Later

Journey Back to Delft- The end of a mini vacation

It was finally time to end my two week visit to my sister in
Heidelberg, a mini summer vacation in itself. 
Back to Delft! I was looking forward to it in some ways but would of
course miss the company of my sister. After all, family is family.

I booked a ‘hitchhike’ back to the Netherlands from Mannheim
(a city close to Heidelberg). I’ve done this countless times. It’s a very
convenient way to travel to neighbouring countries, especially for student. I’ll
give you an example. If you were to take a train to Delft from Heidelberg, it
would cost roughly 100 Euros. That is a steep price to cash strapped students
and isn’t always convenient. On the other hand, if you take a ‘mitfahr’ or ‘hitchhike’
to closer cities (since your exact to and from destination isn’t always available)
it costs a lot cheaper. My price for going from Mannheim to Utrecht was 25 Euros
with a ‘mitfahr’. And the train ticket from Utrecht to Delft costs 13 Euros.
All in all, this kind of a trip is possible in less than 50 Euros (which is
half the price of the train ride).

Other than the obvious monetary incentive, you get to meet
new people and always end up having interesting conversations along the ride.
This is of course possible in a train too, but a lot more likely when taking a
car (proximity and closed environment). I always like to guess what kind of car I will be travelling in. For
instance, my ride to Germany from Holland was in an Audi A4 and for some
coincidence my ride back was ALSO in an Audi A4. I’m not always that lucky and
sometimes the cars are rather generic and old. But hey, what’s to complain
about? It’s cheap isn’t it?

I’ll admit it’s not the most convenient way to travel. But
when you’re on a budget it’s perfect.

      

Waiting for my ride at the mannheim station                                   A little stop at the border of the two countries

My ride this time back to Delft was with a bunch of German
students going to Holland to visit their Dutch friend. They had also booked the
ride online and the driver himself was travelling to Utrecht. So, there was one
driver, and four young passengers. I would have to take a train to Delft from
Utrecht. However, as luck would have it, the three other German students were
later travelling to somewhere-close-to-Delft. So they asked their Dutch friend
(once we reached Utrecht) if he could drop me on the way, and he agreed! So the
second shorter ride was from Utrecht to Delft. It turned out that the Dutch friend
they were visiting had studied in a Technical Highschool which is at a walking
distance from my apartment. So he knew the roads and the way and was kind
enough to drop me almost at my doorstep! Now this doesn’t always happen, but
you never know! J

It’s good to be back in Delft. The familiar place was
missed.

The trip was enjoyable. You do encounter traffic jams and
road blocks sometimes, but hey, that’s life isn’t it?

Tot Later!

Exploring Hamburg at Sunrise

After the dizzying experience of meeting my idol in Hamburg
and watching a screening of his new film I somehow had to make my way back to
Heidelberg in the South of Germany. This was my first time in Hamburg and it
was the middle of the night (or early morning) and I couldn’t arrange to go
back until about 9 am.
I hadn’t slept for nearly two nights now but I was completely buzzing with the
euphoria of the encounter I just had. So, until it was an acceptable hour I
decided to walk around the beautiful city of Hamburg and take pictures. I had
luckily brought my little black writing pad with me. So I walked around, took
pictures, wrote, read, more pictures.

I found some similarities to Delft and get a tab bit homesick. But still it was a great city to capture, especially at sunrise 

         

Train Station at 3 am                                    Train tracks just before sunrise                              Slowly rising sun

 

                     

Sunrise over the river                                                              Shiny Disco ball! (at a sleeping market) 

 

Delft similarity 1- Ducks and Swans  

 

 Delft similarity 2- Graffiti tunnel (‘Denk’ in Dutch means think)

 

Tot Later!

A Pilgrimage to Hamburg- The Film

Here’s the second part of my encounter with my favourite film
director in Hamburg! (click 
here for the first part)

It was dark and there were about 20 people in. And there,
standing behind the last row, smiling, was the man himself. I made my way to
him and managed to blabber ‘Made it… from Twitter…’. He remembered and
wondered if I had actually paid 200 euros to get here. ‘Hitchhiked’ I said. How
I manage to hold my composure is still a miracle to me. My brain was having
mini explosions inside and I somehow managed to keep a straight face (not even
sure about that).

He
gave a short introduction before the movie began and warned us ‘not to try and
understand the film if it gets complicated because we won’t’. I just smiled
like a madman. The film was 5 hours and 20 minutes long split into 2 halves.
What a film. WHAT AN AMAZING FILM! My brain was blown to bits. I’m still trying
to pick up the pieces. It was an assault on all senses. I won’t say more. But
seriously. Guys, watch it. WATCH IT!

During
the break I managed to grab hold of him. One picture. Managed to blurt out
again ‘It’s an honor… great film… thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU’. He was
amazingly humble and thanked me for making it all the way there. Damn. Also
happened to mention that Nishant (my friend and writing partner) would
one day in a couple of years knock on his door with a bag of scripts perhaps!

Movie over,  spasms in
brain. He leaves, I thank him again. I have that perpetual ‘idiot’ smile on. He
disappears with Fatih Akin. Yep, he was
there too!

Zainab,
you’re my unsung hero and the greatest sister. It wouldn’t have been possible
without your help. Thank you. I love you.

    

Myself with Anurag Kashyap                                           The tiny ticket to the Gangs of Wasseypur Experience 

And
Nishant, sorry you couldn’t make it. I know we wanted to watch GoW together.
But unfortunately you were in Holland fighting something called Master’s
Thesis. But you know, one day we will maybe be making our own films!

And
now, I gotta find a way to get back to Heidelberg. Damn, the sun is coming out.

Gotta
go take some pictures! (and maybe wake up)

Tot
Later
J

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