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About

The Loaded Dice Travel Pack is a probe study aimed at expanding the scope of our bespoke Internet of Things Toolkit Loaded Dice for co-design on ‘the home’ and beyond. We distribute a small batch of Loaded Dice with fellow designers-researchers to 1) inquire, how other designers-researchers employ this ambiguous toolkit; 2) to gather a broad and culturally diverse range of research on ‚smart home‘; and 3) to enable designers-researchers using the probe to connect to each other through the probe.

Mission

The Loaded Dice Travel Pack is part of the five-year interdisciplinary research project Miteinander at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany and the professorship Human Computer Interaction at HS Anhalt. Miteinander creates places, tools, and methods for people to have a say in designing future smart technology in the context of the home.The team of Miteinander past and present are Albrecht Kurze, Leonie Witte, Andreas Bischof, Sören Totzauer, Michael Storz, Teresa Denefleh, Fan Zhang, Verena Traubinger, Mira Freiermuth, Kevin Lefeuvre and Arne Berger (PI). We are deeply thankful for the magnitude of support we received from Maximilian Eibl, Will Odom, Alessandro Soro, Aloha Ambe, Margot Brereton, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Dries DeRoeck, and Julia Weller. You can follow us on Twitter @arneberger and @miteinander_tuc If you tweet about this probe study, please use the hashtag #LoadedDiceGo

Getting Started

Frequently Asked Questions

Using the Loaded Dice Travel Pack

What is this Travel Pack? The Loaded Dice Travel Pack is a design research project, aimed at connecting international designer-researchers in the context of Internet of Things / Smart Objects / Future Technology through exploring, using, and appropriating, Loaded Dice Internet Of Things Toolkit. The Travel Pack contains one pair of Loaded Dice, and also six different inspirational tasks in the tradition of cultural probes.

What is Loaded Dice? Loaded Dice are two wirelessly connected cube-shaped devices that inherit the main interaction properties of the IoT through sensors and actuators. The first is a sensor cube with a different sensor on each of its six sides, while the second is an actuator cube with a different actuator on each of its six sides. Both devices interact with each other: the face of the sensor cube that shows upwards will sense and communicate the accrued sensor data to the face of the actuator cube that is showing upwards. The ability to reconfigure a sensor–actuator pairing with the simple turn of a cube allows for a tangible exploration of sensor and actor couplings and immediate prototyping of scenarios with sensory qualities.

General Advice We have taken all know measures to prevent accidents from happening when using Loaded Dice. However, both cubes contain rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries. Rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries are potentially hazardous and can present a serious FIRE HAZARD if damaged, defective or improperly used. By using Loaded Dice you are accepting the full responsibility for proper battery care and usage. Please make yourself familiar with the risks of Lithium Ion batteries. Also, take special care in using the thermosurface, because there is a chance of accidentally burning humans or things. Take special care to not switch on the thermosurface by accident. We do not take any responsibility for the potential danger arising from these circumstances and ask you to immediately return the probe to us if you do not consent.

Dealing and Handling

Keep Loaded Dice clean and dry! Loaded Dice exhibit a slightly rough and non-slippery surface which is porous and easy to soil. Before handling Loaded Dice, please clean your hands and the surface on which you plan to use Loaded Dice. Keep them away from snacks, chocolate and liquids. Please pay attention to our tips on cleaning and maintenance.

Avoid mechanical stress Loaded Dice are fragile. Please avoid any stress like dropping or severely shaking them. Our Loaded Dice are not made to be rolled. Mechanical stress can damage Loaded Dice exterior and fragile interior.

Avoid severe thermal stress! Severe thermal stress may damage the surface material, casing, the built-in Lithium Ion battery or the integrated electronics. Do not heat, freeze or expose Loaded Dice to sunlight or strong light sources for longer periods of time! Please also avoid exposure to fast changing temperatures, as this may lead to condensation and therefore water damage to the interior.

What to do if Loaded Dice got dirty or wet?Loaded Dice are made of Polyamide (PA12/PA2200). Depending on the kind of pollution choose an appropriate cleaning agent, e.g. water, mild detergent solution, cleaning alcohol, etc. Use a soft cleaning cloth with the cleaning agent and dab it on Loaded Dice to avoid smearing. After cleaning, let Loaded Dice dry before using them again. Do not use inappropriate chemicals for cleaning, as this may damage the material. Refer to the data sheet for more information. 

Technical Details

On which frequency do Loaded Dice operate? Loaded Dice use the license free 2.4 GHz ISM band.

How far can Loaded Dice be placed apart? The range is the usual ZigBee range of about 20m free range. Depending on the construction of rooms, the communication may range from one room to the next. Walls and other building components may influence the communication of Loaded Dice and reduce the communication range.

How can I see if Loaded Dice are (still) connected wirelessly or if they are out-of-range? The ‘Mode’ LED (green or blue) will signal the connection status of Loaded Dice. A constant light from the LED means the cubes are connected. Otherwise the LED will slowly blink (@ 1 Hz, 500ms ‘on’, 500ms ‘off’).

What are the specifics of the sensors / actuators? Note: All specific measures are given in metric system units (SI).

– Sensors –

The thermometer is a temperature sensor and detects infrared heat up to a distance of 15-20cm in front of the sensor. Mapping of values: Temperature is measured in degrees Celsius ranging from 0°C → 0 to 100°C → 24; using linear interpolation in between values.

The ultrasonic distancemeter senses the distance to an object using ultrasonic echo. The maximum distance is 1 meter. Because of the mechanical implementation, the farther an object is away the larger it has to be to be measured. Mapping of values: >100cm → 0, ~72cm → 1, ~3cm → 24; using linear interpolation in between values.

The potentiometer (turn-dial) measures the turning radius of its dial. Mapping of values:  The dial measures its turn radius from 0° → 0, 270° → 24; using linear interpolation in between values.

The sonic / acoustic sensor is basically a microphone and measures the maximum amplitude (value between two measurements) in a short time frame (~50ms). Mapping of values: ~0 → 0, max. value → 24, using linear interpolation in between values.

The luxmeter is a light sensor that measures the luminance.Mapping of values: ~0 → 0, max. value → 24, using linear interpolation in between values.

The passive infrared motion sensor (PIR) senses the motion of objects with a temperature different to the environment (e.g. humans) in front of the sensor. Between each triggering, the sensor has a latency of a few seconds. The maximum detection range is about 3 to 4 meters. Mapping of values: only two measuring values: ~0 → 0, else 24

– Actuators –

The LED ring-graph is an actuator that visualizes the measured value with its 24 LED lights.  It uses color to indicate the sensor from which it received its data.

Sensor | Measured Quality | Color Code
IR-thermometer | Temperature | red
luxmeter | Luminance | yellow
ultrasonic distance | Distance | violet
microphone | Sound / Volume | green
PIR motion detection | Heat + Motion | cyan
manual turn-dial | Position of dial | blue
battery – by powering on | Voltage | red (empty) to green (fully loaded)

The thermosurface is a Peltier element and communicates a measurement value via temperature. It heats up slowly, but can develop quite some heat. Usage of the Peltier element stresses the battery. The actuator will only activate upon touch using a capacitive sensor, signaled by the side LED lighting up. Please pay attention to not inadvertently activate the capacitive sensor, esp. when using the manual selection mode and having the Peltier element at the bottom. Note that continuous activation may lead to heat damage and is thus not advisable! CAREFUL! DANGER OF BURNING!

The power-LED visualizes the measured value by brightness. The mapping of values is non-linear.

The loudspeaker actuator is a loudspeaker indeed, and communicates the measured value through varying the pitch with higher values having a higher pitch.

The vibrator is a vibration motor actuator and signals the measured value through its vibration strength.

There is also a fan actuator, and the rotation speed of the fan communicates the measured value.

Can I modify the current sensor / actuator functions? Currently you cannot change the sensor-actuator mapping or parameters. Higher sensor values will always have higher or faster actuator effects. If this issue arises during your use of Loaded Dice, we are very interested in what you wanted to do.

Charging

General advice Loaded Dice use built-in Lithium-Ion battery packs ( Li-Ion, 1 cell per cube, 3.7V, 2600mAh, <10 Wh). Charging Loaded Dice requires a charging cable connected to the Mini-USB-Slot of a cube. You may use the included spiral cable or any other Mini-USB cable. Ensure that the charging happens at 5V. We recommend using a 1A charging current power adapter. Before their first usage, Loaded Dice have to be charged completely for several hours. We recommend 6 hours for the first charging process. An integrated protection circuit will protect Loaded Dice from overcharging and deep discharge.

We explicitly recommend the universal charging tips for charging devices with integrated Lithium Ion battery packs: Do not leave the charging device unobserved during the charging process. During the charging, place Loaded Dice on an incombustible surface and keep inflammable objects away. For transportation you may have to take special precautions regarding the state of charge of Loaded Dice. Please see our advice for transportation for more information.

How long does it take to charge Loaded Dice? Fully charging Loaded Dice can take about 3 to 6 hours, depending on the power adapter.

How do I know if Loaded Dice are fully charged? Unfortunately there is no indication on the casing. If you are unsure just wait 6 hours.

Expert tip: On the inside an orange LED signals the charging process. If the LED goes out the battery pack is fully charged. The LED can be seen through openings in the casing. In a sufficiently dark environment the LED might be visible through the casing.

How do I know the state of charge of Loaded Dice? When turned on Loaded Dice do a checkup of their state of charge. The Actuator cube uses the LED bar ring to signify its charge.

  1. Turn the Actuator cube so the LED bar ring faces upwards.
  2. Power on the Actuator cube in this position.
  3. After a few seconds, the LED bar ring shows the state of charge for 2s.

Since the Sensor cube does not have any sort of display it also uses the LED bar ring of the Actuator cube.

  1. Place down the Actuator cube with the LED bar ring facing upwards.
  2. Power on the Actuator cube in this position.
  3. Place the Sensor cube next to the powered-on Actuator cube.
  4. Power on the Sensor cube.
  5. The LED bar ring will show the state of charge of the Sensor cube for 2s on the LED bar ring of the Actuator cube.

The state of charge is represented by the number of LEDs lighting up and their color. A green color will signal that the battery pack is fully charged. A yellow color will signal that the battery pack is about half-way discharged. At this stage functional failure may occur and you should charge Loaded Dice. An orange or red color will signal that the battery pack is discharged. Please charge Loaded Dice before the next use.

How long is the operating time? Depending on the kind of usage and which sensors and actuators are used, operating time ranges between one and several hours.

How can I discharge Loaded Dice? The most reliable way is to discharge Loaded Dice by keeping them powered on for a long time. Please refrain from using the Peltier element to hasten the process because this may lead to severe heat damage on Loaded Dice, other objects, or living beings. Discharge the Sensor cube before you discharge the Actuator cube. This way you can control the state of charge as described above.

Transportation

General advice for transporting Loaded Dice Loaded Dice use built-in Lithium Ion batteries (Li-Ion, 1 cell per cube, 3.7V, 2600 mAh, <10 Wh). Loaded Dice use ZigBee radio modules which operate if powered on. If possible only transport Loaded Dice powered off and discharged.

When transported Loaded Dice should be safeguarded to avoid accidental power-ons. Depending on the kind of transport (e.g. flight luggage, postal service, …) official national and international regulations should be observed.

Transport as carry-on luggage. Please note the legal provisions of the IATA and the airline for transporting devices with Lithium Ion battery packs. In general this means you should place Loaded Dice inside your carry-on baggage. The IATA regulations give some general advice on Lithium Ion battery packs and travel. 

Depending on local regulations Loaded Dice should be sufficiently charged to demonstrate their function at airport security.

Postal delivery. If you send Loaded Dice via postal delivery, please provide a sturdy and safe packaging. If possible, insure the package (we value Loaded Dice at ~1000€ per pair). If you are not able to pay the cost for transporting Loaded Dice, please contact us for possible cost reimbursement before you send the Loaded Dice Travel Pack.

Please refer to the legal provisions concerning devices with Lithium Ion battery packs, esp. if the delivery involves aircrafts. While UPS has solid regulations regarding battery packs, keep in mind that your carrier might have their own special regulation.

UPS regulations (en)UPS-Richtlinien (de)

In case the Loaded Dice battery pack was damaged, the battery pack has to be removed before transport. If such a case arises please contact us before sending the Loaded Dice!

Defects and Loss of Function

I cannot turn on Loaded Dice Please heed our advice on fully charging Loaded Dice, esp. prior to your first usage. If the problems persist after charging Loaded Dice for 6h, please contact us via email.

Self diagnosis When powered on Loaded Dice do a self diagnosis. If the diagnosis encounters an error (e.g. a defect sensor), the accompanying LED starts continuously blinking fast (5 HZ). The accompanying LED is on the same face as the sensor / actuator. If the inner accelerometer encounters an error,  the green ‘Mode’ LED will start to blink.

The green ‘Mode’ LED is blinking very fast. What does that mean? There is a problem with the inner accelerometer, which is responsible to detect the side of a cube facing upwards.

A single actuator or sensor stopped working correctly or there are weird measurements. What can I do? Some sensors or actuators need more power from the battery pack than others. Fully recharge Loaded Dice and check if the problem persists. If it does, contact us via email.

Loaded Dice stopped vibrating when turning a cube. The vibration actuator does not work. What can I do? In some cases the motors responsible for the vibration may get blocked. A gentle knock from the side may unblock the motor.

I noticed physical damage on Loaded Dice. What do I do? Loaded Dice are assembled by hand with great care and a high quality control. However transport and usage are demanding and Loaded Dice may experience defects or loss of single parts. If there is any loss of function from single sensors or actuators, try to fully charge Loaded Dice. If the problem persists or you notice any damage, please send us an email at loaded-dice@miteinander.xyz. Don’t forget to state your location, so we can plan for the best way of repairing Loaded Dice.

There is a problem on the inside of Loaded Dice. How do I open a cube? PLEASE DO NOT OPEN LOADED DICE YOURSELF! We strongly advise you to not open Loaded Dice yourself. The cabling has been placed and soldered to make Loaded Dice as small as possible. Uninformed opening may result in damage of the cabling. If you suspect Loaded Dice have been damaged, please contact us via email at loaded-dice@miteinander.xyz. If you want to know more about the inner workings of Loaded Dice, please refer to our RtD 2017 article.

I followed your advice from this FAQ but problems with Loaded Dice persists. If the FAQ couldn’t help you and Loaded Dice still do not work properly after charging, they have to be repaired. In this case please contact us via email so we can plan accordingly how to proceed.

If you have to send Loaded Dice back, please always send both devices! Refer to the advice on transportation.

Contact Us

If you have technical difficulties, general questions, or just want to say »hi«, you can reach us at:

Prof. Dr. Arne Berger (HS Anhalt) & Dr. Albrecht Kurze (TU Chemnitz)
Mail: loaded-dice {at} miteinander {dot} xyz
Address: Technische Universität Chemnitz · Chair Media Informatics
09107 Chemnitz · Germany
The Miteinander group is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research under grant number FKZ 16SV7116.

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