Harry McNamara

how to make (almost) anything

week 0:

I enjoy scuba diving. Floating through an underwater environment populated by entire alien civilizations is quire an experience for a human to have. Indeed, we were not designed to breathe underwater, so diving presents obviously challenges to human function. One of the less-obvious challenges is communication: it is hard (re. impossible) to talk to your partner with a regulator in your mouth, and normal human speech patterns are distored beyond recognition in water in any case. Instead, divers communicate with each other via pre-planned hand signals. These work, but can be difficult to use at a distance, or in low-visibility conditions.

silfra, iceland
me(left) in silfra, iceland

Of course, nature - particularly, whales and dolphins - have evolved alternative strategies to communicate underwater. I propose to develop a handheld diving peripheral - the ''Whalky Talky'', which will augment the human diver with the ability to communicate with each other as whales do (or, if she is lucky enough to encounter a cetacean in the wild, to try to communicate with it).

whalky talky mock-up
whalky talk concept mock

In its most basic form, this device will be a flashlight-like peripheral with an attached high-power speaker which the user can direct several discrete pre-programmed whalesongs with the press of several 'keyboard' like buttons. In a more ambitious embodiment, the keys would dynamically modulate a base whalesong signal, acting like a musical instrument with a more dynamic capacity to emulate cetacean communication.

A more ambitioud design yet could also take the form factor of a whale - with the buttons along the tail, and the speaker set in its mouth.

Project 01a
preliminary anitmony rendering of whalky talky
Project 01b
preliminary antimony rendering - alt angle
Project 01c
stylized rendering
Project 01c
humpback whale design w/ clunky buttons on the tail
Project 01c
sperm whale design with paraboloid buttons on the tail

An alternative idea (perhaps for 'make something big' week) also maintains a whale theme (I like whales). This one draws on the long history of whales/sea beats/Leviathan as a muse of wonder and natural awe in literal. It is a bookshelf with integrated pressure sensors that plays a whalesong whenever a book is placed upon or retrieved from the shelf.

Project 01c
whale's tales bookshelf concept mock