Delivering Messenger Dogs videos


Very Short Stories and the Messenger Dog

For the end of his course, Matt Cottam invited his friends Timo Arnall from Oslo and Jack Schulze from London to give us a workshop about video story telling around the project we developed. The workshop was entitled “Very Short Stories”.

This happened during a weekend, an very intense weekend.

Timo and Jack are expert about prototyping experiences through videos and are really inspiring professionals, as well as very good teacher. I think we have been very lucky to have them at Ciid.

On Saturday, I sketch my concept for the video and set a little model stage to understand the flow of my plot and the spaces involved.
With a little bit of imagination, the furry cone represents the dog, the transparent cylinder the space where the displaced person is physically and digitally blocked and the wooden block represents the refugee camp. The final stage I set up is quite like this…

Timo recorded the footage and Matt helped me in the orange  props for the floor. Matt also acted in the video and moved the dog trolley. A big thank to them, really.

After my butchery style cut, Mary did a great job editing the pieces together .

Below the link of the video.


Here some really cute pics Matt took during this process.

Thanks to Matt Cottam for the pics again.

Hi, I’m a Messenger Dog

Here it is: this is the Messenger Dog, as you could come luckily across with in the school garden while me, Matt and Timo were shooting videos and taking pics.

After 10 days of development, we eventually got to try the uniform on 2 different dogs and have some fun with them. The dog owners were really happy to help and they also understood quite soon that the uniform was about “a special corp of dogs”, maybe used for rescue or some kind of aids. I actually think they were curious to have their dog to be part of the project!

Maybe it is good now to have a little and clear summary of the project.

Messenger dog is an informal messaging system for disastered cities.

Soon after a disaster happens, such as an hearthquake, family members and beloved ones could get displaced in the city and in different refugees camps, being not able either to reconnect physically due to the collapsed roads or to phone each other due to the network not working.

In those very first hours of fear and displacement, people may just want to send a message to their beloved ones only saying that they are alive and safe, hoping the same for them as well.

Messanger Dogs can help in recording those messages as video message and delivering them to the refugee camp they are assigned to.

Messanger Dogs wear a particular uniform to identify them, equipped with a device that can record messages, store geolocation of where each message was taken and the time as well. Messanger dogs are trained to sit when in front of a person, so as soon as one of them meets a person, it sits, allowing the accelerometer inside the recording device to trigger the interface software to start. In our prototype we used an IPod running Nada Mobile from Tellart to simulate the device.

The Messanger Dogs are divided into team, assigned to different refugee camp. At the  end of their work, they can come back to the camp, where volunteers will download the video and make them available to the people to browse among and watch. In this way people could get to know a familiar is fine before the formal communication would be restored.

Here you can find a video we developed together with the teachers Matt Cottam, Timo Arnall and Jack Schulze during their weekend Very Short Stories workshop.


In the following pictures, you find the very first dog wearing the messenger uniform in Copenhagen (always recruited at the school garden). In the sequence of pictures, you can go through the all interaction with it and the different screen of the display.

The first messenger dog in Copenhagen, recruited in the school garden

The side of the uniform, with the screen and the keypad

The logo of the messenger dog corps

As soon as the dog meets a person, it is trained to sit. The accelerometer in the I Pod detects the sitting position and triggers the interface software to start

Typing the recipient name on the dog keypad, in this case to my sister Silvia

Recording a video message for my sister, hope she has recovered in another camp

Ready to send it

Now the messenger dog can deliver my message to the refugee camp

The diagram of the Messenger Dogs flow in the collapsed city

Thanks to Matt Cottam for the pictures of the white messenger dog.

Developing the Messenger Dog concept

Welcome back to Matt Cottam, teacher of the second part of the GUI course.

He came here with his expert in technology from Tellart, Brian Hinch, in order to make us learn how to use an IPod or IPhone to prototype graphical user interfaces, using both Dashcode and Nada Mobile, the last one being a particular set of tools developed at Tellart to interact with your dashcode application onto either an IPod or IPhone.

The brief Matt gave us was really interesting and challenging: thinking about the hearthquake in Haiti, assuming no internet, phone network is available, we needed to develop a project for that particular situation using the IPod or IPhone as our platform. Of course, we needed to think about it not as a hyper connected phone, but as a hackable device full of sensors and technology that we could misuse or twist.

The way of thinking at the IPod or IPhone in this way quite suits me, since that was the first time for me to touch both of them. I know, I come from the Ice Age…but I am like that. 🙂

Anyway, the first assignment from Matt was to team up in group and come up with a scenario.

My team was composed by Mary and Li. After a brainstorm, we agreed on focusing on one particular idea among the many: the Messenger Dog.

Here it is hour first draft of the scenario. We would develop it further during the course with Matt and Brian.

This is day 1 after the disaster happened.
There are no streets to go through, no way to make phone calls and basically it is impossible at the moment to communicate with people that are displaced in other places of the destroyed city. When the disaster happened, Laura was in the city center and fortunately she recovered in the open space of the main square with other people, where after a couple of hours she received help from the rescuers. Since the disaster happened, Laura has no news from her sister Silvia who at the time of the earthquake was at work in the next district. Laura is really worried, she hopes that nothing bad could have happened and would like to get in contact with her as soon as possible. The Messanger Dogs can help Laura to send her message and spread it among the displaced persons in the city and the camps, hopefully reaching Silvia.
The Messanger Dogs wear a particular uniform to identify them and a collar with a device that can record video and audio messages, and tags messages with the geolocation and time when the message was taken. The Messanger Dogs are spread around the catastrophe area both to collect messages from persons met casually along the way and to let them browse the messages for a message addressed to them. At the end of the day, the Messanger Dogs come back to their assigned camp, where all the video and audio messages are downloaded to a device accessible to all the people in that area. Volunteers carrying materials from one camp to another will also carry and spread the messages among the camps, so that a bigger number of people could get to see those messages. When Laura sees the Messanger Dog in her camp, she decides to leave a message for Silvia, saying that she is alive and safe in the camp. When the messages get to the main camp in the district where Silvia is located, she will get to see the message from Laura.

Defining the concept

Sketching the messenger dog uniform

Dog uniform pattern cutting

Thanks to Matt Cottam for the pics.

Scriba. My first project of GUI

What’s a GUI?

I have started to understand what this word means at the beginning of january, for the course of Graphical User Interface.

The first 10 days of the course was held by Frank and Timm from Germany and I was in group with Ishac and Pedro. We decided to develop a concept of GUI for a personal letter writing software.

At first, we started our analysis with a big brainstorm about what makes the experience of writing a letter so personal, when done on traditional media such as paper. It is not only the writer and the content shaping the letter, but also the sorrounding (sounds, physical location) and time. Writing a letter is a ritual where you have to go through different fixed steps and the freedom or choices you take inside those steps make the outcome really personal.

We tried to translate the experience of the ritual to the digital letter in Scriba.

When you write a letter, what makes it personal is not only the content you transfer with words, but also the way you go through the different steps to build it. It is a process that allows to capture beyond the media you are writing on, thanks to the influences that the environment around you and the time impress on the content and your physical outcome.
Scriba aims to make the user experiencing the same process while writing a personal letter on the computer. On one hand, Scriba allows you to focus on your letter by isolating you from your computer environment. On the other hand, it gives space to temporal traces by a navigation bar that counts your writing sessions as dots and by leaving empty spaces as time passed by between them.
Scriba records the environment around you by analyzing the light and the noise. If it recognizes you are writing in a place that doesn’t help focusing, the lines will start to become irregular and bend.
Writing a letter implies reducing distraction and dedicating time to the person you are writing to. This is why even leaving traces of your errors could be precious for building the message of your letter.


Working with Pedro and Ishac was really a nice and rich experience. I had with them a very deep hands on learning of Illustrator and Flash!

Thanks to Pedro for sharing the pics.

HBP_Human Bee Pollinator

The HBP corp has its uniform now. Me and Jacek finished it before Xmas and presented it in Copenhagen during COP15 at the KlimaForum during Ciid Guerilla Intervention.

For that event we had to make a poster as well.

To make a little summary of the project, here you find a little description of scenario and final wearable outcome.

“Beecoming is a project that focuses on the problem of bees colony collapse disorder. Nowadays bees are dying due to neonecodine based pesticides used in agriculture, pollution and climate change . In 10 years it is estimated that bees might be extinguished on our planet. We may not be aware of it, but bee pollination is one of the main stone of the ecosystem we live in and our food supplying. 1/3 of our food depends on bees impollination: when bees get from a flower to another one in order to extract nectar (the bee food), they actually pollinate that flower that will finally turn into a fruit or vegetable of other kinds,  forage for animals included.
We decided to work on this future scenario when we could run out of the bees and people will have to turn into “human bees” to collect pollen and spread it among flowers. People could become new “bee” workers and also exchange pollen between themselves to improve the genetic exchange that  former bees used to do before naturally.
Beecoming consists of the uniform for the HBP corps _the future human bee pollinators.
It consists of a dungarees with HSP tag identification and a working apron with 3 different pockets where pollen brushes are placed. The human bee pollinators will take out the brushes to collect pollen from the flowers and store it in the pocket.
To pollinate another plant with a pollen previously collected, the human bee pollinator will extract a brush and swap it on the new flower.
Thanks to the the “wrist component” of the uniform containing an RFID reader, the human bee pollinator could match the best pollen for each plant by scanning first the plant and then the pollen pocket. A green or red light will appear on the wrist component display to communicates which pollen is better to use in each case.”

Thes were 3 samples of trees/flowers pollen that we carried to the Guerrilla Intervantion to simulate trees and plants the HSP worker could find in the field.

This is how the HSP worker scan trees/plants in the field and pollen in the pocket to see which one matches with the plant.

We used RFID tag both in the pocket and in the little trees/plants simulation bags.

Finally me as the first female HSP

The making of the human bee uniform