MPM17B- Intro to Research Experience

As part of the Experience and Design fair, my group and I created our own station called DaLights. It is a fun, exciting, and artistic activity where the participants can draw with light and create their own images individually or in groups.

Please visit this blog my group and I have created to summerize the outcome of our DaLights experience.


Fortunes in a Bottle

This idea was inspired by Message in a Bottle and Kau Cim. Kau Cim is a Chinese traditional fortune telling practice that requests answers from a sacred oracle lot (More information: demonstration video and Wikipedia). Instead of writing a message and sending it into the ocean in a bottle, many slips of fortunes are here for the user to extract. I thought this idea was simple but meaningful and fun.

I created 53 long individual strips of paper each containing a different fortune. Some are about love, prosperity, career, and some are just plain random. Making sure the text are not visible, I painted the outside bottom half of the water bottle the color of the ocean. I also placed some fabric softening sheets into the bottle to give it an extra superstitious boost. Just in case it wasn’t obvious enough, I made a sign that says “FORTUNES IN A BOTTLE” and used a rubber fish to hold the sign up.

I think my single action, EXTRACT,  was very obvious. When Georgie saw what I have created, she didn’t hesitate or stalled to think what she had to do. She instantly pulled out a fortune from the bottle and read it. She didn’t seem too pleased with hers, so she pulled out a few more.

Phase 1: Questions

I asked Steve some general questions to get an idea of what he likes. I expanded further into detail after hearing some of his answers to my questions.

– What are some of your interests? (games, hobbies, tv shows, etc)

“Definitely games, started playing PC games more, but occasionally I’ll play PS3. For TV shows, I only really watch How I Met Your Mother, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and the occasional anime series that someone else recommends. Hobbies are pretty much just sports with friends whenever the weather is good. Things like soccer, cricket, skateboarding, and football.”

– What are your favorite games? (current or old,currently playing or played)?

“I’d have to say Bioshock and Red Dead Redemption are definitely my favourite games, but others such as the Half-Life, Assassin’s Creed, and Zelda series all come pretty damn close.”

– What are some of your favourite foods? 

“That can be the simplest question or the toughest for me. It’s definitely chicken teriyaki BUT ONLY when it’s made by this one chef in my neighbourhood.”

– What are your favourite colors?

“Colors? I’d have to go with red and orange.”

– Is it okay if it was just a decorative piece?



Phase 2: My Gift for Steve

I decided to create a decorative miniature desktop computer for Steve. From his answers to my questions, I can tell he is a gamer and plays a lot of really positively reviewed games. So I created a monitor, a keyboard, a system unit, and a mouse. I also used a picture of his favourite game, Bioshock, as the wallpaper for the fake monitor. I know he said his favourite colors are red and orange, but I didn’t think it would suit the design.

Originally I planned on creating a dragon or a character from one of his favourite games, but I didn’t have the time to design something complex. With a huge workload from other classes, I thought a simple and fun piece made with basic geometric designs was the best way solution. The final product is not as polished as I hoped, but I think it’s badly constructed.

I didn’t know what Steve’s reaction would be. There isn’t any deep sentimental value to this creation so I am not expecting any grand reaction. I presume Steve would think it’s funny, and cute? since it is so tiny.


Phase 3: Giving the Gift

Steve’s reaction to my gift was positive! He smiled and thought it was cool and funny. He complimented on the high quality image of one of his favourite games. Instead of just taking a simple picture with it, he sat down and pretended to use it. It was really funny considering we were in the middle of a busy hallway where many students were passing.

I’m not sure if Steve will keep my gift. It might not be the best decorative piece because it is made of paper and it is very fragile. It might have been better had I used thicker paper to create it so it would be more sturdy. To be honest, I don’t really mind if he doesn’t keep it haha.

Here is a short virtual tour of the restaurant:

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Ryan Chao, Simone Roth, Kelly Truong and I decided to visit the newly opened Panera Bread restaurant located at Yonge and Gould Street. Prior to our visit, I’ve heard a lot about Panera Bread and saw many pictures of their food looking mighty delicious on Facebook. Since it is right next to the Ryerson campus and none of us have ever been to it, we decided to check it out and do our assignment on Panera Bread.

The restaurant’s sign was very big and features their signature font and logo, which is very memorable and consistent with the rest of the franchise. Although we went in the afternoon when it was bright, there noticed there were many spotlights to ensure the sign will be properly lit and clearly visible at night.

As soon as you step into the restaurant, the pleasant smell of freshly baked bread fills your nose leaving an instant great impression. All the food were nicely displayed in baskets and on the counter. All the items and prices were listed on huge signs that suspended up high behind the cashier. The bright ceiling lights shining onto the food made them looked extra delicious.

Upon entering the place, we found it extremely awkward how the line extended to the entrance. As soon as you open the second set of doors, a line is right in front of your face. It was not very busy when we went around 11AM, but I can imagine how crowded the place can possibly get during lunch hours and how the line arrangement can become a huge design flaw. You will stuck at the end of the line right at the door, can’t really see the beautifully displayed food with 100 people in front of you. If you are eating alone, you basically lose your spot in line if you decide to get a closer look at the food. It was even more awkward how they decided to place the computer for customers to register their myPanera card right beside the line. We got our myPanera cards after purchasing our food, so are we suppose to line up again just to register our cards? They should’ve placed the computers upstairs, or somewhere on the main floor where it will not be blocked by a line of people. If their intentions were to have customers register their card while waiting in line, it will be your turn to order by the time you fill in your name and email since the computer is close to the cashier.

There were at least five cashiers working at the time we went, which was weird because it wasn’t very busy. But it did sped up the overall ordering experience which was good.

The staff were very friendly and approachable. They greeted all their customers with a enthusiastic ‘Hello!’ and ‘How are you today?’ before asking for your order. After the usual exchange of $$$, they gave out free myPanera cards which offers many benefits the more you visit Panera Bread. However, not everyone got one (NOT ME!)! I guess it’s because I only ordered an iced coffee and didn’t meet the minimum price requirement.

I was expected something similar to the iced coffee from Tim Hortons or McDonalds, but she gave me an empty cup and pointed at the counter behind me. It was really awkward because I had to serve myself! I was completely clueless because I didn’t know how much cream and sugar I’m suppose to add to emulate the usual taste of a McDonalds / Tim Hortons iced coffee. In the back of my head, I thought “how much of the $2.99 will I get paid back for serving myself?” but also “hey I can make it just the way I like it”. So after spending what seems like 5 minutes figuring out all the ingredients displayed on the counter, I finally made my coffee the way I wanted and sat down with everyone else.

The overall space is very cozy and gave a very ‘home’ feeling. The monochromatic brown interior gave the space a really nice warm hue. There were an adequate amount of seating on the main floor, and a lot more on the second. There were tables from small 2 people booth seats (which I have never seen before) to large 8+ people rectangular tables. The seats were very comfortable and relaxing. One thing we all hated was how excessively bright it was. There were a million (we counted) light bulbs and some dangled so far down it felt like we were eating during an interrogation (not even exaggerating!). It was completely unnecessary with all the natural light coming in from the large windows on both floors. We also hated the weird artworks hung everywhere. They looked very amateurish and cheap. They decided to waste even more electricity by having lights everywhere to ensure the hideous paintings were lit.

Simone and Kelly both got this… thing… which we found very fascinating, futuristic and hi-tech. We aren’t really sure what exactly it does, but we suspect it’s an order organizing tool that helps the waiters know where to bring the food to. I’ve have had a similar experience before eating at a Korean food court where they notify you when your food is ready for pickup by flashing the device to another color. But this was different since the food was served to the customers at their table. We didn’t have to stand in front of the kitchen counter like McDonalds, the waiters magically knew where we were and brought the food to our table. One thing that bothered us was the amount of waiters there were. We understand that they need more waiters so they can efficiently and quickly serve the food to the customers, but many of them just stood next to the kitchen counter chit chatting not doing much of anything. Some walked around, in between tables which was not very comforting having a stranger coming in and out of your conversations.

It is very much like a lounge area for people to work and study at. There was free wi-fi and electrical plugs which is very useful and convenient. However, we think the wi-fi has a 30 minute time limit during rush hours.

During our stay, we also witnessed a staff handing out free samples (or not samples… maybe FULL SIZE FOOD) out on the street. Most likely to further promote the restaurant and their products.

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Panera Bread is definitely a great place to eat with your friends and relax. Although there were flaws and room for improvement, overall we had a pleasant stay. It is near Ryerson so it can be a great close location to lounge or catch up on some studying. It has the basic essentials every student loathes for in a restaurant: wi-fi and electrical outlets. The food and drinks were very good (although on the pricier side). Not sure how jam packed the restaurant will be during lunch hours, but there were many comfortable seats for small and large groups. I am sure I will go to Panera Bread again in the near future, but most likely order something that doesn’t require me to work.

Here is our map for our experience. We decided to create a timeline because it clearly showcases each step of our experience while effectively displaying them within Entice, Entry, Engage, Exit, and Extend. The map really helped us think about all the little details we usually don’t pick up on. You would think, more servers  = faster food for us, but it is actually a negative when there are so many moping around on the main floor. We really got to examine every little part of the restaurant and thought about what could’ve been done differently, and how it could’ve been better.
(click to enlarge!)

1. Wall as Table
We often use the closest flat object/space we find when there’s no table nearby. Since we are almost always surrounded by walls, we don’t even realize we are writing on a vertically flipped table.

2. Plate as Tray
Plates can be used for many things, but I highly doubt it’s designed to act as a tray to hold and support a dozen dishes on top of it. This is something waiters commonly do at Asian restaurants, stacking every dirty plate possible to create an un-collapsable sculpture.

3. Cooler Hole by Beach Shore
I don’t really know what this hole by the beach shore is for, but I’m pretty sure it’s not intentionally designed for people to place and cool their snacks and drinks in the hot blazing summer.

4. Feet Rest Theater Chairs
I’m sure we have all done this once before: using the empty theater seats in front of you to rest your feet. Those with long legs will find this more comfortable than the minimal space available between each row of seats.

5. Towel/Cloth Hanger as Shelf
This loop is clearly designed for you to hang towels and face cloths over them. However, I use it as a shelf to hold my dryer and straightener instead.


Presto is a smartcard-based fare payment system for public transit systems in Ontario. By tapping a preloaded presto card onto a reader on a bus or subway station, the cost of a trip fare is automatically deducted from the money within the card.

Living in Markham, the quickest way for me to travel downtown was taking a YRT (York Region Transit) bus to a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) station and riding the subway down. Since YRT and TTC are two different public transits, the tickets are not interchangeable. Thus the cheapest total was buying a 10 pack tickets for YRT and tokens for TTC. Even though it is a lot more convenient carrying a monthly GTA pass, it is too expensive considering I will only be using it three days a week.
The presto card was the perfect alternative for me because it was convenient and cheap. The system covers both YRT and TTC, so I don’t need to purchase different tickets for each system. Instead of having to worry about coins and tickets, everything I need for my travels is the presto card. The total cost stays exactly the same because the presto fares are discounted from the regular fares (just like the tokens and 10 packs). I don’t have to waste time buying tokens and tickets at the machines and counters because I can easily load money into my presto card online with a credit card.

Although the presto card is nowhere near (or ever will be) as advanced as the Octopus card I’m used to in Hong Kong, it is none the less an exciting new ‘innovation’ (in Canada anyways) that aids my traveling complications in Toronto.

Being a person who loves to take pictures of just about everything, my three year old Samsung camera have helped me capture the most precious moments I encounter in life. This camera was special because it was given to me on my birthday from my parents. There is a main touchscreen where all the main controls are, three additional control buttons, and an innovative dual screen in the front of the camera. A few months back, the main screen became progressively unresponsive. The left corners of the touchscreen, where some of the controls for essential camera feature, stopped working one day. With those spots dead, I couldn’t record videos or change settings of the camera. I couldn’t get a replacement because I didn’t purchase the store warranty when the camera was first bought, and the one year manufacturer’s warranty expired long before the incident. I was able to cope with the issue until it became more and more of a hassle. Recently, I took the camera to a repair store and got a brand new touchscreen. It was definitely not cheap, but it was expected if the cost justified the durability and longevity of the product.

In less than a week, random black lines appeared across the screen. There was nothing I could do to get rid of them. The lines proliferated within days and the screen went completely black. I was already very aggravated by the fact that a brand new screen can die so quickly, but when I returned to the repair shop, the staff the audacity to suggest I was the one who re-broke it again. It was impossible since I didn’t use the camera much within that week, nor could’ve possibly damaged it physically. While they tried to repair will cost me again, I insisted they replace the broken screen with a new one for free. Though they were reluctant to do so at first, they eventually gave in knowing I would not leave peacefully without what I leaving with what was rightfully mine.