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Friday, October 21, 2011

An Age-Appropriate Experiment

This week I acquired a lego set for use with the vOICe vision sysstem. The reasoning behind this experiment is as follows:
It's still very hard for me to recognize 3D objects in the real world which might have an irregular shape and might not be composed of only one color. My ability to visualize many everyday objects is only through touch. What will happen if I practice building simple 3D shapes with legos and viewing them in stages? In real life, will this eventually translate into an ability to recognize new types of objects and visualize tasks without relying so heavily on storing them in handspace? Below are some initial results in the form of a modified email I sent to a friend.

I found it surprisingly easy to pick up legos off the floor in front of me without having to feel for them. Once I started building I was easily distracted. It seemed I was suddenly struggling to control the mind of a one or two-year-old.
"Okay, stop staring at your hands. Yes, they're very interesting hands. You've stared at them hundreds of times and counting. Now pick up the blocks. No, don't look at the stripes on the couch. Look down at the blocks."

My guess is that the reason this personality hasn't given me much trouble in class is because I haven't actually asked it to perform a task. I had a plan as to what pieces should be stuck where and in what order and at least twice forgot what it was. I eventually was able to make myself stay on task and begin to deal with the problem of looking directly at the shape. As I added pieces it was an irregular shape. I knew what it felt like and was surprised at how little sense it made when I saw it. Some of this could be due to the fact that the legos are different colors. I suspect though that the main problem was the shape itself. At one point I had a square with a cube-shaped piece missing from one corner and a rectangular piece sticking up in the middle of the top edge. How could I tell things like indentation and upward verses forward? I mainly remember a mosaic of cubes and rectangles which were connected in some unclear way. I kept adding pieces and trying to direct my view to the slightly changed shape over and over. At the end of the exercise I was lying on my stomach on the floor and turning the cube to face me at different angles. There were the round holes on the bottom side, the lines on the sides where the pieces were connected, and the changing slopes of the edges as I turned the cube. It seems that the most difficult position to see it in is standing on one corner with an edge facing me. That seems to require that I be able to see 2D as 3D.

Update: The second time I ran this exercise, it was easier for me to stay focused, possibly due to the fact that I was working in the exact same spot as before with no new distractions. The shapes are starting to make a little more sense, and some pieces are very noticeably brighter than others.