This year my mom will celebrate her 87th birthday. As she gets older her memory is declining and the details of her past become obscured and forgotten. Please help her find her lost photos, dreams, and stories. We are trying to help her remember a time long ago. It was a period in her life that has been buried for many years in the dirt and desert sand. We are going to the Topaz Internment Camp near Delta, Utah. During World War II this facility housed over 11,000 Japanese-Americans. My mom was one of them. I’ve learned that the barracks no longer exist. Only broken cement foundations and hidden rock gardens remain.
We have developed a mobile tool to help my mom remember her past. Our project focuses on creating and delivering interactive memorials to the Topaz Internment Camp and Museum. Using patented technology we are linking memories in the form of music, stories, poems, photos, and videos to origami. Touch the wing with a near field communication (NFC) cell phone to retrieve, replay, and share memories of WWII Internment Camps. We are making interactive origami cranes that will be used as gifts to share experiences. Instant memories in the form of videos and music will connect the physical and virtual worlds together in time. We are collecting, retrieving, and sharing music, hidden voices, and stories on a mobile, global platform.
We have developed an interactive system that can be used to document oral history. Our patented method is simple, mobile, and easy to use (US Patent 7,598,869 and 7,843,334). Simultaneously recall an experience and record the event. Upload the data to servers that reside on the Internet in the form of photos, videos, text, music, or audio files. Retrieve links from the servers and write it directly onto the personalized Topaz Blue Crane using radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled cell phones. At a latter point in time, touch the tagged wing of the crane with the phone and instantly retrieve, replay, and share memories in time. Our goal is to transfer knowledge and stories across multi generations and platforms using RFID technology. We will show both the old and young how to personalize origami cranes using NFC cell phones. Please check out our short video that provides a demo on how to record, retrieve, and share experiences.
Our background in developing interactive technology has been essential in creating the Topaz Blue Crane Project. In the past, we have initiated projects that have utilized RFID-tagged sculptures and murals to share artistic experiences. We have set up a transmedia art walk (http://bulatag.com) with the John Natsoulas Gallery (http://www.natsoulas.com) in Davis, California that allows people to retrieve videos and leave messages on public art. The goal of our current project is to challenge the community to actively participate in sharing oral history across multiple platforms. Interactive origami and paper airplanes (http://swagmark.com) have become a natural offshoot. We want to show the public how to fold, personalize and create Topaz Blue Cranes that can be used as a gift to share memories and stories about the WWII Internment Camps.
Our goal is to create and deliver a transmedia origami crane for less than two dollars. The development of new software or apps is not required for this project. Participants can download freely available apps such as NXP’s “Tagwriter” on Android mobile devices. Our current demo featured in the video is fully functional. We are able to write links to music, photos, and videos using NFC cell phones. A complete list of NCF mobile devices that are compatible with the Topaz Blue Crane can be found at http://www.nfcworld.com/nfc-phones-list.
The project is moving forward in three separate thrust areas: design, multimedia content, and integration with the Topaz Internment Camp and Museum. Creating and selecting custom templates will take several weeks. We want to produce pre-folded Topaz Blue Cranes that can fit into an envelope. We will seek input from the participants in the form of submissions of photos, music, videos, and stories that can be part of the interactive oral history project. The results of the campaign will be shared via social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.
The next phase of the project will test the system in the outdoor environment. In the first week of July, 2014 we will visit the Topaz Internment Camp and Museum (Delta, Utah). During this trip we will copy and transfer the digital information from the Topaz Blue Cranes to a small black granite memorial. Our initial demo design will be a 5” X 7” laser engraved crane in black granite. We have selected Midas RFID tags (Smartrac) because of their small footprint and durability.
We will conduct an outdoor field trial where we will be video recording and documenting the transfer of digital information. Our goal is to provide transparency in the implementation process so that we can identify and share bottlenecks, hidden costs, successes, and failures. The focus of this project is to share a novel method to disseminate information and stories. We hope to transform the origami crane into an interactive storyteller where the issue is sharing experiences. The final phase will depend on the level of participation, availability of NFC cell phones, and the establishment of partnerships. We look forward to expanding our transmedia Topaz Blue Crane Project and can’t wait to get started. Work will be required for improvements in the methods, selection of paper material, design of the templates, selection of the tags, and integration with smart phones. Aloha, hope, and memories are free. Creating, documenting, delivering, and folding interactive messages will require modest funds. Please help my mom and others remember their past. Participate by building paper cranes and writing stories in stone. The Topaz Blue Crane Project is oral history revised. Connect the generations from grandparents to grandchildren by building digital bridges that open doors from the past to the future. My mom was 14 when she went to Topaz. My daughters are 12 and 15. Through interactive storytelling we will take a step back into the past to make plans for the future. We encourage the public to engage in our project through active participation. Although many have never been or heard of Topaz, our platform will allow them to share opinions, solutions, and dreams for peace. The collection of art, stories, and people will help to keep the memory of the Topaz Internment Camp alive. Please feel free to participate. Leave a message. Burn an impression. The issue is sharing experiences.
Risks and challenges
The risk and challenges of the project are dependent on materials, technology, and the environment. We have previously tested tags in harsh conditions such as direct sunlight, liquid nitrogen, -80C freezers, and organic solvents. We have determined that the tags can withstand severe temperatures and conditions. Our results entitled “Development of electronic barcodes for use in plant pathology and functional genomics” were published in the Journal of Plant Molecular Biology (2006) 61:515-523. The Topaz Internment Camp is located in a remote part of the Utah desert. During our outdoor field test and museum visit we will determine the cell phone signal strength and availability of WiFi. Please note that writing and retrieving links to information to and from the RFID tags does not require a cell phone network communication. The weather in Utah during the month of July will be extremely dry and hot. Wind, dust, and sand in the outdoor environment may interfere with our video recording process. We might have to document the event during the early morning or late afternoon. We will take extra precaution to reduce dehydration and sun exposure. The Topaz museum is under construction. We are setting up an appointment to visit the museum in early July and will try not to interfere with their busy schedule.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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