Physical Computing - Week 9 - Final Project

an initial ideas sketch

an initial ideas sketch

Since last week I have formally decided to partner with Julia Rich on our final project. We are planning on creating an interactive planter full of various magical and otherworldly objects, including things like artificial flowers, glowing fungus and rocks. All the elements will be tied together with subtle science fiction elements like LED string and ‘uncovered’ artifacts that hint at the remnants of a long gone society. The key of the project is that many of the elements will be interactive (more on the specifics of that below) and by engaging with them, users can play and discover pleasing reactions from the plants and objects. These reactions also will harmonize visually and aurally with each other to create an elevated experience as multiple people interact them.

General Elements and Interactions:

Julia and I have collected a list of possible interactions, and one of our first steps is to test out as many as possible before we narrow down the final ones to include in the exhibit to 4 or 5. Here is a list of user inputs we are considering:

  • Bend a leaf

  • Pull off a flower petal

  • Lift a rock

  • Blow on a dandelion (or something similar?)

  • Sci-fi knob or button

    • a crank to turn

  • Step on a footprint

  • Poke something soft or squishy?

    • Glowing moss or something?

  • Brush hand through grass

  • Water to touch (or fake water)

  • Something to slide/pull open

However the response to user inputs from the exhibit is obviously equally as important, and this is one area where we are still gathering ideas. We have certainly considered LEDs within some of the objects, things moving subtly through the use of servos, and pleasant auditory tones. However what I think is important is finding ways to create more complex reactions that users discover either through multiple simultaneous inputs or through more complex individual interactions based on things like the length of time someone spends on a specific interaction.


Considering the nature-based inclination of this project, we are hoping to use as many recycled materials as possible. I have collected many artificial plants and natural-looking materials over time, and Julia has a lot of silicone and cast-able materials which we will hopefully make use of. We are also in preliminary conversations with second-year student Katya Rozanova about possibly trying to use her technique of making organic-looking forms out of recycled paper and glue. The central ‘brain’ of the project will likely be an Arduino, but we are looking into possible ways to incorporate p5.js as a means of controlling outputs, in particular the auditory ones.


Week 10: Test and decide on user inputs. Finalize general concepts for outputs. Finalize overall design.

Week 11: Finalize and collect materials. Begin fabrication of unique elements. Begin writing Arduino (and possible p5.js) code. Continue intermittent user testing.

Week 12: Continue fabrication and development of code. Continue intermittent user testing.

Week 13: Finalize Fabrication. Final user testing to iron out bumps.

pcompStefan SkripakComment