Physical Computing | Ideas for Final Project

This blog post is part of a class in physical computing. The core idea of the class is creating interactive/spectacle art with use of electronics, micro controllers and basic sensors. To brainstorm and to list potential ideas for the final project of the class, our professor has instructed to write this blog post. So this space will be mostly on the new technology and art that I feel is interesting.

To start with I am was interested with how a youtuber, Simone Giertz creates her project videos. Her general idea for the videos is building ‘shitty robots’ which means robots which do not work as expected. We all can have pretty good idea of how a machine should work, while knowing what it is build for. But in her projects, though we know the purpose of building the robot, it fails miserably which invokes a sense of inquisitiveness. I am interested in exploring the fuzziness in the context of what if the robot or machine doesn’t work in the way we instructed it to do.

Line following robot

One idea for my final project is to build a line following robot, which at times gets a mind of its own and not follows the path. So I was visualizing this as a game the user have to play to make the robot reach a destination (which should be not possible due to its implementation). Hence, there will be a continuous interactive loop which could keep the users engaged with the display.

Haptic Communication

Sense of touch is one less utilized form of input to the human body. As per research in perceptual studies, Visual sense is the dominating sense of all. Hence even though we are receiving lot of inputs through touch, these are underutilized. Here, in the above workshop shown, friends and family of people who are either deaf or blind are attending sessions to learn more about haptic communication senses to communicate or help. Haptics is nothing but sense of touch. As a student researcher in the field of haptics, I feel the sense of haptics could communicate more than just words, such as EMOTIONS.

I am visualizing a game that is played in the motion tracked physical space, where only sound and haptics are present. And to make a convincing story line the hero of this game, is an blind swordsman. Who could only hear and feel things. It is a challenge for anyone to shut down their most dominant visual sense and trust the under utilized auditory and touch senses to experience this world that I am interested in creating for my final project.

The Void — Immersive Experience with Physical Worlds

My background in creating virtual worlds and experiences for virtual reality research has been always in back of my mind. And I am constantly thinking about connecting my newly gained knowledge with my previous works for building an experience that could entertain and at the same time convey a meaningful message. At this juncture of the physical computing course, I am thinking about creating ‘The Void’ like experience in a small scale only for the hand, involving smaller electronic components to create a magical experience.

I plan to build a box with a display on the top and a open front where all the interactions are planned to occur. The user sees the top display where their hand is visible on the display with graphical augmentation. The graphics could be a narrative or a simple experience. The user hand will be tracked with self-built tracking system, and small experiences like moving objects will be created with senors, motors and arduino circuit boards.


Physical Setup
Physical Interactions — Rough Layout
Virtual Layout
Low Light Scene — Spotlight Tracking

Shift In Idea — Magic Box

Considering the complexities involved in the previous idea, I pivoted my final project idea to making a box of transformation. Where the user loads an object on to the machine, it takes it in and does the best-in-the-world magic to transform

Build Diagram

Components Required

Arduino Board, Stepper Motors -2 , Servo Motor -1, Wooden Frame with custom made perforations, Aluminium Rods, Timing Belts, 3D printed objects, 3D printed holders.

Work Plan

Seven plus weeks is the time line for building this project. Here I am listing a work plan for tracking progress.

1st Week — Design, Ideation and Pre-Viz

2nd Week — Research-tracking technologies, communication protocols and technical feasibility review

3rd Week — Development and Build phase I

4th Week — Build phase II- Media Development, Finalizing setup and Proto-boarding

5th Week — Build phase III- Testing and Feedback

6th Week — Review I- Final tweaking

7th Week — Final Presentation