A future where we connect beyond the computer screen.

Ironically, “staying connected” today means disconnecting from real life. When we enter the placeless-ness of cyberspace and the rigid schedules of Zoom calls, we leave behind our 3D environment: our bodies, our homes, neighborhoods, and our impromptu interactions. Our 3D world flattened to a 2D screen.

Our 3D world flattened to a 2D screen.

Many emerging smart homes products (Amazon Echoes, Nest thermostats, door locks with “smart” cameras) promise to connect the Web with our physical environment. But getting an Echo update when an Amazon package arrives or having my Nest thermostat auto-adjust hardly fulfills the potential of real connection.

Setting Up Processing

1 Download Processing. Place Processing in the Applications folder on your computer (or Program Files for Windows). When you double click Processing, it should install and launch the application with a new empty sketch. A sketch is where you will write your code. We’ll be writing code in Java inside of Processing.

Processing Documentation


You will have two basic parts in Processing, the “setup” and the “draw” loop. The setup loop runs once when launching your script, whereas the draw loop runs repeatedly. This allows you to save computing power by sticking parts of the code that only need to…

Gifs from Videos or an Image Sequence

  • If you take video or photos from a phone — these can easily be made into gifs.
  • use video to gif if your video is too long you can trim it on a computer in Quicktime.
  • for a sequence of photos use gif maker to create a gif.

Gifs from Screen Recording

There’s a number of ways to record a gif from your screen.

If you have a Mac:

  • use Quicktime screencapture (keep it shorter than 10 seconds and a small portion of your screen)
  • Trim the video in Quicktime to make it a smaller file
  • turn the video into a gif using ezgif (you can also use Photoshop…

Course Description

This course will explore techniques for working with data from the physical world, with the aim of understanding and manipulating dynamic, interactive environments. Students will use hardware (sensors, microprocessors, computer vision cameras), software (IFTTT and Processing), and their own powers of observation to characterize and design phenomenological aspects of “the great indoors.”

Investigating interior spaces and the range of human experience afforded by digital technologies is especially relevant right now. We are all home-bound, interacting primarily through video chats that flatten our 3D world to a 2D screen. Our investigations will explore how we can heighten our connection to the…

(Video: Tu Uthaisri for Sidewalk Labs)

Introducing our generative design tool, which can help generate millions of planning scenarios — and identify options that best reflect local priorities.

This post was co-written with Designer Brian Ho.

Editor’s Note: In October 2020, the generative design tool described in this post launched as a product called Delve.

When designing a new neighborhood, planners, architects, and developers must weigh a wide range of competing objectives that impact quality of life. For example, increased density can generate more jobs and more housing options, but it can also mean more traffic congestion or taller buildings that cast shadows onto public spaces.

A holistic understanding of these tradeoffs is critical, since the built environment is very difficult to…

DUE: Nov 12

  • Come prepared to discuss privacy
  • Post your diagram & deployment to Medium

1. Reading/Discussion: Privacy

Read the following on privacy:

Think about how privacy impacts your system and how you will address it. Be prepared to discuss this and these readings in the next class

2. Diagram your system showing how it changes behavior in space.

Consider the following:


What ritual or behavior are you trying to change with your system? What is your system’s goal: i.e. …

This work is inspired by both Dynamicland and Metatool’s Paperhopper! Thanks for all of your support and direction!



  • Laptop — to run the code
  • Web Camera — ideally separate from the laptop to find the markers
  • Projector — to project realtime feedback into physical space
  • Fiducial Markersprint out some of these (so that one marker is 8.5x11)
  • Placement — Your webcam and projector should be pointing in the same direction, ideally from a similar location. Your markers should be out in a room but easily viewable by the webcam. Turn both the projector and the webcam on.
  • Webcam…


1 — Observe & Describe

How does the space change when you add your system to the space? Write a few sentences in your post about your experiment or prototype.

2 — Recording Videos and Gifs

Document your effects and prototypes through videos and gifs.

Making Gifs On a Mac:

  • Use Giphy Capture OR
  • Use Quicktime screencapture. Trim the video in Quicktime to make it a smaller file. Turn the video into a gif using ezgif or Photoshop.

Making Gifs On Windows:

  • Download a Screen Recorder of your choice.
  • To install on school computers change the file type from .exe to .txt and move the file out of the downloads folder…

Violet Whitney

Spatial tech, design computation, organizational behavior, equity, and gifs. Adjunct Assist Professor @ColumbiaGSAPP. PM, @SidewalkLabs.

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