Helicopter Parents

Group Member: Ellie Huang and Winter Yan

Project Description:

The impact of family on the growth trajectory of children is hard to be ignored. Even though being too aloof from one other might make a family less bonded, being too close also risks sacrificing a certain degree of personal freedom. Helicopter parents are oftentimes referred to parents who pays extremely close attention to their children. As the name itself, helicopter parents hover overhead and micromanage every detailed aspect of their child’s life constantly. 

With this project, we would like to explore the inter-personal relationship affected by physical and psychological proximities. “Parents” with the controller are able to tap on the button and oversees where their “children” are at via lighted led strips. The central control is deliberately designed and fabricated in the form of a game controller, as it mimics the player character simulation of parents shadowing their own desires onto the children. The peripherals were constructed on top of neck collars, with the tightness of which, also symbolizes the sense of being controlled. Despite not being leashed, as long as “parents” and “children” are co-located in a space, “children” can be constantly monitored without noticing themselves.

For future development, we envision the collar strips to be created with more behaviours, such as tightening up or vibrating when the controller button is pressed. In an exhibition setting, we would like to give visitors the controllers when they enter the gallery space and let them identify people they want to keep an eye on throughout the gallery visit (if on a family basis, it could be parents – children, but also could be reversing the direction to children controlling their parents). It would be an interactive experience as visitors wander around the gallery, while not interfering with other art-appreciations activities at the same time.

Experience Video | How it Works Video | Arduino Code Link

Project Images:



Progress Photos:









Circuit Diagram –







[1] https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/arduino-library-use

[2] https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_MPR121