Author Archive

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

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Circuit Diagram –










Experiment 2 – Flora says

Flora says

“Weather changes accompanied by decreases in barometric pressure are suggested to trigger meteoropathy, i.e weather-related pain.” [1] Besides pain, many friends of mine have shared with me their mood fluctuations under the change of weather and barometric pressure. These effects are constantly influencing our emotions, both consciously and unconsciously.

As we as humans are affected by our surroundings, flowers and plants are similarly subjected to changes – in a more sensitive way. For myself, sometimes when I wake up, I could feel not quite comfortable but don’t know why. Flora says could indicate whether our body sensations are under the effect of current barometric pressure. In the way that either a too low or a too high value will cause discomfort on our body. “Ms. Vanos said people are most comfortable with barometric pressure of 30 inches of mercury (inHg). When it rises to 30.3 inHg or higher, or drops to 29.7 or lower, the risk of heart attack increases.” [2]

This flower also serves as a reminder for us to take care of our body feelings, that we should be attentive about our own natural sensors. Our body functions just as how microcontrollers and sensors work, but in a much more delicate and complicated way.

Usage of principles of Calm Technology:

  1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention
  2. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak
  3. Technology should make use of the periphery

The circuits is embedded inside and below the “pedals”. From a distant angle, Flora says appears to be a normal still decoration instead of technology which actively seeks attention. I initially tried to incorporate servo motors into the scene (motors would spin and when sensor value is beyond abnormal), but it ends up drawing too much attention. Thus the final version has no sound nor movement to create calmness.

As for the usage of periphery, I have utilized materials that are available in the space. Since I just finished quarantine and being in the process of moving-in, my surrounding usable materials are very scarce. Among all my possessions: torn-up packages, paper wrappers, delivery materials and a few household items, I used some translucent wrappers and a new-bought vase to complete the assembling. Resistors were of great help in styling the flower pedals as adhesive.

Final project images:

img_2230-2   img_2226    img_2220-2


Development images:

img_2010    img_2190     img_2194     img_2216

Experience Video | Behind the Scene Video

Circuit Diagram:



(*My Github is unable to login because of phone number change and it needs time to defrost two-factor authentication, it’s currently stored in google doc:) Link to code



Experiment 1 – Social Animal

“Man is by nature a social animal” – Aristotle

Project description  – My project centers around the theme of social network and how individuals are constantly subject to the influence of close affinities. The relationship between movement of body parts and abstract forms is a miniature of the interactions on a greater scale. I started my first studies from an initial idea in responding to a casual (or maybe not) comment from my close family. Despite knowing the inherent rightness or wrongness of the comment and underlying societal values, I still find it hard to reconcile sometimes – especially coming from people who we are very close with. The intertwining relationship resembles a series of connected actions when I was learning and compiling p5.js, which led to my following four experimentations.

Overall successes/failures & what I discover in the process – The process of learning itself is a big success for me, via actual experimentations with code and hands-on research. It made me realize how much I don’t know and have yet to learn. I have encountered many mini-frustrations in the process when I was unable to achieve certain tasks, but it’s rewarding when I can finally map a way to solution. For final delivery, the smoothness of real-time interaction and feedback loop is yet to be optimized- partially caused by the slight imprecision of tracking tools. And more importantly, I shall try to make my code more efficient and take less computational steps in the future.

Project details – 4 studies:

  • Judgement Machine: The idea for this study came from a recent comment from my grandma, who kindly suggested me to have a plastic surgery on my lips because she thinks they are too thick and ultimately the cause of me being single. Reflecting upon underlying beauty standards pursued by the society across time and region, I want to create an experience of  being looked at and judged upon while staring into a mirror/reflection. One can move around and try to fit different part of face into the boxes, which would trigger a series of super subjective judgements just by your facial appearances.

Judgement machine

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  • Eye Puppet: Extended from last study on with face tracking technique and “clicking”/state change feature, this study I explored more on face tracking and how to apply relational factors(speed) with abstract shapes. I still want to keep the concept from latest one, the eyelashes symbolizes for the invisible string attached from other social networks – to me that’s a representation of relationship with people who are close to me. And no matter how I move, in spite of small changes on my surroundings, I still can’t get rid of the attached lines – as I can’t fully be unaffected by any influence from my intimate relationships, unless I quit the game.

Eyelash Puppet

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  • How many pigeons are watching you?: Again extended from the notion of watching/being watched. I experimented with PoseNet to create this study of ”How many pigeons are watching you?” With trained data from sets of poses, generally speaking, the more complicated/pretentious/phony the pose is ( according to my personal judgement) the greater number of pigeons will show up. This set of pigeon drawings were my early doodles a few years ago.


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  • Followers: A bit more abstract as it is, I want to create a movement that echos the dynamic of big influencers on social media over specific generations like teens. White balls represent the mass population and the colorful finger stands for those KoLs/net famous people. Using hand tracking tool, the white balls follow along with the index finger with some acceleration. Recalling my first study, this last study can be seen as a potential cause of how appearance anxiety generates and permeates different strata of society.

Following around

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