Category: Experiment 2

Experiment 2: bedsideBox



bedsideBox is a room ambience control device that sets a room’s music based on user presence, user proximity and room lighting.

The music is controlled by connecting an Arduino Uno to a simple webpage which plays embedded YouTube music videos based on the status of the sensors. The code for the connection is based off of a tutorial video from Adam Thomas

Mode 1 – Inactive: No active user detected in room & Room is bright

  • Quiet ambient music plays in room
  • Front LED’s stay solid blue
  • Bedside LED’s stay off

Mode 2 – Active: Active user detected in room & Room is bright

  • Lo-fi music plays in room to soundtrack activities
  • Front LED’s blink blue to indicate user’s presenceCalm TechnologyTechnology should require the smallest possible amount of attention
    1. Create ambient awareness through different senses.
    2. Communicate information without taking the wearer out of their environment or task.
  • Bedside LED’s stay off

Mode 3 – Bedside: Active user is on the bed

  • Bedtime/Reading music plays in room
  • Front LED’s go off
  • Bedside LED’s come on to indicate user’s presenceCalm TechnologyTechnology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak

Mode 4 – Sleep: Room is dark

  • Music stops playing
  • Front LED’s go off
  • Bedside LED’s stay on



  • Arduino Uno


  • PIR Motion Sensor
  • Ultrasonic Distance Sensor
  • LDR/Photoresistor


  • LED’s


Experience Video:

How It Works:

Arduino Github Code:

screenshot-2022-02-01-at-22-42-45 screenshot-2022-02-01-at-22-42-56 screenshot-2022-02-01-at-22-43-10screenshot-2022-02-04-at-17-19-17

On my own terms

Time is more illusory than we tend to believe. We assume time is concrete and arrange our lives around marking it. My work challenges the notion of “keeping time.” I built an unconventional clock that has unexpected properties to reject the time pestered modern life. This clock gives control over how we interpret the passage of our lives. “On my own terms” is also about rage against time, growing old and inevitable death.

The clock in my project has three distinct behaviours that change the pace or direction of the time indicator LEDs:

  1. Smelling the rose pauses the timer as a way to freeze a moment in the most delightful flashes of life.
  2. Lighting up the candle slows down the movement of the clock to imitate how we hope time stretches when having a romantic/therapeutic experience.
  3. And the last feature is to make time go back by looking at an old photo. This feature tickles nostalgia to realize an impossible dream of going back in time.

For the output LEDs I chose green and red to reference traffic lights and how timers also dictate us to go/stop at specific points in life and how demanding they are.


Sensor and Actuators:

I am using three sensors in total for this project (LDR, thermal, Ultrasonic), and each sensor drives one form of response:

  1. Take a rest from a long day/Freeze the moment – I attached a light sensor to a rose petal so that when you move your nose closer to smell it, the shadow from the user’s face is detected. This sensor could also be mounted on a pillow as a form to freeze time while you are sleeping. I have used an LDR for this part, and the threshold is 100 for detecting the closeness of the face. Link to the video! ldr    screen-shot-2021-10-29-at-12-51-08-pm
  2. Cozy up and have a romantic dinner – In the setting, we have a candle beside the flower. The candle jar has a thermal sensor attached to its top (an inch higher than where the flame goes). Once the candle lits (indicating a romantic or attentive experience), the timer starts running slower to relax the user and encourage them not to rush out of it. The temperature highly relies on the exact place one mounts the sensor in the jar. But for my purpose, I chose the reading of 700 and higher as an indicator for the candle being inflamed. Link to the video!

    img_8586    screen-shot-2021-10-29-at-3-40-26-pm

  3. An old map of Toronto hung at the back of my setting that has a proximity sensor attached to the bottom of it. Once the user goes close to the frame and reads the map, the clock runs backward. This behaviour is to entertain the nostalgia we feel gazing at old photos. Link to the video!                                                 proximity-sensor    screen-shot-2021-10-29-at-12-23-00-pm

For the actuator, I am using single LEDs mounted on a circular plate to act as a timer. The LEDs are assigned to pins in an array and get turned on in turns. I got the most out of the single LED light by using the reflection from aluminum foil and the defusing effect of tissue papers. I am using 8 LEDs and pairing them with 200-ohm resistors.

Material: For the whole setup, I reused and recycled a lot of household objects. I reused a candle jar, a flower stem, and a photo I already had around for the input. I used a couple of paper straws, aluminum foil, and an aluminum pie plate for the clock (output). In terms of soldering and putting the circuit together, I tried to be mindful of the following usages and attach parts to disassemble them later. The only waste produced in this process is some tape and labels.

Calm Design Discussion:

  1. A user’s primary task should not be computing but being human: The interactions for this project are rational and not newly introduced. Lighting up a candle, smelling a flower, and looking at a photo are good old human actions that do not need any computing or machine-like performances.
  2. Technology should work even when it fails: The timer in this project is running even when the user does not interact with it. Also, the operation does not change drastically or fail in case of a misconnection or wrong reading.
  3. Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak: The clock is a familiar day-to-day object, so choosing a visual timer output does not disturb the environment and can run in the background.

Reflection: Using the experience from Exp1, I started with the sensors to make sure they do detect what I think they should. This practice saved me a lot of time in the beginning. For example, I intended to catch the user walking using the proximity sensor. Still, I soon realized the line of sight is essential for the ultrasonic sensor, and it has a smaller range for the maximum distance detectable. This realization shifted my design towards a more stable form of proximity (standing in front of a picture). Another challenge I faced was that the temperature sensor reading did not come down quickly, so I had to bend my design around that characteristic. With the LDR, the measurements were more real-time and reliable; I will link more diverse actions to light and shadow in my future projects. Furthermore, for the number of LEDs in the clock, I realized that too many would complicate the wiring while not adding much visual value. I will also be more mindful of pauses in the system, like how I pause the clock if the input is not reliable and reads the wrong number once, then the break in the system goes on for a few seconds while it is not supposed to.

Development images:

development-leds-lighting-up-in-turn   development-temp-sensor development-ultrasonic-sensor   development-led-effects

Main circuit (placed inside the gift box)

Main circuit (placed inside the gift box)

Github link:

Circuit diagram:


Video links:

Rose –

Candle –

Picture –


Ultrasonic sensor –

Artworks about time –

Cyborg Botany –


Cap’n Kirk’s Replicator


I have been interested in exploring intersection of two worlds; more so two worlds talking to each other. I have tried to bring the world of Start Trek into mine in this experiment. Being a Trekkie and an ardent follower of the Star Trek Original Series, I wanted to transform my workspace into making me feel I am in the USS Enterprise starship whenever I come to my desk. A computer that belongs to Captain Kirk in his quarters called the Replicator, is capable of materialising anything one wants in the starship. I wanted to bring that affordance into the object. I thought up a scenario where Captain Kirk asks, “Computer, I would like a cigaretter please” and the replicator 3d prints one for him. So similarly the object I was trying to make was going to offer me a cigarette when I ask for one. Being intelligent it would also bring in the layer of nudging me into quitting smoking if it could. So the object will ask me, “Are you sure?”. This may not be much but if you ever really take a moment on that you may actually consider that suggestion and just drop the urge of lighting one up. I smoke occasionally but when code doesn’t work, I am lighting one after the other as though nicotine seems to help with the debugging. To help me quit smoking I thought this was a perfect sensitive object to get augmented into my environment in a playful way.

Calm Technology Principles Used

It should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity. Like a Kettle that user can switch it on, forget about it and once it is done heating, you are free to pick it up, make use of it or not, etc., this dispenser aims to live in your environment in a similar mode.

Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak. So the mode in which it shares information or its status with you ought to be inconsequential versus the actual information. I was looking at using LEDs to light up a simple cutout of PU foam from behind so that the letters “Sure?” are visible and the message comes to visually. User replies ‘Yes!’ as a confirmation to receive a cigarette handed to them by the device (more of popping one out for you to pick up from the stack).


The Process



The design started with a concept sketch of making LEDs emulate the sonar array scanning the starfield (shown in the image below) inside what looks like a computer from the starship as shown in the image on the right. I wanted it to have the old-style duotronic sensor array sound which appears in the bridge of Starship and has a scanning cycle of three seconds with a pinging sound. As it would have required a lot more of components including an SD card reader, that approach was dropped but the LEDS were retained to show the Prompt of “Sure?” from the system to the user. I ran into a lot of USB cable issue because I thought my house grounding seems to be faulty. So each time I would have something working, the next moment it was not the case; ended up using two separate Arduinos. Used the first, Arduino Uno, for distance detection and lighting the LEDs.


cigarette-dispense replicator-2


The second,Nano BLE 33 Sense, uses TinyML library to read “yes” or “no” from the user. I have modified the microspeech example and tied include the servo motor actuation inside the detected ‘y’ routine in arduino_command_responder tab. The challenge was even though global variables were defined in the main tab/page, it was not being picked up inside arduino_command_responder tab/page. Defining it again and modified it to use values directly there in the particular page was a learning step.

Also found that HC-SR04-Ultrasonic Range Finder was delivering better results than the proximity sensor in Nano 33 BLE Sense. A range of 0 – 400 ensures if someone sat down in front of a work desk and the system activates the LEDs.


The Experience | How it Works  | Arduino Code


The Circuit



Star trek Computer 1

Star trek Computer 2

“9” – Desk Companion & Halloween Decoration

pxl_20211028_003419408 “9”

“9” is the ninth Stitch-Punk from the 2009 Shane Acker movie of the same name taking place in a dystopian future where the split soul of a scientist lives on through burlap-sack dolls known as Stitch-Punks. I decided to create a replica of the protagonist some time ago as decoration and given Halloween is approaching I decided to recreate some of his known actions from within the movie consisting of his eyes flickering when the microphone picks up sound in order to simulate blinking, his torch lighting up once the lights are turned off to guide him through the darkness and flickering when the lights are on (flame/light going out), and lastly his “soul/heart” lighting up when something is near. All of these interactions may use both passive and active interaction as he can simply react to the environment he’s in without intervention or one can directly interact with the character. I thought this character as the perfect vessel for this experiment as it can utilize the functions explored using the Arduino, sensors and LEDs while staying somewhat true to the character as he is seen within the movie. 

In relation to the calm technology principles this project utilizes the following:

  • Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention. It does not need to be directly interacted with in order to work, it can completely react to the environment around it while keeping me company atop my desk.
  • Technology should inform and create calm. As a desk companion it provides an ascribed sense of emotional support.
  • Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak. The data used by the sensors can relay the message of several different things given context, for example why did the eyes light up? Was there a loud noise? Why is the soul getting brighter? Is something approaching? Why is the torch going out? How much light is in the room.

Experience Video | How it Works | Github Code


pxl_20211026_163202871  pxl_20211027_014257558  pxl_20211027_224527073pxl_20211028_001016837pxl_20211028_003410583

Official “9” Merch & Poster





**Please note that I do not own any rights to the design of the Stitch-Punks/9 Doll or any rights to the movie 9

9. Acker, Shane. Focus Features, 2009.

Unknown. “1.jpeg”, Pinterest, Uploaded by Edward Lee

Unknown. “2.jpeg”, Pinterest, Uploaded by IMDB

Re-Cactus ♻️


Re-Cactus is a sensitive object designed and built using waste materials from households that don’t have any value to them but are transformed into something meaningful. It’s like shaping your trash into something meaningful creating a sustainable object from the countless cardboards of amazon orders and the ice cream tubs. Re-Cactus depicts a cactus plant that has been upcycled from the things we call trash to change the perspective of people that trash can be upcycled into different things like an interactive object in this case. The cactus blooms and withers a flower during the day as it sits on your desk reacting to the sunlight. 

This project came to life seeing a lot of trash cardboard in my house that had just come in from a big order from amazon and I felt like this should be turned into something that is not trash. So I decided to make a cardboard cactus out of it which bear a flower on the top that blooms when the LDR sensor gets value above a certain level the blooming happens over a period of time depicting the natural way of blooming a flower and there is a reverse state wherein the flower closes in depicting a withering state which also happens over time. The last state is a honey bee state wherein a honey bee comes on the flower which is a very rare state and doesn’t last long.

Calm Technology Principles Used

  • “Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention”. The cactus just sits on the desk like a plant needing no interaction the flower starts to bloom when a certain LDR value is achieved, it closes/withers when the light is below a certain level.
  • “Technology should respect social norms”. The flower blooms in a very subtle way over a period of time slowly showing the blooming process.
  • “Technology should work even when it fails”. Even if the technology fails it is a cactus plant sitting on a table and the plant does not even require frequent watering and has a flower on top.
  • “Technology should make use of the periphery”. The cactus moves from background to foreground as it blooms and then again to the background as the flower blooms completely.

Experience Video   |    How it Works Video

Final Project Images

20211026_205602  20211026_205632


Development Images

20211021_123740      dev

20211025_143005    20211024_013423

Arduino code

Circuit Diagram



Since I was a child, I’ve always been a lover and an appreciator of music. For Experiment 2, I wanted to try and channel my love for music into something tangible that could perhaps have me engage with music in a way that I haven’t been able to before. The idea that proceeded to formulate in my head was to make a lamp with multiple-coloured LED’s that would react (strobe/flicker) to sound. The idea of an LED lamp that reacts to sound probably isn’t a novel one but being able to make interactive objects like this has been a long standing dream of mine, and one I’m happy to be able to fulfil. I have connected three colours of LED lights- Red, Yellow and Blue. If there is no music in the room, only the Yellow LED’s will remain on. If there is moderate volume of music in the room, the Red LED’s will start flashing. And if the music is loud, all the LED’s will start flashing.
• Discussion of Calm Technology Principles :

My LED lamp is engaging with 3 Principles of Calm Technology, namely:
1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention: The speaker is in a dormant state when there is no/less ambient sound. But if someone decides to have a party and play loud music, then the speaker will reflect the same ‘mood’ and react accordingly.
2. Technology should make use of the periphery: What looks like an otherwise unassuming, everyday origami lamp at first glance, quickly attracts our attention as the LED’s light up. Something that is just part of the furniture is made to stand out by its state changes.
3. Technology should work even when it fails: If all else fails and my music reactive code doesn’t run, it will still work perfectly as a regular lamp.

Experience Video:

How It Works Video:


img_20211020_164354 img_20211024_123821 img-20211019-wa0002 img-20211019-wa0003

screenshot_20211026-231348 screenshot_20211026-231435 screenshot_20211026-231413


• Arduino Code (I couldn’t figure how to upload it on GitHub):

int soundsensor = A0;
int led1 = D12; // yellow
int led2 = D11; // yellow
int led3 = D10; // red
int led4 = D9; // red
int led5 = D8; // blue
int led6 = D7; // blue

void setup() {

Serial.begin (9600);
pinMode (soundsensor, INPUT);
pinMode (led1, OUTPUT);
pinMode (led2, OUTPUT);
pinMode (led3, OUTPUT);
pinMode (led4, OUTPUT);
pinMode (led5, OUTPUT);
pinMode (led6, OUTPUT);

void loop() {

int sensorvalue = analogRead (soundsensor);
Serial.println (sensorvalue);

if (sensorvalue >= 200)
digitalWrite (led1, HIGH);
digitalWrite (led2, HIGH);

if (sensorvalue >= 430)
digitalWrite (led3, HIGH);
digitalWrite (led4, HIGH);

if (sensorvalue >= 500)
digitalWrite (led5, HIGH);
digitalWrite (led6, HIGH);

else {

digitalWrite (led3, LOW);
digitalWrite (led4, LOW);
digitalWrite (led5, LOW);
digitalWrite (led6, LOW);

• Circuit diagram:



Christmas in a box

Christmas in a Box
-Merel and Preeti










Project Description:

As holidays are around the corner, we both wanted to bring festivity to the experiment. Christmas is all about lights, music, and presents. So we’ve tried to get together the essence of Christmas through LED lights and deliver them in a box! Also, since most of us are away from our families, we wanted to celebrate this occasion with a touch of technology.

Function 1:
We have used a dark box to mimic the night as that’s when we see the stars and the Christmas lights at their best. The blue LEDs on the top of the box are connected to the LDR; as it becomes dark, the lights become brighter, and as the surrounding lights brighten up, the LEDs get dimmer.



Function 2:
The LEDs that are placed under the snow are connected to the audio sensor. They respond to the intensity of the music that is playing. Thus, the brightness of the LEDs fluctuates according to the decibel of the song.

screenshot-2021-10-26-at-10-55-23 screenshot-2021-10-26-at-10-55-45



we did not find the audio sensor on Tinkercad, therefore had to use a distance sensor

Function 3:
The star on the top of the Christmas tree is one of the most iconic ornaments in the decoration. We have used a LED light to represent it and can be easily turned on and off with the help of a push-button.

screenshot-2021-10-26-at-11-02-20 screenshot-2021-10-26-at-11-01-59


Experience video:

How it works video:


Our project uses two principles of Calm Technology:

Design for people first:
Our project conveys joy in the most straightforward matter, without it being dominant or overwhelming with technology. It invites the user to interact and immerse themselves in the experience of Christmas.

Technology should work even when it fails (Think about what happens if your technology fails):
If the technology fails in our case, it can still be used as a decorative piece. It will continue to spread the joy and soul of Christmas.

Link to the code:

Experiment 2 – Desk Buddy

Desk Buddy helps one keep track of time and keep the body moving when sitting at the desk for a long time. It comprises of 3 main interactions –

  1. A color changing sun at the background that mimics real sunrise and sunset times
  2. A dog that sticks its tongue out when the ball is not picked up in the past hour, and starts running as soon as the ball is picked up. This happens so that one gets up from the desk every now and then.
  3. Indication lights that help maintain neck flexibility by guiding one to look left, right and above.

Calm technologies

  1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention
  2. Technology should make use of the periphery
  3. Technology should respect social norms





Code –


Videos –

  1. Dog moving –

Pictures of build here –

Light Buzzer


My design includes the light sensor and the buzzer. When the light sensor senses light, the buzzer sounds, and the LEDs flash. This piece can exist just fine on its own as long as it is put in a place with light and darkness. I was inspired when I was rewatching the Vampire Diaries. If there is a vampire in the world, they might like my work. Does this count as inclusive design?

Experience Video:

For presentation sake, I intentionally use my finger to block the light from reaching the sensor to show that the buzzer and LEDs stop instantly without light input. But it works independently from human interaction as well. The light sensor is extremely sensitive. So I thought this piece can also be used as a light-triggered alarm that would buzz when a lockbox or a locked storage unit is opened.

How it works Video:

with light:img_1844

without light:img_1846

Arduino Code:

code1 code-2

Code Reference:



Experiment 2: Cuppa-Tea


  • Project Description:

It is impossible to be Iranian and not drink at least 3-4 cups of tea during the day. I am not an exception to this rule, but I usually forget that I ever poured myself one. My mug, full of hot tea, will stay on the desk on its coaster until it’s cold as a milkshake. And nothing tastes worse than cold tea!

In this project, I thought maybe I could make myself something to help me remember to drink my tea before it gets cold. This object will be put next to my coaster with its lights turned off. The arduino’s heat sensor, which is very close to the coaster, is constantly checking the temperature and when it rises up to 30 degrees, it means that a hot glass (of tea, coffee, etc.) is there. Then the lights turn on. After ten minutes, the lights will start flashing, meaning it is time to drink. And they keep flashing until the temperature goes back to normal, which means I have started drinking. Then they turn off again. When the temperature goes back to normal and the lights turn off, the heat sensor will again start checking the temperature until it rises up to 30 degrees or more, and so on.

I really enjoyed making this object and will improve it for sure. my next steps would be finding more sustainable material to work with, and to work on the overall structure of the object.

  • Final Project Images

photo_2021-10-26_10-59-27 photo_2021-10-26_10-59-25 photo_2021-10-26_10-59-22


  • Calm Technology Principles I am engaging with:
  1. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak:

The method of communication in this object is only through sight. The three states of lights (off, on, blinking) can clearly deliver the meaning, without attracting any other senses. “Lights off” normally means nothing is happening, “red lights on” means something is hot and should not be touched. And blinking lights call for attention, which in this case doesn’t need to be defined.

  1. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention:

This work will not call for attention until it is time. “Red lights on” is a state that informs, but doesn’t distract. The blinking light is also a very soft change of state, making sure not to irritate the user if they are focusing on something.

  • Development Images (prototyping):

photo_2021-10-26_09-55-28 photo_2021-10-26_09-55-25 photo_2021-10-26_09-55-22



  • Circuit Diagram:


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