Category: Experiment 2

Experiment 2

Title: Illusion




Size of group: 1

Created by: Mehdi Farahani

Light Sensor (1) + Servo (1) / Arduino nano / Bread board, Wires, Resistor, and …  / transparent films, and …

Project description: This is an interactive and immersive installation. The main idea of this experiment was to create an interactive design and interactive lighting. I wanted to create an optical illusion atmosphere through the interaction of people and my painting. I had to use the ultrasonic sensor. But I only had a light sensor available. So I used the light sensor (instead of the ultrasonic sensor) just for showing my idea in a limited way. When the light comes on, the servo stops working. When the light goes off, the servo starts moving one of the transparent films over the other. Using the light source behind the transparent film, an illusory atmosphere will be created on the front wall.

In terms of the principle of calm technology, I used the phrase: “Technology can communicate, but it does not need to speak.”
In my opinion, artworks such as a painting, a sculpture, or an installation do not need to speak up or do not necessarily need to be in a large format or complicated to communicate with their audience. Rather, the interaction and interrelation between an artwork and the audience should be considered.


20211025_190223  20211025_185421  20211025_182258


Fabrication Process:

One of my biggest challenges in doing this experiment was my limited access to electronic equipment in London. Creating a sensitive object with a light sensor and a Servo and fabrication at home was no easy task. But sometimes simple tools can create a tremendous visual impact. One of the most important problem I encountered in my work was 1/4w Resistors. I ordered 10k ohm and 220-ohm resistors, but Creatron company sent me the wrong Resistors. As I am new to electronics, I did not know why my circuit was not working properly. By the suggestion of a friend, I used a 10k Trimmer Potentiometer instead of a resistor, and my problem was almost solved. I decided to focus on visual impact with these tools, even if I do not have suitable resistor and sensor to write the best code. All the construction of this work has been done at home and with very limited facilities. This will be a lasting memory of the COVID Pandemic period.

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Circuit diagram:



Experiment 2 Trick and Treat


Project Description

Trick & Treat is an interactive installation designed for trick-or-treaters for Halloween. Before Thanksgiving, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, released new guidelines on the celebration of Halloween. Trick or treating is officially back! However, social distancing is still accentuated, so I come up with the idea of designing a little monster box that can do tricks and collect candies at the same time.

In this work, I used purple card paper to wrap the box and decorate it with orange LEDs – they will work as blinking “eyes” of the little monster. Since the colors are traditional pick for the Halloween, the ones who see it appear at the doorstep will immediately relate it to trick or treat and interact with it. This installation uses level of luminosity to measure the proximity. Light sensor is placed at the front the box as the nose of the little monster. When a person approaches the box at a short distance, the amount of light received by the sensor will be reduced, which will trigger the LEDs change into 3 different modes. There is also a correlation between proximity and servo motor. As the person get closer and the level of lights goes down, the servo will push the lid of the box up and down, to surprise the person who interact as well as invite him/her to give a treat.


CBC News (2021). ‘Trick-or-treating back, Thanksgiving dinners on (for the vaccinated), Ontario’s top doctor says. CBC, 7 October 2021


Discussion of Calm Technology

This project uses one principles of Calm Technology:

Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak: The color palette and monster-like figure deliver the Halloween information in a natural way that in a lucid way that the user will probably understand. The change of blinking LEDs when the user approaches conveys a succinct signal that makes user know it reflects on the change of distance between him/her and the object. Through the up and down of the box lid, it indicates that the little monster also displays function of a box.




Experience Video | How It Works Video


Arduino Code


Final Project Images






Final Project Images






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



LuminArt: light up your art


by Nooshin Mohtashami


LuminArt is a simple installation that consists of a painted canvas, a series of LEDs installed (and integrated) on the canvas, one light sensor and one microcontroller (Arduino BLE 33 Sense) with a built-in microphone to monitor the sounds around the canvas.

The canvas is activated when the room its in is dark (or the light sensor is covered). Once the canvas is activated (or is ON), the microphone of the microcontroller monitors for the sounds around the canvas and randomly lights up the LEDs on the canvas illuminating the different areas of the art.

The colours of the LEDs in each section of the canvas match the colour of the art where they are placed so when the LEDs are OFF, they blend in with the art and the canvas looks more or less like a regular painting.

Calm Technology Principles

This was created with minimum amount of technology to solve the problem of illuminating the canvas in the dark (Calm Technology Principle VII). It also requires minimal attention from the user for it to be activated (Calm Technology Principle I), if the room is dark and the user talks, sings or plays music or even if there are general sounds in the room, the technology starts turning on/off the lights, otherwise, it remains as a passive painting and disappears in the background, following social norms of being a painting (Calm Technology Principle VIII).


LuminArt in action (54 seconds) // How LuminArt works (1.46 min)

Link to the Arduino code on Github

Circuit diagram

Circuit Diagram for illuminArt



Experiment Two: Zephyr


Concept Statement

Zephyr is inspired by my childhood morning routine of sleeping in until the last possible second until my mom – whose patience was wearing incredibly thin – would warn us that if we didn’t wake up, she’d throw a bucket of water on us. She never did, of course, but the dread of being doused in freezing cold water was alarming enough to promptly get us out of bed. However, the temptation to continue sleeping through all your alarms – no matter how jarring – persists. I’ve realised though, that external stimulants – like my mom’s warnings – can in fact, be extremely effective.

Working towards a gentler, more soothing stimulant, I gravitated towards activating our sense of smell to help bring us out of sleep. Our sense of smell is an important, and often disregarded, factor in having a good night’s sleep [1]. Aromatherapy is often used to ensure both a restful night, and a refreshing start in the morning. This project utilises our sense of smell and essential oils, to bring you out of sleep in a serene manner.

Triggered by your first alarm, the machine is activated – opening up the container of essential oils, and starting up the fan that disperses the scent around your space. This fanning action continues until the user has awoken, and has drawn their blinds, thus letting in the sunlight necessary to halt movement, and reset the machine. In using scents, a calming environment is created which in turn can boost our energy and mood

final images




Experience Video // How it Works Video

[Note: for the experience video, the day I was filming was extremely gloomy, so a lot of the video is pretty dark, and I had to substitute the sun with the ceiling light. I will re-film the video when the sun comes out again!]

Calm Technology Principles

The two Calm Technology principles that I’ve implemented are:

1.Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity

Zephyr was designed to perform in the shadows, and to awaken the user with a sense of calm and serenity. With the majority of its work being done while the user is asleep, the machine itself brings about no attention to it or it’s function, but instead quietly transforms the space for the user with little to no direct interaction. With the addition of a catch-all space, zephyr allows itself to be multi-functional, and is then able to serve the needs of the user even when it is not operating.

2.Technology should make use of the periphery

Keeping with its minimal aesthetic, zephyr can literally blend into the dark of night, and requires only the indirect action of drawing their blinds for it to fulfill its purpose. Thus, the user is not responding to the machine itself, but just continues their process of waking up. In doing so, the machine is not necessarily perceived by the user, instead the effects of its work (i.e., the scent that lingers) shapes the atmosphere that impacts the user, and their mood.

Process and Development

circuit diagram


process images


img_6600  img_6602

links to process and development videos

cc-process-img-for-vid1  cc-process-img-for-vid2

Arduino Code


[1] Suni, E. (2020, October 23). Smell and Sleep: How Scents Can Afect Sleep. Retrieved from of the power of,psychological and physiological responses2.



Experiment 2: George, the Zombie Lamb (Halloween)

It’s getting closer to the Halloween, so I decide to start the project named George the Zombie Lamb. In general, there is one input and two outputs in the project. The input is the motion sensor, and the outputs are LED and servo. When the motion sensor detects movement, the servo gets to work and the LED automatically turns on. And it looks like a lamb turns his head around.

This project uses one principle of Calm Technology:

Technology should make use of the peripheral: the toy is easy to play with, and users do not need to waste energy on figuring out how does the toy work. And what they need to do is to put their fingers before the motion sensor, and correpondinly, the toy moves.

Experience Video | How it works?

Development Images:

img_0940 img_0941

Final Work Images:

img_0944 img_0945

Circuit Diagram:


(As I did not find any icons representing motion sensors, therefore, I used Temperature sensor in the diagram.)

Code on Github:


Talking With Plants by Siyu Sun



Project Description

Talking with Plants(2021) is an interactive bionic artwork based on the Arduino study.  This project simulated the possibility of dialog between humans and plants, to let people empathize with plants. Plants play an important role in the ecosystem, and they account for about 80% of all biomass on the planet. [1] However, most of their feedback is slow, so people always ignore these existences. As the term Plant Blindness offered by Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandress, a botanist and biologist in the United States said,  “the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.”

I hope to make plants”conscious” through this bionic plant installation. I used fiber optics and a culture utensil as materials to create the bionic environment. Then used fiber optics, and picked real plants from the forest by roots on three single LEDs to simulate growing plants. The interactive effect here is microphone/sound sensor inputs the sound signal to recognize the volume level, to identify different volume setting signals to light up corresponding color LEDs. After research, plants have a strong sensation, they can distinguish different colors of optical fibers, ultraviolet rays, and red high beams. They can change their physiological conditions according to different light.[2] Based on this concept, I chose LEDs lights for feedback output. So people can see the change situation of plants when they make sounds.



Discussion of Calm Technology Principles

In this work, I was engaging with the first principle  I. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention in Calm Technology. I am a firm believer in the principle that less is more. Therefore in this installation, I used a minimalist technique to make the interaction more direct. And through the creation of the environment and concept, I built the appearance of the installation as I wanted, and let the audience as far as they can perceive the thoughts that I expressed.



Experience Video ( 1 minute )



How It Works Video



Final Project Images





Development  Images











Circuit diagram






[1]Jose, Sarah B., et al. “Overcoming Plant Blindness in Science, Education, and Society.” Plants, People, Planet, vol. 1, no. 3, 2019, pp. 169–172.,

[2] BioScience, Volume 53, Issue 10, October 2003, Page 926,[0926:PB]2.0.CO;2

The Changing Seasons Serenity Night Light

Project title: Changing Seasons Serenity Night Light

Created by: Kelly Xu


Project description:

The Changing Seasons Serenity Night Light is inspired by the city lights turning on one by one at night. I feel like the process has a calming effect and I wanted to bring that into a home with a sensitive object that I can create. The Night Light has three modes of brightness depending on the amount of light that is sensed in the room corresponding with daytime, evening, and nighttime. The Night Light also responds to temperature; when it’s hot in the room, the trees stay green to display summer, when it gets a little colder, the red and orange lights on the trees turn on to symbolize autumn, and when it gets even colder, the red and orange lights turn off and the blue lights on the Christmas tree turn on to symbolize winter. The object is intended to be an ambient, serene Night Light that has calming effects and makes falling asleep more interesting. The tiny model is also the start of something bigger – it demonstrates how this technology can be used in a larger environment.

Discussion of Calm Technology Principles:

As I was developing the concept for my project, I constantly had the principles of calm design in mind. I truly wanted to create something that could exist seamlessly with the environment while enacting positive change like the “Warde” flower lamp project installed in Vallero Square. My focus for the purpose of this project was on the following four Calm Technology Principles:

  • Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention:

The Changing Seasons Serenity Night Light requires a minimum amount of attention, with no need to physically interact with it. The Night Light is designed to exist as a part of the environment as to not take the user out of their current task. It simply provides light and comfort in the background.

  • Technology should inform and create calm:

With the cabin and backyard design, the project is meant to be calm and healing. By mimicking nature with the lights, the project is meant to help users become more in tune with nature while not needing to waste effort or time on it.

  • Technology should make use of the periphery:

The Night Light makes use of the periphery as it will interact with the environment by itself; responding to changes in light and temperature.

  • Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak:

The lights on the project can communicate brightness and temperature information through a simple series of lights. The communication method is the same as that observed in nature: when it gets cold, the leaves on trees turn red and orange and when it is winter, snow falls on trees and many Christmas trees’ lights turn on. The project’s lights mimic nature in this way to communicate information without the need to explain or provide instructions.

Experience Video:

How It Works Video:

Video transcript:

“The Changing Seasons Serenity Night Light is inspired by the city lights turning on one by one at night. Now, as I was working on the project, I noticed that the more lights I attached to the breadboard, the dimmer the LEDs became. The way I tackled this problem was that I split the project into two separate parts each using its own breadboard and code. This does mean that both sets of instructions cannot exist at the same time without having more equipment. For the purpose of this project, I will be showing how the two parts work separately, but the effect is intended to occur alongside one another, and I like to view both parts as part of a whole project.

The first part of my project is essentially a Night Light. Inside the cabin made of popsicle sticks is two sets of LED lights made up of 4 yellow lights and 4 white lights. By using the photoresistor, which is attached to the breadboard behind the house, the piece collects information regarding the brightness of the room and changes the brightness of the lights in the cabin accordingly. There are three different modes of brightness corresponding to daytime, evening, and nighttime.

The second part of my project uses the temperature and humidity sensor which is included on the Arduino Nano 33 BLE. Depending on the temperature in the room, different information will be sent to the LEDs that are attached to the trees beside the house. There are 6 blue lights and 7-8 orange/red lights. When it’s hot in the room, the trees stay green to display summer, when it gets a little colder, the red and orange lights on the trees turn on to symbolize autumn, and when it gets even colder, the red and orange lights turn off and the blue lights on the Christmas tree turn on to symbolize winter.”

Final project images:

image-2 image-3

The Development Process:

  1. I started by developing a simplified version (code and circuit) of my project:


2. Then, I created the little cabin which would house the LED lights using popsicle sticks:


3. Next, I created the backyard and trees using green fabric and foam:


4. Finally, I put together the complicated version of the circuit and attached the LEDs to the inside of the house and on the trees using wire.



Link to the Arduino code hosted on Github:—Sensitive-Objects

Circuit diagram:

Circuit 1: This circuit is for changing the light depending on the brightness.

circuit-1 circuit-1b

Circuit 2: This circuit is for turning on different sets of lights depending on the temperature.

circuit-2 circuit-2b

*Note: The Arduino I used is the Arduino Nano 33 BLE (not available on TinkerCAD)



Music from video is “Tomorrow” from

Team, The Arduino. “Reading Temperature & Humidity on Nano 33 BLE Sense: Arduino Documentation.” Arduino Documentation | Arduino Documentation,




Cross-species interaction: The emotion of getting food


Jiamin Liu


Project Description

Animals have been one of the important members of many families, now. They are members of the family instead of pets. So, I hope to study the behavior of animals, such as cats, before studying cross-species interactions.

In this project, I used the number of LED lights to assume the mood of the cat. The sensor can measure the distance of the cat to the food. If the position of the sensor and the food are the same, and the cat keeps approaching the sensor, the LEDs will light up one after another from left to right, which Indicates that emotions are constantly becoming positive. In addition, I use LEDs that change colors automatically replaced ordinary monochromatic LEDs, because the constant blinking can better express excitement. All in all, I hope this project can simulate a phenomenon that animals’ excitement increases as the distance decreases, when they are constantly approaching food.



Discussion of Calm Technology Principles

The technique used in this experiment silently accepts participant data and gives visual feedback. This kind of visual feedback, the flashing and changing of LEDs is the way of communication between technology and participants and language expression. When the technology fails, it will not display the lights and express false feedback through silence.



Experience Video



How It Works Video


Link to Arduino code on Github


Circuit diagram



CHI ’09 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing SystemsPages 2529–2534


Experiment 2: Sit Bit


“Sitting long hours as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes daily” [1]. The aim of this project is to discourage a sedentary lifestyle by helping escape the prolonged sitting periods and their harmful effects. This technology helps people with desk jobs to stand up and stretch out at regular intervals. It has two components, the first one is attached to the backrest of the chair that uses a proximity sensor to detect if the user is seated or not. The other part is a reactive heart placed on a desk that reminds the user to stand up and reacts to the user’s behavior.

In the idle state, it behaves like a desktop object with a lit-heart. When the user sits on the chair, the heart starts beating at a normal rate. After 20 mins of seating, the heart starts beating extremely fast warning the user to stand up and take a break. They would then have to stand, exercise, move, do whatever but not sit on the chair until a total of 2 minutes break. To rest the heart, they would have to listen to the heart and don’t sit for at least 2 minutes, and then eventually the heart would return to the idle state.

I had quite a few crazy ideas of implementing the stand-up reminder like “A smiley face which would become sad if you don’t stand up”, “Generating a fart sound from the chair if you don’t stand up” or “Playing a voice saying “Get up! Get up!”. I decided to work on the “Reactive Heart”  since it seemed very natural and easy to be relatable to the user’s health.

This project uses two principles of Calm Technology:

Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak: The heart object reacts in a natural way conveying the user the information they need to know. There is no sound or distracting elements of over-communication to the user. Simply blinking one Red LED in a few ways is sufficient to reflect the effects of prolonged seating and encourage users with healthy behavior.

Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity: This system is designed for people first. There is no explicit action that’s necessary for the user to behave like a machine or click a button, or perform any unnecessary repetitive action. The system is smart enough and computes everything by itself. Users simply have to sit, work, take a break. That’s it. All the necessary state changes are handled by the computer.

Experience video link | How it works video link

Final project Images

final_4final    final_3final

final_1final    final_2final

Development Images/Videos

Concept video with a clock (using a servo):

dev_1dev dev_2dev



Link to Arduino code on Github

Circuit diagram





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