Humor and Fear

Project title: Humor and Fear

Size of group: 1

Mehdi Farahani


Figure 1: Woodcut print, 15 * 11 inches, Created by Mehdi Farahani


Project description

Studies show the benefits of laughter in combating stress. Laughter reduces tension and stress by relaxing muscles. ” The psychology of humour does include the function of coping before the presence of fear. According to the original formulation of the EPPM, fear control processes are defined as primarily emotional processes where people respond to and cope with their fear, not to the danger. As such, humour may be considered a legitimate coping response, and thus a fear control response.” [1]  Some psychologists suggest laughing to deal with fear. Gina Barreca believes Humor addresses the same issues as fear, not to dismiss them, but to strengthen our ability to confront them and then laugh them away from the door.[2]

My 3rd experiment is an interactive installation. I intended to look at Humor and Fear from my own perspective. Only a handful of people may not have seen Edvard Munch’s Scream painting. This experiment is inspired by the scream painting of Edvard Munch. Munch wrote in his diary in January 1892: ” One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The colour shrieked. This became The Scream.” [3]

I thought that no artwork as beautiful as the scream of Munch could represent fear. So I manipulated his painting by using my personal style in drawing. I drew Munch’s painting once again and printed it on cardboard (Figure 2-3). But this time I considered two situations: Laughter and Fear.

The colours black and white are inspired by my perception of fear, stress and darkness, as well as peace, light and brightness. I chose the footsteps to indirectly say we should change our spot (one step forward or one step backward) to reconceptualize or reevaluate our perception of fear.

I used two F.S.R sensors: one for sound and image of laughter and the other for the sound and image of fear. I mounted the sensors on the cardboard I had prepared before. I designed them like shoe pads and placed them on the floor. When you stand on the first pad (Black pad), the sensor will be activated and the screaming sound, sound waves and the scream image will be loaded on the screen. When you change your position and go one step further (White pad), laughter sound and image will be activated on the screen. (Figure 4) Unfortunately I could not find a perfect sound effect for laughter. But I will replace it with a better sound in the future.

1-2     2-2

Figure 2-3: Woodcut print, 15 * 11 inches, Created by Mehdi Farahani


Figure 4: Project screenshots (4 steps), laughter and fear 


Figure 5: Breadboard circuit


Figure 6: Mounting of F.S.R sensor


Figure 7: Mounting of F.S.R sensor







GitHub link

Circuit diagram



1- Eulàlia P. Abril, Glen Szczypka, and Sherry L. Emery,(2017), LMFAO! Humour as a Response to Fear: Decomposing Fear Control within the Extended Parallel Process Model,

2- Barreca. Gina, (2013), Laughing at the Scary Stuff: Humor and Fear, Psychology Today.

    Posted April 1, 2013,

3- The Mysterious Road From Edvard Munch’s The Scream

Covid Challenge

By Geanna Ge and Jiamin Liu

Key Project Images:



Project Description:

This is a simple game where we challenge our players to drag us towards the button of ‘Back to Normal’. Using distance sensor and Arduino processing, we created this ironic challenge that is the epitome of our prolonged battle against the covid-19 virus. The irony in this game is that we will never reach the button because as you drag us towards the right side of the frame, we will reveal the hands of the Virus that has been holding us back for two years now, covering up the button to go back to our normal lives. The glitchiness of the dragging motion is intentional for it reflects how we went back and forth with our progress during this ongoing pandemic. The slightly out-of-control visual response signifies how the pandemic has developed out of our expectations a couple of times already as well as the uncertainty we face right now.

Development Images:



Final Project Images:


Circuit Diagram:


Experience Video:

How It Works:

Code Links:


Whimsy Wand

Whimsy Wand

Group members: Preeti Mahajan, Merel Ververs-Spiegel, Milena Satrohan


Project Description 

For this project, we decided to initially create a “Broke Student’s Drawing Tablet” consisting of a Processing Sketch that uses music within the public domain to change the stroke weight of a line depending on the frequency within the audio file while using a capacitive sensing interface that would use the Arduino BLE 33’s pressure sensor to register a stylus to allow users to draw. During our trouble-shooting we discovered that the scope of trying to build a capacitive sensor was a bit out of reach and instead shifted the interface to build around the IMU solely. As a result, the “Whimsy Wand” was created. This wand consists of just the BLE 33 and utilizes the built in Gyroscope to track the user’s movements as a drive input in order to draw on screen within processing. Although initially the design was based on a Wacom Tablet the current aesthetic was inspired by the crudely animated “Wand Drawings” as seen during Disney Channel transitions between commercials and shows. Due to the departure from our original idea, some setbacks in terms of shifting the code to work with the alternative sensors proved to cause many problems either in our understanding of how to translate the code or communication between Arduino and Processing or between the physical input and digital output. This assignment allowed us to explore more of the BLE 33’s capabilities while allowing us to explore a more fun and whimsical approach for future use and gamification. 

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screen-shot-2021-11-16-at-9-17-17-pm         screen-shot-2021-11-16-at-9-17-31-pm

Link to video:

Link to Arduino and Processing Code on Github



Disney. “Disney Want Intro FAILS (BEFORE AND AFTER Editing)”, YouTube, Uploaded by Trevor Webb, 2017.

Disney. “The Best Disney Channel Wand IDs! | Compilation | Disney Channel”, YouTube, Uploaded by Disney Channel, 2019.

Dan Shiffman. “1.1: Drawing with Pixels – Processing Tutorial”, YouTube, Uploaded by The Coding Train, 2015.

Unknown. “Using the accelerometer and gyroscope on your Nano 33 BLE”, YouTube, Uploaded by Scott Fitzgerald, 2020.

Unknown. “Arduino BLE Example Explained used Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense| Arduino Bluetooth Tutorial”, YouTube, Uploaded by Arduino Porjects & Robotics Tutorials – RootSaid, 2019.

Unknown. “Processing art STROKEWEIGHT | Grid Art Studies 03 (Creative coding art)”, YouTube, Uploaded by thedotisblack creative coding, 2019.

Lukrembo. Biscuit, Audio, 2019. 

Lukrembo. “(No copyright music) loft type beat “biscuit” | free vlog music | prod. By lukrembo”, YouTube, Uploaded by LuKremBo, 2019.

Draw a Note


Experience Video | How it works Video | GitHub code 

By Ellie Huang & Aaditya Vaze

This experiment is aimed at building an accessible physical interface for creating music. Using pencils and sharpener you can just start drawing and generate sounds from a choice of musical instruments.

Musical instruments need different types of muscle coordination techniques and strengths to play them. e.g. Drums need high amount of energy to produce sound and Cello needs control and focus to play it. It’s difficult to learn the intricacies of each musical instrument. With “Draw a Note” users can use two pencils in their hands and draw/tap on circles to play a note/sound of an instrument. Switching instruments is as easy as placing sharpener on a different point on the paper. To make it accessible to visually impaired population/people, we have an etched pin to sense the region that reacts to touch or pencil to produce a sound.

The aim of “Draw a note” is to experiment with simple day-to-day objects like paper, pencil and sharpener to play beats or generate notes of different musical instruments. We have fabricated a minimal design that is subtle, lightweight and portable.

Development Images



Final Images


Fritzing Diagram



Freesound Sound Files for Musical Instruments | Nov 11 2021 | (Creative Commons License)

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

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Development Images

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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:

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