Category: General Posts

Experiment 3: Lost in Space



by Ania Medrek and Orlando Bascunan

Link to code:

Link to process video:

Link to circuit diagram:

Lost in Space is an interactive shape and colour recognition game. The game has physical and digital components: a game box that is placed in front of players on a table and a web interface players use to input responses. Up to 10 players.





Designate who will be the Game Master. The Game Master controls the server that will allow him to trigger the game to start. The game box is placed in front of the players (everyone must have a clear view of the game box). Each player opens in a browser on their laptops.

When all players have signed up to play by inputting their names, the Game Master will trigger the game to start.


Inside the game box, there are five cards that are programmed to pop up one at a time. Each card shows one colour and one object (ex. green alien). When the first card is triggered, players have five seconds to determine its colour and type and compare it with the four cards that have appeared on their screens. The first player to click on the card that DOES NOT have the colour or object on it gains the most points. The players have five seconds to click a card. After ten rounds, the player with the most points wins.


After ten rounds, the player with the most points wins.




As a group, we agreed early on that a game would be a fun way to incorporate networking, messaging and notifications. We were inspired by games like Ghost Blitz and Anomia which are simple and easy to learn. Our first challenge was to pick a theme for the game and work out the game structure. The space idea had a wide potential for objects and colour, so we decided to use a green alien, a purple robot, a blue planet, an orange spaceship and a red UFO as the basis of the game. We drew from other card-matching games to come up with the idea of mixing objects and colours that the player will have to sort out.

There are only eight different cards that show up on a player’s screen throughout the whole game, but only four appear per round. We figured out eight options (Cards A-H) is enough with the chart below.



There is nothing random about the game. There is only one winning card in each round of the 10 rounds. There are five pre-programmed rounds, that are played twice. We designed the game to be as straightforward to code and design as possible. The trick of the game is that it is so face-paced that it feels like there are dozens of randomised cards and options.

The programming part of this project consists of three different codes: the client, the server and the Arduino. The server is what controls the game flow, registers the clients and calculates the score. It also controls the Arduino part by sending it messages to trigger whichever flag is needed to each game round.

The client part is what each individual player sees on their screen. It displays the instructions and gameplay details, including the cards. It registers the users’ card choices.

The server and clients communicate using PubNub. We created different ‘types’ of messages, such as ‘join’, for when a user joins the game and ‘pick’ for when they choose a card. Other messages like ‘start’, ‘nextRound’ and ‘gameover’ were also used to control the game flow.

We also needed a bit of HTML to allow players to input their names.

Once the code structure was figured out and the graphics were complete, we moved on to creating physical game box. We followed a simple circuit diagram from to learn what parts we needed to regulate the power and not fry all our servos. We used a transistor, two electrolytic capacitors, and connected everything to ground to make sure this would not happen.

We found the servos very temperamental. They would reset and start twitching around whenever a new Arduino code was uploaded, or just seemingly for no reason at all. Every time this happened, we had to unplug them from the power source and re-calibrate them so that the cards were at exactly a 90-degree angle.

We had to build a few different prototypes of the game box. The first box was too small, and tape was not enough to keep the servos steady. We ended up hot-glue-gunning the servos to a piece of foam. We tried a version made with cardboard, but foam proved to be sturdier and looked more polished.


Project Context

Our game is part of the ongoing to trend to update the homely card game. Some of the most popular examples of this trend are Pokemon’s recent AR creation and Dungeons and Dragons multi-platform empire. It’s crazy to think Pokemon first became famous as a card-collecting activity. Even classics like Monopoly and Solitaire now have high-tech re-incarnations. Board games have included electronic physical ‘game-boxes’ for decades now (for example, Monopoly’s batter-operated cash-counter). Lost in Space was inspired by these games, and took it one step further by creating a web interface that works in-sync with the physical game box.

CASE STUDY – BreakfastNY Thread Screen



Presented by Ania Medrek and Mahsa Karimi

Link to class presentation:

Link to BreakfastNY’s promotional video of the project:


The Forever 21 Thread Screen is an 11-foot-tall, 2,000 lbs. custom machine that takes Instagram photos and recreates them out of spools of thread. While the machine was up and running in a New York City Forever 21 store, shoppers could tag Instagram photos with the hashtag #F21ThreadScreen and prompt the spools start spinning. It was available to the public for six days in July 2015, then moved to Breakfast New York headquarters for the duration of the F21 marketing campaign. While it was in the store, the screen was broadcasted on a dedicated YouTube page so that people could participate from home.

The F21 Thread Screen took a small team of Breakfast New York employees a year and a half to make. It could only live in the store for six days because of how many people it took to run. A webcam live-streamed the installation on Youtube to help programmers and technicians monitor the spools. When a fabric pixel went out of alignment, technicians needed to be present to figure out which spool was out of sync and reset it. Another reason the exhibit was temporary was that it exerted a nearly-hazardous amount of heat. Half a dozen fans kept the back of the machine cool, and reports that the spinning threads also created an “impressive amount of static electricity,” that without grounding, would cause the whole thing to go up in flames.



The Thread Screen was built out of more than 200,000 custom parts. Breakfast New York co-founder Andrew Zolty told media that it would have been “easier to build a car”.

When the screen is up and running, there are 80x80 ‘pixels’ of threaded fabric, with 36 different colours on each strip, which rotates similarly to a conveyer belt. Each spool has a motor that drives the fabric to its appropriate colour. Each strip has a reflective strip which is scanned by an infrared sensor that tells the machine the colour each spool is currently showing, allowing for corrections. 

The render server software that BreakfastNY created for this project takes Instagram photos tagged with certain hashtags and automatically optimizes them for the Thread Screen’s 80×80 resolution. Next, it calculates what the best visual representation will be based on the available colours on the fabric strips.

The commands are sent to the motor controllers over 10 RS485 buses (interconnecting cables). Software used includes Ruby, Node.js, Firmware written in C and C++, Bash, Linux, WebGL, FFmpeg, SQL. 

Technical information courtesy and

Images of the project from every angle available here: and here:


Clearly, the full force of Forever 21’s public relations department was in effect to get the word out about this project. Dozens of news outlets were invited to come and try it out first-hand, and BreakfastNY gave a lot of interviews in which they revealed a lot about the Thread Screen’s technology and process. Media fawned over the project, commenting on its originality, complexity and beauty. Harder to find, is the public’s reaction to the in-store experience. Questions we have for the makers would be: Did you do usability testing? Was there long line-ups? How many people participated?

In June, the Thread Screen won a silver medal prize for Innovation from the global Facebook Awards, and another silver medal in the Tangible tech category from the Cannes Cyber Lions.




Breakfast is an American rapid product and prototyping company that designs intellectual and technological properties. Focusing on engineering, and design and innovation, they call themselves “the modern-day inventors.” BreakfastNY has done mass produced products along with one-of-a-kind custom designs.

They develop and design all their products and the technology behind them from scratch. They believe that “technology doesn’t need to stand out and look like technology; It can blend in and hide the complexity behind great design.”

Some of the projects that they have worked on are:

  1. Thread Screen – a custom designed piece for Forever 21 in NY that portraits photos with the #F21ThreadScreen in Pixel art format, using 6400 threads.
  2. Points – The most advanced robotic sign on earth  
  3. Open Band – An open source watch band for Apple Watch
  4. Lester Hashtag Printer – The world’s most popular social-driven products for events.
  5. MLB Mission Control – A NASA inspired mission control for Major League Baseball.
  6. Google Verbalizer – An open source dev board for google voice search.
  7. B.LINE – Your cold war inspired direct line to BREAKFAST for their customers.
  8. CONAN BLIMP – the world’s first blimp with an Artificial intelligence.
  9. Electromagnetic Dot Screen – The first super-speed, real time flip dot display.

The Electromagnetic Dot Screen is similar to the F21Thread Screen. The dot screen is an interactive design by BreakfastNY that can display both static and moving images. The screen is connected to an infrared projector and a camera that can find objects and people in front of it and depicts the silhouette of the moving object up to 15 times faster than any other similar products.


Daniel Roosegarde:



Cuppetelli and Mendoza



HYBE – Hive for hybrid environment:




Cannes Cyber Lions award winners:

Global Facebook Awards winners:


Group Members :

Project Title :

Project Description :
A visual representation of brain activity during manual sexual stimulation incorporating LED lights, jello, and button activation. This interactive piece invites viewers to insert their fingers into the hole of the artwork and find the “HOT SPOT” or button that will activate the septal region of the brain.


Circuit Diagrams :





Working towards the final code consisted of multiple iterations executed on arduino software –



Multiple LEDs


Final Code


**Code that didn’t work :


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Video & Photographs

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Process Journal
The materials that our group chose were LED, a button, and jello. Our process commenced with the exploration and a brainstorm session of ways to integrate our components and specifically find a connect between the LED and jello. We were inclined towards the idea of jello because of its translucent nature, its moldability/malleability, and its unique, permeable texture that would allow an interactive tactile experience. Our thoughts led us from lava lamps to electric eels!

We ideated further and started to think of captivating concepts that could be interactive and fun at the same time. The human brain and the various senses that trigger certain parts of the organ came to mind. We derived our final concept from that germ of thought. We did a lot of research that led us to think of interactive ways to integrate the three components to make it a unique experience.

The experience is meant to take you through a journey of the heightened senses during a state of climax with a click of a button that enhances/lights up the septal, the region of the human ‘jello’ brain that gets activated.  To develop our idea further, we created sketches and a presentation in parallel to further research and multiple trial and error sessions with Arduino.

After multiple rounds of deciphering code, cracking issues with the switch, and much ‘jello-making’ in a brain mould, we built a compact, functional and interactive prototype that worked!

Hot Spot Presentation

Project Context
All of the following references are a result of some of our research and directly connect with aspects of our project –






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