Interactive Canvas – Bring It To Life



Project Overview


Today there is so much competition, and advertisers are continuously looking to find new interactive and ambient mediums for advertising . This project explores a more traditional and yet interactive approach by using an ordinary canvas to bring three abstract icons to life upon touch with the idea of how a healing hand could protect wild life such as a butterfly and a tree. The use of touch isn’t limited to flat, shiny and expensive digital screens, but it could be brought to any tactile surface like in this project. The use of conductive ink and animations allows visitors to experience and feel the dotted paper anywhere and watch as flat objects change into animation. Moreover, such an advertising medium is economical to use and could be placed in any vicinity.

The aim of this object is part of my discovery into conductive materials and how it could be adapted to advertising mediums telling interactive stories.





My idea behind this project was exploring ways to being art pieces to life in an interactive and experiential ways. Although, there are many ways to do this today such as VR and AR but I was keen to discover something more traditional and familiar. Thus, for this project, I was keen to explore conductive ink and how capacitive sensors could allow a tactile surface to be interactive.

As a result, I came across variety of work within this field. This included the work from London’s Retail Design Expo1which used conductive ink to draw flat icons for storytelling. Another interesting concept about interactive wallpaper was introduced by High-Low Tech4. Here they added light and communication within the canvas. Similarly, another interesting work was the Dublin Interactive Wall2which explored conductive ink with advanced animation. In addition to this, conductive ink has also been used in combination with hologram and AR such as the from Ransquare3, an agency in Seoul.


Design Concept

To bring most commonly known symbols and icons to life, I chose a symbol of a hand, a butterfly and a tree. The story is about how energy from a hand can trigger life into the butterfly and tree. This is inspired from the documentary series of BBC Earth where intervention of humans is impacting wild life.






To trigger an animation for each of the three objects, I made a straight path animation using three colors for each animation.

capture3 capture4 capture-2


Conductive Ink

I used a 12 ml conductive ink pot to trace my sketch on to the canvas and let it dry for an hour as it’s a better conductor when fully dry.







I downloaded the capacitive sensor library for Arduino to begin testing the code. I initially started with putting some conductive ink on a sample paper to check the values on console and gauge what values are triggered upon touch.

I used 3 1M OHM Resistors and placed it between the received and send pin which was Pin 4. This allowed the capactive sensing to work. I learned that when conductive ink was in contact values jumped above 1000.




Using serial monitor data from Arduino, I then wrote ‘and’,‘if’ and ‘else’ statement to run a movie for each sensor when its values are above 1000. For this process, a visitor presses and releases any area to play the animation.



Production and Bringing Everything Together

On the flip side of the canvas, I attached all the wires which made electronics visible.








The USB extender supported the idea to hide any wires. However, it could further help if I had used an HDMI extender and overhead projector to hide the projector and move laptop into a different room.



The canvas received appreciation as art is usually not to be touched but the interactivity and accessing art through a direct tap on the canvas brought new ideas to life. Few artist who interacted with canvas seemed delightful about using conductive ink on their own canvas.

Moreover, during critique various thinking points were suggested which helped the make project more canvas. These included making the narrative stronger, putting the canvas on a greater height, hiding most wires, discovering rear projection.


  1. 18”x24” Canvas
  2. Conductive Ink
  3. Arduino Micro
  4. Pico Projector
  5. Jumper Wires
  6. 3x Resistor 1.0M Ohm


Large Scale Adaption.

This technique could be used in conferences as a backdrop to engage visitors about telling stories of products, interactive exhibitions and many others.




  1. Ayres, C.  (2015). How Dalziel and Pow Realized This Awesome Interactive Touch Wall. Retrieved from URL;

  1. Studio,L. (March,2019). Dublin Interactive Mural. Retrieved from URL:


  1. (January, 2019). 365 Safe Town (Korea Youth Safety Experience Center). Retrieved from URL:


  1. High-Low Tech Group. Living Wall. Retrieved from URL:





Interactive Canvas

  1. Project Title

Interactive Canvas (Working title) by Arsalan Akhtar


  1. Project Description


Ambient advertising is key to win consumers today which encourages discovery of various story telling tools. The “walls” around us are an empty canvas that could tell a lot of interactive stories. Thus, I would like to make an interactive wall that tells a story through sound or display when in close proximity. The subject of the story is about breach of digital privacy and how we in this digital age have given permissions to mobile apps that we use daily.


  1. Parts, Materials and Technology


  • Arduino micro
  • Resistors
  • Conductive Material
  • Projector
  • Piece of wood
  • Processing and Arduino Software
  • Photoshop for illustration


  1. Work Plan


  • Nov 20-22 : Low fidelity prototyping with arduino, conductive material and resistors
  • Nov 23-24: Work on processing to discover storytelling drawing
  • Nov 25-26: Procure wood and engrave storytelling assets
  • Nov 27-28: debugging of hardware and software
  • Nov 29-Dec1: debugging of physical installation
  • Dec 2: test run
  • Dec 3-4: Display


  1. Physical Installation

A rectangle piece of wood or paper (around 6ftx6ft) attached or hung against the wall with story engraved on it and facing a projector. The visitors could interact with features on the wall and learn about the story. Thus, a flat wall such the DF gallery could be a great place.

  1. Resource list 


  • a bracket to hold the piece of canvas against the wall.


Thank you







Interaction Installation On Women’s Violence


This interactive installation explores one of the ways to create awareness on domestic violence for women which is observed in the month of October and November each year for example the campaign titled “Shine the Light” by using aesthetics to induce visitors. This experiment triggers audiences’ attention through an immersive experience by asking them to step on bare shoes to induce the question “how does it feel to be in their shoes” which displays stories of real women undergone domestic violence, and how visitors can support them. In this installation, movement of visitor on the bare shoes was detected by a pressure sensor which resulted in display of images of screen. The purpose of this installation is to engage visitors on domestic violence faced by women which is not so ubiquitous in interactive public art. The use of shoes was an outcome of reviewing various installation on women’s issues.


This could be applied on a street to trigger responses from pedestrians with the following layout:



Project Context – Aesthetic and Conceptual

Shine The Light on Women Abuse is a real campaign of the London, Ontario, Abused Women’s Center. Similarly, there are many other campaigns running in October and November to address the same issue. This subject is close to me as there is a lot installation and awareness required to impact how society works but in an immersive way.


Keeping this campaign in mind, I began browsing about how public art is being used as medium to address similar issues. One project that really inspired me is titled ” Embodying Culture: Interactive Installation On Women’s Rights” which lays emphasis on using project mapping on historical painting which feeds data from twitter on the issue.


The above paper inspired me to using twitter stories on a slider but I was missing more a more aesthetic representation on the complex subject. Thus, I looked around for that and particularly got intrigued by use of shoes where Yanköşe’s project who hung 440 pairs of women’s shoes on public art.




Imagery and color palette to display posters were designed using the Shine The Campaign guidelines and were made as follows.




The list of hardware used to design the isntallation are as follows:

  1. Shape of shoes using the maker lab
  2. FSR sensor
  3. A rug
  4. Arduino Micro






For the Software, following two tools were utilized:

  1. Arduino; Connect FSR pressure sensor and read Analog values for above zero as it detect stepping of a person
  2. Processing; All values were sent from Arduino into processing using serial monitor to create IF loop and load image similar to visuals shown above

As a result we were able to complete this project like below:





Reference Links: