Author Archive

Floating City

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We created a “Floating City”, which is a typical part of the fantasy world. It is similar to the existing themes in amusement parks, in which everything is out of this world similar to a dream or a magic place. Floating City is a sign of fantasy that only appears in novels and movies, in this installation, we used physical technology, sensors and code to create an interactive city. We tried to change the normal functions of a balloon by making it hover in air like a magic city while turning the whole room into a fantasy world.

While brainstorming we kept in mind the emotions the visitors might experience while playing like Anticipation, excitements, Anxiousness and happiness among others.  In this project, we reflected and created the atmosphere of happiness, when people interact with our installation, they will feel the similar joy of being in an amusement park.




We used The balloon as the main visual of our installation Because of its typical association with happiness. In most times, balloons are used in happy events, parties, amusement parks and so on.


  • Balloon
  • Helium
  • Paper
  • 3 Bright LED
  • plastic for the structure to hold the motors
  • 2 motors
  • 2 helicopter blades
  • 1 RGB LED ring
  • 1 ping sensor
  • 2 XBEE
  • 2 arduino



Physical theory

To make the balloon hover in air, it’s necessary to add a specific weight depending on the weight of the balloon to resist the floating force of helium. When the weight is balanced, the 2 propellers will make the balloon move forward or turn around.



The Game

Players can use two buttons to control the movement of the balloon. Each button can trigger one of the propellers to change the direction to  either left or right and if pressed together the balloon will move forward. In order to win, the players have to bring the balloon close to the LED ring

which is placed on the wall attached to an ultrasonic sensor that can detect the distance. Once the balloon is close enough to the target, The LED ring will change from blue to different RGB colors.

Function and Code (2 days)















Notes on Process

Brainstorming (Week 1)

We had a very long and intensive brainstorming session to explore ideas and inspirations. Since the theme of this project is about amusement parks, we started with one question: How do people feel while they are in the theme park?

We listed every emotion a person might feel and depending on these emotions we transformed each feeling into an act. Then, depending on these acts we created some concepts and later on we focused on developing the best concepts into an interactive installation. Since we had so many ideas choosing one with the best potentials of development was not easy. At last settled on happiness, mesmerizing, and fantasy like as our main objective of this project. FLOATING CITY




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Physical Theory and Material Preparation (7 days)

Because the physical theory is the most essential part of this installation. We did a lot of research about the floating force and air flow theory so we watched a lot of projects and we tried to do some experiments. To make the helium balloon hover in air, the weight should be very accurate and equal to the floating force. It’s hard to test it because it’s not only about this, it’s also about the motor’s power, weight, and the shape of the propeller, they all together affect the balance of the balloon.


The First Experiment

In the first experiment we used a 3 feet balloon which can only hold 300 g. We had two problems, one with the weight and the other one with the structure. We tried to mount the motors to the balloon but we failed because the structure was not balanced and the fans were not strong enough to move the balloon. For this experiment we made two prototypes for the structure and we also had two motors. At 4 am the balloon burst while experimenting. The whole process was risky because the balloon is very fragile, and it keeps losing helium over time, which leads to a serious problem of balance.


The second Experiment

Even though we were planning to use a 4 foot balloon for our final installation, we went with a 3 feet balloon again because it costs less and in this stage we were not sure if it was going to work or not. We bought different sizes of motors, but the problem was always with finding a light motor with enough power. We tried different sizes of computer fans and we even tested the blades of the drones but they all failed. We finally found the perfect  type of  motor and the right kind of blades (helicopter).


The Final Project

We got the 4 foot balloon on Friday  night because we didn’t want to risk losing helium which will affect the weight of  the balloon. Since we had a late start the last two days were very critical.

However by that time the structure of the propeller was ready. so in this stage we started to think more about the look of the balloon and the dynamics of the game.    We had so many ideas to explore but not enough time. Here are some of the ideas we experimented with.



Choice of motor




Structure for the motors
IMG_6686Model 3


IMG_6661Model 4
_MG_0656Final Model






_MG_0659Attempt to make the encoder sensor steer the balloon


We explored a lot of ideas about how to extend the concept of the balloon. Before the idea of the floating city we thought about the dynamic of the human face using paper since it’s the lightest material we could think of. We wanted to hide the balloon and cover it with three floating faces in which each face can different personality that can only be seen when interacting with. Then we thought about the beauty of origami and how the light can show the details of the folded paper but the problem was that it requires lots and lots of weight as well. Then we moved on to the floating city. At first, we were planning to cover the whole balloon with three different cities but again we have a limit amount of weight.

When we got the balloon and we started testing the concepts, we found it’s impossible to cover the whole balloon because of the weight balance. Finally we decided to only build 3 groups of abstract buildings, and put super bright led inside the buildings, to make it as the buildings at night and every room is turned on. We also wanted to take the concept further and cover the ceiling of the room but because the time and the cost we decided not to.



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Final Project








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Case Studies

1.RC Car

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Interaction: person to object, object to object

Technology: radio control, mechanisms

Interaction: person to object, object to object

Technology: radio control, mechanisms

Narrative: simple

RC car is a typical toy that can be played both indoor and outdoor. Using radio-control technology, players can control the movement of the car without touching the wires. Based on this game, we had so many ideas that can be developed from it. There are two main directions to improve this game, the first one is to change the material of the object, and in our installation we changed the car into a balloon, which is more challenging. The second thing is about the design of the controller. In our installation, we added a simple game to give the movement a purpose that can make players immerse in the experience. In terms of interaction, depending on this direction, more complex and challenging game can be designed, using sensors (for example, ultrasonic sensor, pressure sensor, movement sensor and so on) to let players interact with each other, which means adding an object interaction to an object, and it can be even a person to a person.

To transfer the whole room into a fantasy world theme, we developed this example by changing the object to balloon, which was in the shape of a floating city, and we added a simple game to turn to change it into an installation where people feel happy and mesmerized.


2.Bernoulli Floating Ball


Interaction: object to object

Technology: mechanisms, physics

Narrative: simple

As the name suggest, it uses a tube and a fan to create a moving stream of air that keeps a light ball suspended in mid-air, giving evidence for one of the predictions of Bernoulli’s equation.

The theory of this installation is, because the movement of the air, the air pressure above the tube is lower than the other part, so it keeps the ball in the steam of air.

Depending on this theory, this installation can be designed to be more interactive. Each fan can be controlled separately. The relationship between this installation and our project is the concept of floating. We got this inspiration from this installation but then; we developed the same concept into


3.Floating Water Sport Park


Interaction: person to object

Technology: physics

Narrative: simple

The floating playground is a great place to relax and have fun in summer days. This floating water sport park is called Wibit Sports, which was produced by a German watersports company. In this playground, there are many slides , for example, high jump, swing, bridge, balance beam and so on. It transfer the surface of water into a playground.


4.Cyclone Arcade Game

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Interaction: person to object

Technology: sensor

Narrative: linear

This arcade game can detect the position of the light. The button can stop the moving light so if the moving light stops in the middle of the circle, the player will get a high score. The theory is similar to our project, judging the result by the distance and how close the player to the light.



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Interaction: person to object, object to object

Technology: sensor, physics, mechanism

Narrative: nonlinear

Drone is one of the sources of our inspiration. Drones can be built with an Arduino and combination of sensors that can receive data from the controller enable it to move on its own. The theory and mechanism is similar to our project, use propeller to raise the weight and control the direction. It’s a typical example for wireless device that have a strong relationship with Arduino. This type of drone can be used in different ways because of it small scale and dexterity.























Misty Window




An interactive installation that displays a movie hidden under a circular viewport controlled by a custom tracking code on the viewer with a webcam.

The idea behind my project was formed through a mixture of different concepts and inspirations. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do an interactive installation, however the question was where do I start. I faced many difficulties upon deciding the direction I want to take for the project, so to proceed I decided to explore Processing and conduct simple experiments to understand the limitations of the program. I tried to test different forms of water from bubbles to dry ice, however due to the time constraint my options were limited. Following my tests, I tried to figure out a way to use water as a trigger, but since we are using Processing, I chose to project or use projection in an unconventional way. After a great deal of research for inspirations, I came upon various projects that utilize projection; one of the projects was a projection of a 3d rabbit on steam using three cameras.



The installation consists of a fog screen, webcam, and a projector. The fog screen intended to be used as a display for the movie. The idea behind the projected movie was inspired by the concept of this project. Since it is all about water, it was fitting to choose a video that explores the sea and the creatures it holds. The way the installation works is as the viewer approaches the installation, a movie will be projected on the fog. As they get closer, the webcam will detect their faces using FaceOSC app- Tool for prototyping face-based interaction- and they will be able to explore the video through a circular viewport. The viewport is scaled and positioned according to the movement of the head. As the viewers move towards the installation and get closer, the circle will increase in size and as they move further it will decrease allowing them to control the zoom level of the scene. Another part of the installation is a box with bright LED that only lights up when contacted with the steam. The viewers will be provided with transparent boxes that they will use to fill it with the steam coming from the screen. This represent




  • Processing
  • FaceOSC
  • Video Projection Tool (VPT)



  • 2 Humidifiers
  • 47 Straws
  • 2 hoses
  • Black board frame
  • 1 Projector
  • Macbook pro
  • Logitech webcam web cam





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The Drift table

Water Light Graffiti



Smile TV








Experiment 1

In this experiment I wanted to test the projector and to explore projection on different surfaces. For this experiment I used VPT -multipurpose projection software tool, and since it was my first time using it I tried to explore it by projecting onto different surfaces with various shapes. In this video, I tried to map a video that was already installed in the program onto a sweatshirt. I used three different layers of the same videos to cover the whole shirt. Due to my limited experience with the program, it took me a while to cover all of the edges, however after trying multiple times I was able to achieve the goal. This helped me to understand the tricks involved in mapping and how to apply this knowledge into my project. As I learned how to control each layer I discovered the capacity of the VPT to produce complex projects.




Experiment 2

The next step in projection was to choose the surface and the items involved. At the time of this experiment, I have already figured out the concept behind the project so I tried to play with the materials. My first choice was to project on steam, so I bought one humidifier and a couple of straws to produce steam that has the structure of a fog screen. I also took the hose out from my vacuum to connect the straws to the humidifier. The tricky part of this experiment was the uncertainty of how clear the projection would be. While testing I found out the best thing is to project things with less detail for the best resolution. The colors should be bright and have strong contrast between them.




Experiment 3

After the previous experiment, I had to figure out the position of the projector to the fog screen. Trying to do so, I encountered multiple problems. I had to create 3 prototypes to find out the optimal position, but sadly each one of them failed. One of the problems was with the straws because I had to tap each two straws together multiple times to ensure that the steam will not escape. However, the tape couldn’t seal the steam because I didn’t use waterproof tape. After solving this issue, I commenced testing the position of the fog screen. The first position I tested was based on my initial idea for this project where the fog screen will be viewed from the top. However since the steam coming from the side and the straws are horizontally laid, the steam was not strong enough and water kept piling up inside the straws. Another issue, the projector has to be placed within a certain distance and the best position for that is to have the straws position vertically.




Experiment 4:

In this experiment, I tested FaceOSC app for the first time. In order to figure out how does it actual work I had to look for examples. This is one of the codes I found belongs to Adam Bendror. I tried to mimic the same style to understand more about the tracking of each feature but I couldn’t because of the time limit. This illustration was made in DMesh. However, I tried to learn how exactly does tracking works in FaceOSC.






Experiment 5&6:

In this experiment I wanted to explore the visuals projected on the steam. I wanted to make the viewer explore the screen with something similar to looking through a peephole. At first I didn’t know how I could achieve that in Processing so I tried to draw a circle but of course it wasn’t successful and I couldn’t figure out how I would be able to make it. So I tried another option less direct but much simpler. I draw a black rectangle and subtracted a circle in the middle with photoshop. This rectangle will be following the head movements using FaceOSC so for that I had to make the shape really big so when the camera track the face we cannot the see the edge of the rectangle. After I achieved that I wanted to explore other options for what I can hide underneath the peephole so I uploaded a movie clip and the result was amazing. I loved the movement in the video and the soothing music. After that I tried to make another version with white rectangle instead of the black to see later in projection which one has more impact. The best thing in Projection on steam is to choose visuals with least details and with the strong colors and contrast to obtain the best resolution.





Experiment 7

The idea was to connect two applications that are working on a video together. I wanted to create visuals in processing and pipe them into VPT for live interactive Projection. I thought it was going to be hard and tricky since I’m using both FaceOSC and Processing and now I’m adding VPT to the mix. However, converting the file was indeed an easy solution. All of this was possible because Syphon server can work really well with audio and video. Syphon as explained in the official website (Syphon is an open source Mac OS X technology that allows applications to share frames – full frame rate video or stills – with one another in real time). It allows third party to access any video. To apply the syphon code, I had to download the library in Processing and then I had to write a couple of codes.





Experiment 8:

In this experiment, I tried to add another interactive part to the installation that highlights the water (mist). After coming up with the final concept of the installation, I started exploring ideas that can be done with Arduino.

After much research I decided to use a steam sensor to trigger a bright Light. In this case, the viewer will be offer a transparent box that they can fill it up with the magical mist (steam coming from the screen) and after couple of seconds the box will light up. After the mist solely vanish, the light will fade out as well. This experiment had a mesmerizing affect with the colorful LED surrounded with an aura of fog.




Processing is a very useful tool to achieve greatness but time is needed for that. In this project I encountered multiple problems all related to timing issues. As I was adjusting and mounting my installation things started to collapse. Some of the straws started to fill with water and that stopped the steam from coming out. It actually worked perfectly the week and the night before but an hour before the presentation everything seemed not to work. In the last minute I was able to save some of the straws but I couldn’t show the second part of the installation.



Thank you to Jenna and Glen for their tremendous help.








Hands of The Undead

soulful hands3




A perfectly fit space station disappeared in the year 1976 with all of its crew vanishing without a trace. The “cursed space station” is what many of us in the field called it; all of us truly believe that the station is damned. Every astronaut that was sent to the station never made it back to earth. Contact with the astronauts is always lost after few hours in the station. The 7-year mark since it last appeared is fast approaching; we can’t afford to lose another one of our guys. Something must be done, perhaps this time we can conquer the space station and solve its secrets without losing another astronaut. We collected all the data we gathered over the last 40 years, everything that we ever got from all astronauts sent to the station. Data gathered from each astronaut gave us a limited perspective of the station; however compiling the data from the 5 different astronauts gave us more realistic and accurate perspective. We proceeded, with the help of our genius engineers, to develop a virtual reality that replicates the station and its horrifying parts. The computer-generated environment was created through the use of sophisticated algorithms that utilized the different forms of data we gathered. The results shocked us to our core. One of the most horrifying areas of the space station was a room full of severed hands. The reason this room is the most horrifying is due to the fact that these severed hands were placed inside the walls, which appears to be made of stretched fabric. The hands attack anyone who steps foot in the room. We called it “hands of the undead”. Once you step into the room, which is made possible thanks to the VR program, first you are welcomed with freaky sounds. Once you pass by the walls, the severed hands will start attacking and attempting to suck you into the wall. After many hours of studying the room and entire station, a revelation came to us. What we once perceived as an attacking mechanism, we know believe is the body parts of the lost astronauts attempting to escape the station and never succeeding.



What started as a passing idea, turned into a collaborative effort to combine our individual projects and present them as part of one storyline. Myself and 4 other classmates (Glen, Jenna, Cynthia and Gary) believed that we could take this individual assignment and turn it into something more, an initiative that was indeed a learning opportunity for all of us. The storyline is based on a cursed space station that disappeared in 1976 and kept mysteriously reappearing every 7 years. The story involves 4 astronauts who were sent to the cursed space station to investigate, each on their own. 7 years apart from each other, the astronauts embarked the cursed space station to investigate an unknown signal. Every astronaut had a different fate in the cursed space station, each of our projects depicts the fate of a different astronaut. The first astronaut turned into an alien, as seen in Glen’s project; turning into half-robot half-human was the fate of the second astronaut as depicted by Gary’s project. Cynthia’s work represents the third astronaut who faced a cruel fate and was turned into a vicious baby. My project represents all the astronauts who are trapped in the cursed space station and trying to escape, but failing to do so. Jenna’s project demonstrates the sprite of these trapped astronauts, which escaped their bodies but remain trapped in the space station.



The inspiration behind the use of fabric and the incorporation of object movement on fabric using servo motors is based on the following project. I was inspired by the fact that simple movement of several servo motors can produce a different outcome each time. This helped me to form the idea of using fabric for the walls and having the motors behind it.


The following project helped in the birthing of many great ideas, ones that are ambitious and challenging to develop in two weeks. The interaction between the object and the audience inspired me to construct an elaborate object that can be found in the space station.


Circuit diagram:

haunted house_bb


Circuit components:

(1) Arduino board
(4) Servo motors
(1) Ping sensor
Multiple Wires

The Code:


Design Process:



Final Outcome:

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Challenges & discoveries

The main challenge at the beginning was my limited knowledge of Adruino and its capabilities. This created a serious obstacle that I needed to overcome through intensive research and vigorous studying. Coming from a graphic design background, my aim was to develop a visually appealing project. This derailed my understanding of the real objective of the project, which is to create a responsive scary environment.

The planning and forecasting of the project was something that I did not pay attention to, which led to the demise of my initial project. The initial project was ambitious; it involved the purchase of many shield motors. After purchasing the first one, I realized how expensive and time consuming my idea was and I immediately abandoned it.

After having to overcome serious obstacles, the next challenge was finding the right material that is able to showcase the impact of the hands movement. Attaching the hands to the motor was a challenging task while taking into accounting the weight tolerance. It was no easy task to mount the motors with the hands on the base. Using clay as a base was working at the beginning, however later on it turned out to be a weak form of base. This led to the shift to wood, with the use of duct tape, as a base due to the time constraint.



Special thanks

I would like to thank each one of the following individuals for their appreciable amount of support and feedback.

Glen, Gary, Jenna and Cynthia .


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