The inspiration behind this project was to create a breathable, innovative space in the CMU IDeaTe lab space, through the implementation of an interactive wall, which would encourage collaborations and additions to the wall. We wanted to simulate the behavior of fireflies because they have a calming effect on the mind, through building a window which gave a glimpse into an “artificial marsh.” We also wanted to make sure that the sound of the fireflies and how they reacted would be shown, through mechanisms like solenoids and green LEDs powered by Arduinos. We believe that the build quality and overall look and feel are in scope for this project. We also believe that our technical execution can be in scope but feel that the scope should focus more on the technological execution rather than the complexity and difficulty of the technological features.
This project was implemented with a variety of fabrication techniques and a combination of sensors and microcontrollers. Since physical product design was important to us we designed the wood paneling and the front box that housed the Arduino that controlled the noisemakers (solenoids). We sanded the wood and painted it with careful placement of the artificial weeds as to create unique viewing experience. The technological implementation was placing an Arduino, breadboard, and 2 solenoids in the front of the board while wiring the back of the board with conductive tape to maintain thinness and taping the Arduino and LEDs to the board. In addition to the hardware, there was quite a bit of programming of the LEDs, and the solenoids. The LEDs are lighting up at random with their pace of illumination being based on a proximity of the viewer in front of the artifact (read in by a sensor placed in the front of the artifact). The solenoids are also activating in a rhythmic pattern and changing their delay to create different tones and patterns. Future iterations could potentially add more sensors and be more reactive to users and the area around them.
This artifact was able to show that simulating a real life event was possible and through very simple systems and computing power. Issues that arose were that the actual construction limited where objects could be placed and how some technology could be implemented. We also had trouble with conductive tape which is somewhat finicky and could be difficult getting consistent results. The front facing sensor also did not sense as far as we had hoped creating scenarios in which the LEDs would not. Overall we did a good job of having an intuitive experience with close to product level detail. We captured the attention of the audience while having them also interact with the wall installation.
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