Interaction design

Arduino

User experience

School assignment

Team: Eva Baete & me

6 weeks

For this project we wanted to make a fun experience for children. We made an installation where children could dance together in a world of microorganisms and create music at the same time.

What we had to do

We had to make an installation for a Belgian film festival for children. This installation could be anything, from a game, to something informative, to an experience. Keeping in mind the theme of this years’ festival, dance, while also keeping in mind that the client would something that stimulates children. We could interpret this as movement, light, sound, learning something, anything really. We didn’t have any restrictions, we only had to make sure it would work for children from the age of 3 to 12.

Brainstorm

The years before us, a lot of people who had the same assignment (only with another theme), mostly made games. This is why we, while brainstorming, decided to go for an experience more than a game. We chose to go for an experience because of the ages of the target audience. It would be easy for children to come in and experience our installation without having to ask their parents what they had to do.

Goal

Dance simply together

This was our main goal. Making people dance together in a simple and easy way. No age restrictions, no movement restrictions, no participant restrictions. Anyone would be able to experience our installation. That’s why we chose for something big, so there could be more than one participant. Keeping in mind disabilities, we chose to use the visual aspect of light, but also the audio aspect of sound. We wanted to create something that sparks an interest, something that stimulates children to be curious.

Micro dancing

Getting inspired by thinking about microorganisms. Those microscopic organisms dancing up, around and in between everything. It made us think: “Maybe we could turn this around?”. So that’s what we did. We made an installation where children (actually anyone) can dance in between microorganisms.

While children are dancing through our installation, our motion-detecting microorganisms start to make sounds and light up when they detect any movement. To stimulate the microorganisms to keep making sounds and to keep lighting up, you have to keep moving.

Technologies used

We used PIR sensors to detect movement. These sensors use infrared rays to scan the room for movement. These are, together with LED lights, connected to an Arduino board. In our code we connect to Max, so we can generate sound with Ableton.

Building the structure

To build our installation, we worked with light materials, this is why we used PVC pipes. This way the installation is easy to move around and we could hide the wires inside the pipes. We also made a box where all the wires meet and are connected to the Arduino panel and the relais card.

Creating the organisms

Eva and I both know recycling is important and we always keep this aspect in mind. To build this project we had a lot of plastic waste from packaging. This is why we made the organisms, that are hanging down from the installation, out of recycled plastics. We asked friends and family to save up their plastics, so we could use that to make the organisms.

I am really proud of what we made for this assignment. We didn’t restrict ourselves while brainstorming. We didn’t keep in mind we both don’t really have the skills to build something. I learned a lot along the way from Eva’s boyfriend and his father. We encountered some problems while designing the installation, because we both don’t have a degree in architecture. We first wanted to build a triangle-like structure, but we couldn’t build that because the connections for the PVC pipes we used didn’t turn in the right angle. We had to figure out a new construction, that maybe wouldn’t be that sturdy, but in the end it actually worked out fine.