A self-reflection experience that allows visitors to transform a memory into the light and express their associated emotions through unique dimming patterns and a final climactic animation.
Concept Development Experience Design Interface Design Audio Design Prototyping Physical Computing Programming Fabrication
Arduino MEGA p5.js Adobe Audition
Nov 2018 - Dec 2018
Reverie Field allows a visitor to store and transform a memory into the light in such a way that they must think about, and dive deeper into that memory and the emotions that are connected with it. ・・・・・・・・・・・・ Each visitor enters into a dark(ish) area with a hanging semi-circle of incandescent light bulbs. Initially, all of the bulbs are off but when the visitor places their hand on the console they are greeted and invited to begin the experience. An audio narrative prompts the visitor to reflect on the memory they are thinking about. When the visitor feels an emotional connection to that memory they are prompted to press a finger against a console interface. As the visitor begins pressing different fingers, they see the lights reacting in different ways. As the experience begins to finish each bulb holds its' current state and at the climax, the bulbs perform a unique animation that can be appreciated by the visitor. ・・・・・・・・・・・・ The incandescent light dimming and lighting up in various patterns are symbolic of the emotions the visitor is feeling at that time. Through letting the visitor see the result of their memory and emotions in the form of a unique lighting pattern, hopefully, visitors could appreciate their emotions and gain a deeper personal connection with themselves. ・・・・・・・・・・・・ The animated light pattern that arises at the end of the experience is meant to help keep the connotation of uniqueness to each experience. If the visitor decides to go through the Reverie Field again then they will have a different visual experience. We also have 2 variations of randomly assigned audio narrative with male and female voice respectively to create a little surprise and a slightly different feel for the revisits.
After talking with my electronic-background friend Morgan Mueller, we realized we have similar ideas and decided to collaborate together. Morgan originally wanted to create light arrays that store memory and have another person or machine operate or manipulate that memory. While I was thinking about tapping into the vulnerability and emotions in people and express them through lights. We eventually combined our ideas, landed on this concept, and decided to call our project Reverie Field.
Reverie field - a field of light bulbs that stores the memories of a user and transforms/manipulates them in such a way so that the visitor must think about and dive deeper into the emotions that are connected with each particular memory.
At the end of the experience when the lights drop down the goal is to have people reflect on the memories they thought of and emotions that were associated with those memories and come to the conclusions that all of these things in part make them who they are.
We first started trying to light up the bulbs with power tail and relay but they could only help light up and dim one bulb. After consulting with an ITP research resident Yeseul Song, we tried lighting up and dimming 8 bulbs at once with the 8 channel dimmer that we borrowed from Daniel Sorano and the testing light bulbs we bought.
Then we switched the testing light bulbs with the incandescent light bulbs that we chose for our actual project, and it worked great!
During our first play test with prerecorded audio, laser cut acrylic console interface design, hanging cardboard light bulbs, and a drawn circle symbolizing the size of the light array, we got a lot of great feedbacks from our peers, including voice preference for audio, insights into the interface design, and how they perceive the light controlled by their fingers.
We assembled our own 8 channel dimmer from scratch referencing the dimmer we borrowed. It successfully lit up all 8 bulbs as well. We also started testing with 5 FSRs.
Then we tested 15 light bulbs all lit up together with an Arduino MEGA that provides us sufficient pins to plug in our light bulbs. It worked well with our 5 FSRs and we successfully controlled the light patterns with them.
Though we came a long way, the FSRs were not as responsive as we would like.
This is how we started...
First get the brightness of the light bulb to correspond to the pressure measured on the FSR and after a certain threshold the light bulb would dim repeatedly by itself.
Then we managed to get different light bulb light up after the first one started dimming repeatedly on its own.
Eventually, what we wanted to do is to have one light bulb light up the first time that particular FSR is pressed, then another light up when that FSR is pressed the second time. Each FSR would be able to light up 3 light bulbs in total. The forth time it is pressed, the first light bulb would be controlled.
We programed all of the 5 FSRs and it worked!
After rerecorded our audio guide with two other peers Maya Pruitt and Nick Gregg, we started programming the activation part of our project. Since we designed our project to have a light show before the audio guide starts, in order to avoid using the delay code, I simply edited the audio file to have 10 seconds of blank at the beginning. We were planning on using a capacitive sensor but for prototyping we used a switch button instead.
While I was working on the activation, Morgan finished laser cutting the UI for the console, and then we sticked the acrylics into a box together. We put the neopixels and the FSRs we soldered on a board we put in the back of a paper underneath the black acrylic on the top. Then we made a hole so that the wires could stick out and connect to the breadboard Morgan soldered.
We were nervous about whether the circuit would work after we stick out the wires and soldered everything, and it did work!
Then we (well mainly Morgan cause he is way taller) started putting up the light bulbs by tying them onto the structure already built on the ceiling with zip ties.
After carefully plugging in all the wires onto our Arduino Mega again...
For our second playtest, we came a long way by making the FSRs work with controlling different light bulbs each time they are pressed, fabricating our console with the LEDs and FSRs embed, and setting up the light apparatus.
However, after testing with some peers we realized the FSRs weren't responsive enough probably because of the black acrylic hand shape on top.
so we took it off exposing the FSRs, neopixels underneath the paper.
Then we did the playtest with the exposed hand and a pair of headphones to play the audio guidance hoping to give a more intimate feel.
One of the most important takeaway from our playtest is that even without the acrylic the FSRs were still not responsive enough, the users have to press really hard to get the light bulbs to light up.
We figured out it was prob not the acrylic's problem nor the hardness of the Styrofoam board that the FSRs were not responsive, it was prob the gap between the paper and the sensor underneath. Hence, I first cut out only the paper above the FSRs and then sticked the FSRs out. I also cut little cardboard circles and sticked them underneath the FSRs which were double taped to the back of the black acrylic, and Morgan cut some woods to put underneath the board so that the board inside the console box was supported when the FSRs were pressed. Then it worked wonder!
We also switched out the switch and put in the capacitive sensor, then sticked a copper tape to link the capacitive sensor underneath the black acrylic hand to the front of it then colored it black with sharpie after making sure it would not affect the capacitance.
Most importantly, throughout the whole time, our professor David Rios greatly helped us arrange our codes for the light bulbs and develop a great architecture which made it easier for us to program, test and debug our project.
Finally, after we added the opening animation of the light and the finale effect, our first successful complete iteration was almost done!
After fine tuning the speed of the opening we had some more user testing to make sure everything worked as we expected to other people as well.
Finally, we bent 2 PVC pipes and tied the light bulbs onto them after tying them onto the ceiling structure and fine tuning our codes and bugs.
We finished Reverie Field, and ready to exhibit at Winter Show 2018.
All of these would not be accomplished without my amazing project partner: Morgan!
Morgan and I stood next to our project during the whole show, check us out!
Check out our codes too!
We got selected to showcase in Times Square at Design Pavilion for Sound and Vision during NYC Design Week from May 10 - 22 2019. In order to fit our project into the pod that the organizer and sponsor provided us, and to make it more durable to operate automatically for 13 days touched by thousands of people at Times Square, we had to refine Reverie Field and redesign the console and the light apparatus, transforming it into something even more elaborate - Memory Capsule.
We gave it this name as the incandescent light bulbs needed to fit in the pod as the organizer planned the venue. If the array of light is in a 40 inch x 40 inch pod, and not surrounds the visitor anymore then Reverie Field did not make sense.
We took out a whole set of 7 light bulbs, and used the rest with one set of 8-channel dimmer. We replanned the light apparatus and make sure the lighting patterns would still make sense, and we redesigned the console so that it is durable to be pressed and touched by thousands of people for a span of 13 days outdoor. We ordered a white pedestal and laser cut the white acrylic at top to match with the white pod we were told (though it turned out to be black eventually it is a nice iteration of the black one we had for Winter Show 2018) with a hardboard beneath it to make sure the FSRs are super sensitive. Then we had plywood beneath the hardboard so that no matter how hard and how many times the FSRs or the hand was being pressed, it would not break like how our previous black acrylic one for Winter Show 2018 would. Then instead of having the headphones placed right next to the hand as it was previously designed, we decided to make a wooden nob to hang the headphones so that the interface fits perfectly on the pedestal.
Check out the codes here!