Christine Doempke
Mimi Yin

Monster Valley

A furry, breathing terrain that yawns and groans, sighs and snores, giggles and gurgles as you stretch out on it, roll around, crawl and explore.

Introduction to Physical Computing

Monster Valley is a furry oasis that gives adults permission to lie down, roll around, and take a break from sitting, standing, and staring at screens all day.

Intended to be left in a quiet corner of a public space, Monster Valley is a play space for adults to de-stress and take a break by lying down and shifting their weight over the soft, furry, cooing and growling landscape. The sounds of "a creature within" the platform whimsically invite you move in ways you might not normally and give you permission to lie down, redistribute and shift your weight as you change your relationship with gravity. Perhaps it can become a pleasant alternative to the cigarette break.

Left alone, the floor hibernates like a big sleeping bear, breathing deeply. When the floor senses your weight, it responds in ways that invite you to lie down, wiggle around, crawl, roll over, and stretch out.

As you shift and move across the platform, you build a soundscape of yawns and sighs, snores, groans, roars, and coos, growls, gurgles, and giggles. The creature evoked is intended to be expressive and have it's own personality. It responds to your movement, but isn't wholly controlled by you. You can rile it up and calm it down in a variety of ways, but each person's experience of the piece is unpredictable and unique.

Our hope is that through interacting with the imaginary creature that is hidden below the terrain, you start to move in ways you don't normally move and discover new physical sensations and possibilities that are pleasantly surprising.

Primary Presenter: Christine Doempke -

- Modern dance, floor warm-up exercises
- Contact improv technique
- Wii Fit balance board games
- Totoro, the movie

- Last, but not least, our mid-term media controller project, which was also a full-body, movement-based interactive system:

- Anyone who is open to lying down in public.
- The stressed out and sleep-deprived.
- Any one over 100 pounds.
- Or any two or three small people who add up to more than 100 pounds.
- Kids, adults, old people.

User Scenario
You approach a contoured, breathing terrain. It could be a creature. It could be a dried up lake bed guarded by four gently sloping hills . You hear a low, grumbly breathing.

Remove your shoes and sit down on the platform…you hear a low growl in response.

Lie down and listen to it breathing.

Shift to one side and notice a feint snore. Shift more and the snoring grows as you roll towards the edge of the platform and rest there.

A slight wiggle sets off a feint giggle which grows as you continue to shift your weight rapidly. If you continue to do so for a long time, there's a BIG surprise.

Shift all the way to a corner and you set off a gurgling stomach, but only once in a while.

Lie still for a long time, you will start to hear a purring.

The sounds make you curious to move and explore in a mindful way, listening to how your movement affects the soundscape.

The soft, furry texture and spongy resistance and poofy loft of the terrain encourage that movement and exploration.

"Monster Valley" is made of a padded platform and four Force Resistance Sensors (FSRs), one at each corner. By using the FSRs to read the amount of force in each corner, we can calculate the percent and differentials of weight shifts in various directions on the board and use these numbers to map the movements of the user to the different triggered sounds.

The platform is made of a 4'x4' board supported by 4 milk crates with wooden platforms screwed into the tops. The FSRs are wrapped in foam envelopes and secured between the milk crates and the board platform.

The surface of the board is covered with foam, padding in strategic locations, and a soft furry wrapping.

Over the past several weeks, we've worked iteratively on the interaction, mapping out movement and setting thresholds and percentages that correlate with the various sounds and experimenting with the effect on the user.

We took a lot of care to orchestrate and time the sounds over the space so that you have a rich experience, and not a cacophony of noise. The types of sounds, volume, and timings are carefully designed to really create the experience of a creature and not an interactive keyboard. We wanted the creature to have personality with expressive intonations -- sometimes cute and sometimes a little scary.

In Progress Blog Posts:
Week 11:
Week 12:

It's been really satisfying finally having enough time to dig into interaction and behavior.

Our interaction is complex enough that we were able to truly appreciate the benefits of modularizing our code. We also had to really dig into the numbers we were getting from the sensors to get the specific movement-sound mappings we were looking for.

It was fun thinking through how to build a sturdy, yet lightweight and modular elevated platform, and how to design a surface that encourages the movement responses that we are aiming for without it being too obvious.

We broke serial communication in several ways between the Arduino and Processing. For all the gory details, refer to Week 12's update blog post. We also broke one of our fsrs trying to solder it.