Ithai Benjamin
Vikram Tank

Set In Stone

Two interactive wireless cement fiber-optic light interfaces that respond to touch

Introduction to Physical Computing - Thur (Holoubek),The Softness of Things: Technology in Space and Form

Our project is an exploration of presence. People live in places separated by great physical and cultural distance. Over the past century, the distance between two people has gotten shorter allowing one to “reach out and touch someone” right over the telephone or internet. However, the projection of touch has so far only been conveyed through more formal means; to call or write a loved one required one to have a reason to call or involved cost to either party. Though the financial aspect of this transaction is minimal, the reasoning cost is still the same.

People don’t call to listen to each other breathe, videochat to watch each other walk around the house, or e-mail blank e-mails. Though it is possible to send your presence into another space it usually comes with a backing reason. The effect of this is that casual emotions are never expressed and often it is upon those that relationships thrive. The gentle pat on the shoulder, brushing of hands, handshakes, hugs, touches on the arms, pinches, caresses, drumming of fingers, holding hands, and the ribald smacks in laughing at a good joke. These incidental touches have no way of expression.
To that end we are creating Set In Stone. The panels will allow two people to connect to each other’s touch through light. Two panels placed away from each other communicate the image of one’s hand onto the corresponding panel and one can see the touch of a loved one as they place their hand on your hands image. The visual cue of an incidental touch. Our solution extends farther than loved ones to conflicted ones. Imagine a system like this placed between two unfriendly places, Tel Aviv and Gaza, Washington and Baghdad, Pakistan and India. In installation of these pieces in schools or public places could provide a link, however ephemeral that could contribute towards better relations or at least provide a human light to the “other” in each situation. Our project is about, presence, it is about touch, and it is about relationships.

Art as a vehicle for making connections between distant people. Our interest in projected presence, cement as a material, interactive light displays, multi-purpose control interfaces
We also drew inspiration from Maki Ueda's "Hole In the Earth" project

- Public installation
- Art gallery
- Performance

User Scenario
The two panels are in seperate locations/different countries. When someone touches one of the panels the other one lights up exactly where the first one touched and vice versa.
So if someone lays his hand on the first panel, the other one will light up with the shape of the first ones hand. Now if the second one puts his hand over the lighted hand the first one will light under their hand, allowing them to "touch" across great distances.

In other situations this can also serve as a multi-purpose control interface. It can trigger any type of event like music

Each interface is made out of a 11"x11" cement block interlaced with fiber-optics and wire seperated 1/2" apart (that's 400 fiber-optic strings). The fiber goes to a panel of 400 LEDS. The wire goes to 100 QPROX-240 Touch Sensors which go to 55 Shift Registers that are connected to a microcontroller that sends out signals to 7 LED drivers.
When the user touches the cement surface the lights will light up.

Implementing Zigbees for the panels to connect wirelessly

Parts cost money