Soul Cycle

Serena M Parr

Intimate bicycle-powered worship experience for 1 user at a time, featuring choir/ambient music through headphones and pedal-powered electric candles, housed within a small simple wooden structure with fake stained glass windows made of tissue paper


My project is a bicycle generator that runs a DC motor to power an apparatus of electric candles surrounding the stationary biker. It’s inspired by the religiosity of Soul Cycle. While powering candles, the user will also listen to choir music on headphones. The music won’t be powered by the bike, but by a battery powered boom box sitting inside of the bike’s front basket. The electric candles will be supported by a simple wooden frame made of 1″ x 2″ beams.

The piece requires at least 4′ x 7′ and would ideally be set up in a dark room.

I’ve built the bike generator and have measured its output on a multimeter. The bike puts out 5V – 9V depending on pedal power. I’ve also rewired 20 electric candles to start. (I plan to rewire many more. Each candle is rated at 3V, so I will set them up in two-candle series circuits sharing 6V across however many parallel circuits.)

In progress:
I still need to build a simple wooden frame to support the candles surrounding the user, and build a few more safeguards to secure the bike trainer onto the platform so that it doesn’t move.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Interactive Origami Lighting

Mathura Govindarajan, Cristina Cannella

Interactive modular origami lights that responds to change in physical arrangement.


The project involves a modular origami structure with lighting inside them. The origami model is designed such that its spatial arrangement can be changed by manually moving it. Each movement results in different 'circuits'. That is, a different arrangement leads to a different circuit connection which in turn changes the behaviour of the light inside the model. The main interaction is physical in the sense that it has to be handled and played with to see changed in the lighting.


Introduction to Physical Computing, Introduction to Physical Computing


Ruta Kruliauskaite, Shir David, Xiwei Huang

Fun toy to introduce a three year old to the concepts of electronics.


Stacklight is an educational toy for kids to introduce electronics in the appealing hands-on way.

The goal of the game is to introduce electronics through big objects, colors and shapes. We want to encourage kids to recognize patterns, organize and play by stacking the objects.

User age: ~3 year old.

How does Stacklight work? Each of the Stacklight pieces light up as the kids stack them.

The full brief can be found here:

Stacklight presentation:

Full documentation:

Project members: Xiwei Huang, Shir David, Ruta Kruliauskaite.

Implemented in the Intro to Physical Computing Class by Benedetta Piantella.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Semaphore Jacket

Zoe Bachman

A wearable that uses visual symbols and gesture to communicate peaceful messages and confront discrimination.<br />


I’ve been thinking a lot about the current refugee crisis, specifically why many Americans see refugees as violent instead of peaceful. As someone who used to work with refugees, I know they struggle to disprove stereotypes, particularly since English isn’t their first language.

Many people are working to design solutions for the refugee crisis, so I thought, what could I create that would give refugees a way to communicate peace?

I started brainstorming a wearable, since clothes have a history of carrying messages. I thought about the different ways one could illustrate “we come in peace”, like the act of waving a white flag. Communicating with flags reminded me of semaphore, a maritime language used between ships, which seemed appropriate given that many refugees are traveling by boat. There’s a precedent of using semaphore to illustrate peace – the peace sign is actually the letters N and D (for nuclear disarmament) in a circle. Semaphore is also a programming term relating to access – quite appropriate, given the refusal of many Governor’s (including Larry Hogan of Maryland) to let refugees into a country.

The wearable is a rain jacket that has LEDs at the bottom of the sleeves that are programmed and arranged to look like flags. The user turns on the LEDs by closing a snap in the middle of the jacket.

Once the user is wearing the jacket, they’ll stand in front of a camera and perform a message using the semaphore alphabet. The images will be stitched together into a .gif and uploaded to the blog as a record of their message.

For the show, a video tutorial on how to communicate with semaphore will be displayed to instruct users on how to communicate using the language. The collection of gifs created during the show will be displayed alongside.

Users can also take a print out that has information about the refugee crisis, the semaphore alphabet and the website where they can view their gifs and the rest taken at the show.

It should be said that this object is gesturing at these ideas rather than providing a solution. I’m interested in interrogating alternative forms of communication while using symbols related to this specific narrative, while bringing awareness to this very serious situation.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Extraterrestrial AI

Jamie Ruddy

Did you ever talk to an alien? Now is your chance to chat with an extraterrestrial and ask him anything you like.


PETI, the Institute for the Pursuit of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, finally succeeds. By beaming out a signal through an array of radio telescopes, Dr. Andrej Raspinofski receives word back. But instead of hearing from a planet 22-light-years away, he is contacted by an alien who is broken down near Saturn. The extraterrestrial is willing to talk while he fixes his spaceship.

My Extraterrestrial AI is an exploration into interactive storytelling. I wanted to build a fictional character the user can fully interact with instead of a traditional narrative that is read or viewed. Over time I hope to build this character into a more fully developed “alien” and give the story a character arc. For now, please enjoy a fun chat with him.


Introduction to Computational Media, Introduction to Physical Computing

The Assistive Mat

Olivia Cueva

A mat to assist elderly people who need extra help when they are on the move.


The Assistive Mat is designed for elderly people who need assistance, but may not want to ask for it. When stepped on, the mat sends a text message to their caretaker’s cell phone, notifying them that their assistance is needed. With the assistive mat, caretakers won't have to hover and can come to the rescue when the mat has been stepped on.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Untitled (for you)

Gustavo Eduardo de Campos Abbott

What you see is what you get.


The comparability between silenced thoughts and invisible infrared (IR) light intrigues me. Both exist and persist, yet go unseen/heard at all times. We are aware of both phenomena, and that with a bit of effort we can find a means to reveal either, yet choosing to do so lies entirely upon our individual dispositions. I am reminded of the opening sentence to the short story “The Depressed Person” by David Foster Wallace:

“The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing actor in its essential horror.”

One could ask: if someone is yelling and wailing in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does this person have nothing to say? We all have our own internal demons and/or thoughts and opinions we may take to the grave, however we choose to conceal said internalities for a myriad of reasons. This may be likened to German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s Spiral of Silence Theory, which “stipulates that individuals have a fear of isolation, which results from the idea that a social group or the society in general might isolate, neglect, or exclude members due to the members’ opinions. This fear of isolation consequently leads to remaining silent instead of voicing opinions. (Wikipedia)”

The method of using emblematically analogous infrared light as a means to divulge silences attempts to draw attention to the fact that just because something is not seen (or heard) does not mean that it is lacks depth or does not exist in the first place.


Introduction to Physical Computing, Introduction to Computational Media

Attitude Chair

Phil Guo, Wipawe Sirikolkarn, Yuan Xue

So you think you can sit.


Attitude chair is not a typical, passive chair but rather has a mind of its own. The chair deliberately turns away if it doesn’t want you to sit on. By doing this, we hope the users can engage and interact with such a passive, utilitarian object.


Introduction to Physical Computing

pineArt Box

Kevin G Stirnweis, Rebecca (Marks) Leopold

Create digital images using a mixture of natural elements and analog inputs.


pineArt Box invites people to create a digital image using natural elements like pine needles and analog inputs to customize the color. As users interact with the system a live stream of their work is displayed in front of them. Once they are satisfied they can create a copy of their image with a push of the button that will display their creation next to the live stream. As people interact with the system they can enjoy natural sounds of the woods and the scent of the pine needles to create a meditative and creative experience. pineArt Box explores the interaction between the digital and natural worlds, as well as the interplay between art and process.


Introduction to Physical Computing


Melanie Hoff, Shir David

Physical snowglobe creates digital snow over a live webcam footage


This project consists of a screen displaying a live webcam of NYC. On a small platform in front of the screen will sit a snow globe with the same NYC scene shown in the webcam within it. When a user shakes the snow globe, it will appear to snow in the live webcam. The speed and direction of the snowfall onscreen will mimic that of the snowfall in the globe.

The snow is a p5 simulation that connects to an Arduino in the bottom of the snow globe via serial communication. The snow simulation code is controlled by reading and mapping values from an accelerometer. Currently, the NYC webcam footage is actually a recording but we plan on directly embedding the live NYC webcam footage for the winter show.

This project playfully leverages the prevailing belief that live webcams represent the truth.

Melanie Hoff and Shir David created this for Benedetta Piantella's PCOMP mid-term.


Introduction to Physical Computing