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Fengyi Franklin Zhu

Experiencing form & transform through your hand



Our hands serve as our most powerful tools at almost any occasions, we point, we touch and explores the world with them. With this understanding our hands, further approach through experimenting with hands catches my interests, what if the hands can be even more power than just pointing or touching? What if it can transform objects?

This piece of installation satisfies my curiosity, it empowers the hands through technology and explores the line between digital and physical. Any person standing in front of the piece and wave their hand, the pattern starts transforming according to the movement of the person’s hand. Since the iris mechanism is a great way to enlarge and shrink the size of a circle, the piece is made out of 16 irises and each controlled by a servo, which can close and open freely with a simple rotation from the servo. The algorithm is generally determine the diameter of each ellipses according to the distance between the position of the person’s hand and the position of each ellipses, so that the ellipse gets bigger as your hand is far away and gets smaller as your hand is close to it. The transforming process is organic, which delivers a natural feel that portray any experiences with hands.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Happy Spotify Mirror

Yan Zhao

Happy Spotify Mirror is a smart mirror that can be triggered by smile to play spotify music and light up. The idea of this project is to break the traditional way of how to play online music and explore a different way of interaction between people and computer.



Happy Spotify Mirror is an experiment of exploring new interaction methods between people and computer.It will be displayed as a one-way through mirror with a monitor hidden at the back. At the first glance, it looks the same as a normal mirror. The special about it is it is an interactive mirror with music, graphic effect and lighting. It can play spotify music but is differ from the traditional way of playing online music; instead of screen interface, spotify app, or physical button, there is only a mirror for interaction. The only way to trigger it is to stand inside of specific distance and then smile to the mirror and hold the smile for seconds, then the music will be triggered, at the same time on the mirror will appear interesting graphics synching with the music. Lighting effect synching with the music will also happen around the mirror. If you want to change the music, go back to straight face and then smile again, you will change it to play another music. . If you keep the same smile after the music is triggered, you will see different colorful graphic effects. If you have different levels of smile, different music played by different instruments will be triggered. For example, if you are little happy, it is piano, if you are happier, it is ukulele. If you are very happy, it will be violin. Also when you change the distance from the mirror, you will change the volume of the music. For example, if you move towards the mirror, the volume will be louder, vice versa. In conclusion, the Happy Spotify Mirror is experimenting on making the interaction between people and computer much more interesting, natural and minimizing the perceptible invasiveness of computer.


Introduction to Computational Media, Introduction to Physical Computing

You've Got Rain

EunJee Kim

Lighting installation of a cloud that delivers promises on rainy or snowy days.



Rain symbolizes a promise kept from the sky for the plants and farmers. With such idea of rain as representation of promises, I wanted to build an interactive cloud installation that allows people to connect back with those who they could not keep their promises with. A person can send a message with the cloud installation. Only, the message will not be delivered immediately, but be stored on the cloud until it rains or snows in the city where the receiver lives in.


Introduction to Physical Computing


Xinyao Wang

An interactive creature has 10 hands, which can stretch out and give you many high-fives.<br />



It is alive. It can breath. It has 10 hands, which can stretch out and give you many high-fives. Before you touch it, it starts to deform and stretch out one of its’ hand. Then, you guys have a perfect high-five. However, if it stretch out to many hand at the same time, it will get tired and breath more rapidly. Kinect will sense the movement of the users’ hands, and send out data to PC. Then analyse the data and get rid of the noise with Processing. Arduino will receive the data of hand movement. Then control the linear actuators.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Foggy Mountain

Yuli Cai

Immerse in the music of foggy nature


Foggy Mountain is an installation that reflect the life of ancient Chinese literati. The life that immerse in the nature and play string instrument towards foggy mountain. It is an universal feeling to experience relaxed mood and unified soul while being surround by nature. Breath in, Breath out. We are actually interacting with nature every second. Guqin, is a special traditional string instrument in China, it has been endowed with our infinite emotional conversation with nature. Every time you play a string, it vibrate its sound out to nature. Foggy Mountain vivid these abstract feelings by visualising the sense of nature vibrating back.

By playing different strings, you will get rising fog from different areas according to the frequency of sound. The movement of pattern that being projected onto the fog is synced with the frequency of the string. The higher the frequency, the left the fog will show up, the faster the movement is.

Foggy Mountain use a guitar pickup as input, 50 fans to control the fog up and down and also a projector to project pattern.


Introduction to Physical Computing


Wangshu Sun, Yue Zhang, FY Zhu

BoomChaCha! is a physical musical role-playing game where three players will fight together against monsters.



About BoomChaCha!

This is a physical musical role-playing game(RPG) where three players will fight together against monsters, with magical weapons in their hands.

Basically there is a warrior attacking the monster, a defender defending all of the three, and a mage healing all of the three. The three characters share the same life so they will get hurt or get healed for the same amount of health.

Unlike most of the RPG games, BoomChaCha! is musical. This means it is always better to follow the rhythm while playing. There's always a “Boom Cha Cha, boom cha cha” six-beat pattern repeating itself in the 6/8 background music, which creates a feeling of dancing party rather than a dangerous fight. During the first three “Boom Cha Cha”, you can do attacking, defending or healing by hitting the first “Boom” with the physical sword, shield or wand, and the effects will be executed in the next three “boom cha cha”. That is to say, if the warrior hits the first “Boom” beat, an attack will be executed in the next “boom cha cha”; if the defender/mage hits the first “Boom” beat, the next “boom” it will start defending/healing all the characters.

Since our aim is to invite people to play together, acting cooperatively should get better results than doing alone, so we designed an “assistance” logic with the “Cha Cha” beats. That is to day, if the warrior hits the “Boom” followed by the other two hitting the next two “Cha”, “Cha” beats, you will get a huge attack-power bonus and can kill the monster fast without getting too much damage. The same applies to the mage and the defender.The more assists, the better effects the players will get. Better results are also granted by the better timings of you three hitting the first three “Boom Cha Cha” in the six-beat patterns in the music.

At the beginning you will be in a practice mode to learn how to play. When you think your are ready, you can enter the fighting mode and the monster will start attacking you. Try to kill him fast and prepare a defend before his attack, and during the gap after you kill a monster, it’s a good time for you to get healed.

In all, if you want to survive and thrive, follow the beats and dancing together!


Introduction to Computational Media, Introduction to Physical Computing, Introduction to Physical Computing


Fan-Hao Tseng

A small move can make big changes. Plant a seed and you'll get a forest!


A platform(land) covered with soil and a pot in front of it will be placed in front of the crowd. People can place the seed into the pot, and dozens of trees will grow out from the soil platform in set sequence. After the previous participant leaves, the trees shriveled back to the underground, and wait for the next person to plant the seed.


Introduction to Physical Computing


Anne Goodfriend, Marcelina A Nowak

Walk past this beautiful digital dandelion and watch it fly away with the “wind”.



Dandi is a screen based project featuring a digital dandelion that blows away, as if by the wind, in the direction of whomever has just walked in front of it. We were inspired by our childhood, when one of the biggest joy was blowing on a dandelion.

Our project is an interactive installation reminding us of a play, childhood and beauty.

The project is built using p5js and the Particle systems library. It uses Distance Measuring Sensors, the newPing Library, and the arduino, to determine the direction of any person walking in front of the sensor box.

The dandelion was made of small dandelion svg files, which were drawn in Adobe Illustrator. Then, looped in spiral shape, created our fancy dandelion shape. A simple particle system allowed to achieve a ‘blow effect’ and capture the inherent fluidity and energy of the whole project.

It is playful and fun to watch. People seem to really want know about it and engage with it. We love the nostalgia and the playfulness of it.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Homemade Robotic Hand

FY Zhu, Wangshu Sun

Designed an open-source robotic hand for the disables and also for fun, currently we use the MYO as the input control for gesture control, and will use LeapMotion for interaction usage



One of the biggest distinction between human-beings to other creatures is that human have hands. Unfortunately, not everyone have two hands. Though 3-D printing is very popular in the current age, it is still not available for everyone to take usage of it. We designed a Low-cost Robotic Hand, with only piece-by-piece materials and standard parts, make it available for everyone to duplicate it only with cardboard, scissor and parts bought in Amazon. We also make a linkage between Myo and our Hands, in order to make the hand controllable by the residue muscles that the most disables have.

The hand works well currently, made with acrylic and a transmission between the computer and the Myo. The whole system has suffered a presentation time for the NYU prototype fund show on Dec 4th, and attracted lots of the attentions and good feedbacks.

The interaction-part currently is a half-slave logic, that is to say, the hand will do some gestures as the user do, but also, some unusual gesture will be another trigger for some pre-determined gesture, like the video shows, turn the palm out will trigger the victory-gesture and turn the palm in will trigger the rock&roll-gesture, that’s only designed for the disables since those unusual gestures actually have the most powerful muscle electricity signal.

For the winter show, I will duplicate another hand made actually with the materials like cardboard and foam, in order to show it’s potential of the duplicatable for everyone, and will make the current hand with another two freedoms of wrist and use the LeapMotion as the input part, in order to finish some simple interactions like Paper-Scissor-Stone and Give-Me-Five.


Designing for Digital Fabrication, Introduction to Physical Computing


Corbin Ordel

VRTRIP is the experience of self reflection, isolation, truth, and self actualization.



ROAD TRIPPERS! Follow your heart friends! Get in the car! Do you have any gas or peanut money? Whatever, it doesn't matter. Holy shit, that- You're Tot's friend right? Good thing we saw you here, we were about to split for the beach. “honestly tho, do u kno this prsn?” Anyway– oh, well, we don't know when were coming back honestly – we're just hopped up freaked out hippies! It's righteous! I bought these pink slacks from a thrift store the other days, only cost me 10 buckaroos!. I think I saw you outside Drones Club last week, right? You were looking pretty cute. I think you're Blake's age right? Are you also in Cyberactive Media Studies at U of M? That's what someone told me… Anywys, it's weird that we like know each other and also because your Jayy's little bro's age, also. I guess thats what happens in a small scene. What are you working on these days, we talked last weekend, what you did that day and you said that you had a good day, that you woke up and wrote a bit, then you got lunch and then you described the lunch in lots of detail and that you got a really good coffee and that the lunch was really yummy. Honestly I was really happy to talk to you, you seem interesting forsure, “but I'm not sure if your my type, to be honest I have no idea who you are but you seem different than most of the people who hang out around here”. DO you know Amanda? oh god, yea she's way older and from Alberta, she talks so much shit about everyone. It's cool if you go back home during the summer, we all do.


Introduction to Physical Computing, Introduction to Computational Media