A Message from our Future

Gabriella Garcia

A phone rings uncannily just as you pass it… if you answer perhaps you'll get some insight into the future of humanity…



The project is called A Message From Our Future and it's essentially a narrative phone tree journey using an old-school corded desk telephone as the interface. The phone would ring based on a distance sensor, and when picked up, would prompt an automated recording starting the narrated interaction. The person is prompted through a keypad menu that gives them options to listen to voice messages from “the future” with each number leading to a different message theme. Voicemails were collected via burner number that people could call anonymously.


Introduction to Computational Media, Introduction to Physical Computing

The Giving Plant

Idith Barak, Jacky Chen, Tsimafei Lobiak

A living plant made out of fabric.



Team:Idit Barak, Jacky Chen, Timothy Lobiak

Our project is called the Giving Plant; it is a white on white soft sculpture inspired by the iconic bird of paradise flower. Onlookers may use our custom built water can to water the plant. When that happens, visual cues will occur to guide the users to complete the sequence. At the end of the sequence, the majestic bird of paradise flower will bloom and emit a relaxing smell in the form of a cooling mist.

The two water cans each uses an absolute orientation sensor (BNO055) to detect the change in orientation. When the cans are pointed downward, three 12V LED’s are triggered. The user needs to point the mouth of the water can at the root of the plant to “water” the plant with light. This triggering the LDRs embedded in the planter. There are also sealed water capsules built into the water can to create

When watered, the LED strips embedded in the stem of the plant will display segments of LEDs moving up the stem, feeding “light” into the leaves and the flower. When the leaves receive “enough” light, it will gradually light up from the bottom to the top.

After the leaves are fully lit, the shape memory alloys (SMA) will be triggered by running current through them. This allows the SMA to change its shape, and as a result, the flower will bloom. Mist will be pushed out of a mist making chamber, by an air pump, through a silicon tubing; essential oil will be in the mix of the mist, that helps to produce a lovely scent. After a short pause, the mist will cease and the flower will close its petals by triggering another set of SMA pulling in the opposite direction.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Dance Floor MPC

Adi Dahiya

A playful dance floor experience which allows anyone to make beats with their body.



I'm making a matrix of dance floor tiles which act as a controller for a drum rack sampler & step sequencer. The software implements some of the key ideas from an Akai MPC and modern production workstations like Ableton. Users are invited to step up to the device, express themselves with a little dance over a 2- or 4-bar phrase, and hear back the resulting rhythm produced by the “Dance floor MPC”. Successive users can choose to “collaborate” with the previous user's recorded sequence. This is not a precise production tool, but rather a playful experience which enables anyone to enjoy making beats with their body.


Introduction to Physical Computing, The Code of Music

Flappy melody

Jingyi Wen, Xinyue Li

This is a physical "flappy bird" game where players control the bird to avoid the barriers by singing.



This project is inspired by the game “flappy bird”, but is designed in a more physical and interactive way. The basic setting is two glass cylinder, the smaller one's diameter is 5 inches and the bigger one's diameter is around 6 inches. Between them will be some ferrofluid.

For the interaction, the users get the control over the ferrofluid dot attracted by the magnet inside and to avoid some real physical barriers between the two glass layers by singing a specific tone. If hit the barrier, the magnetic force would be erased and the ferrofluid would drop down.

While the vertical movements are controlled by the players and will reflect the frequency of their voice, the horizontal movement (rotation) is made automatically with each interaction.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Lost and Found Bots

Ashley Lewis

Like all of us at times, these bots are lost without one another, until you connect their hands and help them feel found



This project was created in Fabrication at the beginning of the semester, just after I had moved from Canada to the US to attend ITP. Perhaps it was a manifestation of feeling out a new space, but these bots felt very therapeutic to design and make. Two comical 5″ bots, sit side by side, both similar but not congruent. Their tiny screens read as “lost” and their light are off. Connecting their hands, brings them closer together, as though they are hugging or kissing. Once connected, their screens read as “found” and their lights turn on.

The best part about this project was its ability to make others assess their feeling of lost or found. I posted it to Instagram and was able to instigate many conversations around empathy, in some cases, for my situation but, in most cases, around a situation of a stranger. A woman from Toronto whom I haven’t met showed the bots to her son immediately requested to build a pair of his own – a first for him in his exploration in electronic making. This little piece about lonely bots turned into a vessel for emotive conversations.


Intro to Fabrication, Introduction to Physical Computing

The Friendship Game

Chunhan Chen, Olivia Kung, Tianyi Xie

Test your friendship with your closest friend or the stranger closest to you by selecting shapes that represent how you feel about a given emotion.



We wanted to explore the complicated nature of friendship in a game-like way. Abstract shapes and vague questions represent the disconnect that two people may have while thinking about the same question. The friendship tests gamifies the difficulty that it can be to achieve common ground and eventually friendship between two people who have alternate perspectives.

This project requires two players, that may be strangers or the closest of friends, to put their new or old found friendship to the ultimate test. The players will be provided with five identical shape halves. Then they will be given a series of questions related to their feelings on select emotions. All it takes are three correct matches for the players to be rewarded in friendship and candy.


Introduction to Physical Computing, Introduction to Physical Computing

Above the Cloud

Mingna Li, Yuanyuan Wang

A magical instance to connect with outer-space creature (alien).



This project is inspired by our interest in magic, and we want to create a scenario that human can communicate with the unknown. Through this installation, user can connect with creature-like objects through movement. In our human world, we talk in complex languages, but sometimes, unspoken language can pull our hearts even closer, such as a smile, a hug, or a moment together. This installation is intended to recreate that beautiful connection between creatures.

User wears a simple finger glove, which is an alien communication device. Then, user lies down on a cloud (a cushion that looks like cloud). There will be about 10 aliens above user mounted on a frame. When user points his/her finger to aliens, aliens will come down to user. When users points away, aliens slowly retract.

We will use IR sensor to detect whether the user is pointing at aliens. User is wearing IR emitter on the alien communication device, and aliens have IR receivers in them. Aliens are controlled by stepper motors. Pulley is attached to the stepper. When user and alien make connection, stepper releases wires and aliens move down. When the connection is lost, stepper reverses, and aliens will move back to their home.


Introduction to Physical Computing, Introduction to Physical Computing

Power Your Day With Sunlight

Emily Lin

"Power Your Day with Sunlight" is an educational tool that explains how solar panels work and how sunlight is converted into electricity.



We all know what solar panels are but what do we know about how they work? The objectives for “Power Your Day with Sunlight” is to visualize the science of solar cells and better understand this modern technology. By providing the user with a hands on model people will be able to experiment with how solar cells correspond with the sun.

This project is composed of a physical interaction in which the change of the angle of the light, representing the sun and time of day, is reflective of the light generated inside the miniature solar house. Meanwhile, the screen below the house displays an interactive animation of a solar cell diagram that updates in real time based on the amount of light that the solar panels receive. Next to the screen are four buttons that will change to different web pages. The first button will display an intro page, the second one displays the solar cell schematic, the third will allow show the voltage generated by the light in the form of a moving bar graph, the fourth button displays information regarding battery storage.

On the right side, there is an LED powered button icon. When the light is shining on the solar panel, the battery icon will cyclically flash to show that it is storing the solar energy. When the light is turned off, which will automatically happen after the day has ended, the battery will discharge. At that time, the screen will show a page that discusses the current status and challenges with the development of cost-effective batteries.

This addresses the fact that large scale deployment of solar energy depends on effective methods to store the excess sunlight.

Ultimately, this project hopes to show that solar energy, despite its challenges, is sustainable and fascinating.

Process for this project can be seen here: https://emilylinprocess.blog/category/final-fall-2018/
Process videos can be seen here:

Solar Cell Diagram and Light

Switching Pages with Buttons

Drawing with Light


Introduction to Physical Computing

The invisible bird

Tanic Nakpresha, Yuguang Zhang

How long we’ve been trapped in these cages that we built ?



We think we are the owner of our thoughts. But the truth is, our thoughts
have been unconsciously influenced by the social groups that we share a sense of unity.

The invisible bird is an interactive sculpture that uses computer algorithm to analyze various topics on Twitter and allows the viewer to guess what public’s attitudes about those topics are.In this way, we hope people to realize that there are invisible cages of thoughts that we’re living in, and how long we’ve been trapped in these cages that we built. 


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