Final project proposal - The crowd

When I showed my The Nobody to my friends, some of them said "Oh, cute!", some of them said "It's a little creepy...", and some of them said "I think it's cute at first sight,but scary after keeping watching it for couple minutes." This made me want to do this concept more because people get different, even polarized, feelings and emotions,  with this same one simple object. 

My first idea is making 50 Nobodys turning their head to follow a light spot which controlled by a user. Then I did the playtesting.


But at the playtesting, some peers give me the opinion that if these little guys just turning their head to follow the people passing by, it's more nature and reasonable. 

I will keep thinking and testing to decide the interaction way.

For now, the problems I need to deal with are

1) Running lots of servos.

2) Making lots of characters.

3) Writing code for turning angles.

3) Find a better way of assembling.

Midterm: Music Painter

The Music Painter is a music installation that not only let musician visualize their music by drawing unusual notes on paper, but also let normal people without music background create music when they try to draw on this installation.

Hayeon Hwang and I built the installation together as our PhysComp class midterm project. 


1. Concept building

2. Prototyping

1) Painting part - plan A: solenoid pen - not strong enough

2) Painting part - plan B: servo motor pen - not stable enough

3) Painting part - plan C: mechanism pen

4) Piano part

5) Paper part

6) Screen part


This Music Painter makes very beautiful paper drawing which amazed us a lot. Then we realized this is a good way of data collection on user actions.

But there are still a lot of problems on this project about:

1. User experience:

1) Based on the design now, there is a huge delay when users see the corresponding painting appears after they press the piano key, which makes the experience a little confusing and less pleasure.

2) Users can not adjust the speed of paper rolling.

3) Because we use the buttons to trigger the sounds, if users press the piano key not strong enough, there will be no sound came out. Also it can not sense the pressure of key press.

2. Circuit:

1) We used two arduino boards to control different parts of this project, which is not efficient.

2) We used three power suppliers in this project.

3) The stepper motor goes hot when it's running.

3. Mechanism:

1) The pen's drawing generates more friction which will make the paper rolling stop. Maybe we need more powerful stepper motor and better pens.

2) The pens are drawing bad. Maybe a real brush tip one will work better.

The last and most important, thanks for my great partner - Hayley, who is a great maker, thinker and practitioner, who has responsibility and a warm heart, who knows a lot of knowledges which I don't know and always patiently explains all the questions to me, working hard and finishing this great project with me.

The Nobody

Yes, it got a name, Nobody! This week I made him move a little.

This idea comes from the scene that when I see the moment someone is really focusing on or obsessing with his own work, I just super want to say "Hi" or disturb him, and see his reaction...


1. Coding and testing

2. Making the scene

I used clay again to make the Nobody, modeling it with a thick wire in the body and a thin long wire in the head which let it can pass through the body hole. Then I made the floor, desk, chair,and laptop with cardboards. The laptop had a LED in it trying to make it like a real computer screen. (Standoffs are really useful and save me lots of time on all these legs.)

3. Connecting with Arduino

This is a simple circuit with one microphone sound sensor, a servo motor, and a LED. I decided the servo's position first based on the Nobody, then just roughly collected all other parts into the under layer.

4. Assembling

I'm so lucky that I bought these two boxes separately in Container Store and they were perfectly matched! It saved me bunch of time that I just needed to focus on the inner part.


1) I haven't figured out how to sense the knocking direction, and how to dynamically sense the default decibel when there's nothing happen.

2)The head moving is not smooth enough.

3) I didn't mount the servo on anything. Because the iron wire passing through the body was not technically straight, the head is moving better when I let the servo move with it a little. It must had a better way than iron wire.

4) There is no switch! Since I don't want people see the power supplier so I used batteries placed in the box, which made me confused about how to make a switch...

Observation: laundry card machine

This is the machine which sell and recharge laundry card in my living building.

Your assumptions as to how it’s used

If I never saw the machine, considered its function, I would assume:

1) There were 2 buttons - "new card" and "recharge".

2) Asked me insert old laundry card if I choose recharge.

3) Let me input the number I want to pay for a old card, or showed me how much I have to pay for a new card.

4) Asked me to swipe bank card, insert cash or coins.

5) Showed me the value of my laundry card now and returned it.

Describe the context in which it’s being used

It's in the mailbox area at the first floor of the building. It's quiet and clean. When residents in this building need to buy a new laundry card or to add value to their old card, they will go downstairs and use this machine. Rare people use it and there is definitely no one hurry you when you do it.

How people use it, what they do differently

I was waiting there and met one people tried to buy a new card. She looked the machine for a long time, holding her purse, searching the first thing she need to do. After she found the instruction on the small screen over the keyboard, she was confused about where was the button and which was the correct one among these three purple button. Then she pressed the right one, swiped her credit card, looked at the screen again, waited for few seconds, took out the output laundry card and receipt. After that she still checked the screen for a while, then left.

what appear to be the difficulties and takes the longest

Finding out "the first step" instruction seems difficult and takes the longest.

What appear to be the easiest parts and takes the least amount of time

Swiping credit card and taking out the laundry card and receipt are easy and spend lease time.

How long the whole transaction takes

Almost 1 minute.

How the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see

The interface of this machine is not a good design. Even it has the affordance of input, output and card swiping, which make some parts of the process easier, its instruction is barely visible because it appears on the unexpected small screen. Also, the mapping of button and indicator is worse, since there is a relatively long distance between them. The whole keyboard attract user's most attention, however it has the least function in the whole process. All these design confuse user and lower the effectiveness of interaction.


What is Interaction?

In the first two chapters of “The Art of Interactive Design”, Chris Crawford defines “interaction” as “a cyclic process in which two actors alternately listen, think, and speak”. Based on this idea, I would say physical interaction is two objects making reactions to each other based on the information exchanging between them. All the storage equipments, SD card or USB drive, are not interactive because they do only information exchange but no reaction. 

In the article from Bret Victor, he describes the popular screen technology as “Pictures Under Glass”,which deprives most parts of our useful natural sense. I totally agree with it. The Good physical interaction should be efficient, function well, emotional, and attractive. If the interaction could keep, even enhance human’s natural senses and abilities, it will reach these goals way more easier. Because the volume of informations human sense conveyed is so huge that makes more possibilities about reaction.