MHCI+D Interactive Sign
Materials: Arduino, ultrasonic distance sensor, photocell, projector
Tools: Arduino, Processing
Time: 3 days
Promoting the MHCI+D Program Identity
This interactive sign was designed to promote the Master in Human-Computer Interaction and Design program identity as well as tighten the relationship between people and their surrounding environment. The sign displayed at the entrance of the Alumni House at University of Washington, where MHCI+D students and faculty pass through every day.
Design Rationale
The projection consists of lines, words of “MHCI+D”/“Welcome!” and dot matrix. Considering the wall for projection is made with lines of panels, I chose lines for projecting instead of other geometries. By this way, lines could be fitted into the environment with harmony, while still maintain their variations. There are 34 lines to represent 30 of current students and 4 of program faculty. The dot matrix functions as a contrasting background to pop out the content.
Interactive Content Lines
The color and movement of the lines vary based on the distance inputs, through the ultrasonic distance sensor (0.4m-2m). Each line was defined by the parametric equation, specifically the sin and cosine functions. When people pass or stand close to the sensor, the colors of lines become more vibrant with the lines crossing more frequently, representing the increasing interaction between people.
See the Arduino and Processing codes >
Interactive Content
"MHCI+D" changes to "Welcome!" when people touch the sphere. The color of those words crossfades from green to blue (MHCI+D branding color gradient) when people turn the sphere.
Interactive Content
Dot Matrix
The opacity of the dot matrix becomes higher when people get closer to the distance sensor.
Behind the Scene
I used foam core to build the housing for protecting the electronic components.
What I've learned
1. Creating interactive content in Processing paired with Arduino was challenging but rewarding.

2. To illustrate the design concept through coding and express thoughts efficiently and meaningfully were challenging.

3. Understanding why to code is more important than how to code.

4. Testing prototype in the real context is the most effective way to figure out its feasibility.

5. I particularly enjoyed exploring, defining, and debugging in the iteration process by using physical computing tools.

6. I appreciated the combination of Processing and Arduino, which enables me to explore various new domains of design thinking and prototyping.
Welcome to MHCI+D program!