Physical Computing








Physical Computing

Final Project

Concept – week 1 (narrow your ideas)


-In physical level-


-Color/Caustic Patterns (understand light waves and phenomena)



-Interaction with human body(vibrations/frequency)

-In a conceptual level-

-“..Because humans cannot reside in a point, in the beginning there was the bubble..” A study in the morphology that connects all aspects of life. Inherent morphologic dynamics of the worlds we share.

“And how perplexed must any womb-born creature feel, who is obliged to fly thin air.”Rilke

-Gaining access to something that is the most real, yet also the most elusive and least tangible of things:self-realizing forms (spheres)

-“To speak means to play with the body of the other” A.tomatis Body/Vibrations. How can we make visible the vibrations and frequencies that interact with our bodies and realities. Drawing the body with bubbles.

– How could we replicate the experience of floating on water surface?

– Cloud made of growing/expanding bubbles+quinine fluorescence







-What we need-


– 1 Arduino mega or multiple Arduino micro

– 13 Peristaltic pumps

– 3 Air pumps ( )

– Tubing

– Power supply and AC/DC conversion

– Distance Sensor or Camera

– Mini proyector

– Other sensors (Thermo/Neuro/Photo/Pulse)


Version 1:

-Acrylic tube

-Rubber tubing

-Acrylic cement


Version 2:

-Test tube

-Test tube lab stand

-Rubber tubbing

-3D printed surface lid

-Acrylic sheet




-Space & design sketches-


-Code Arduino & circuits-

const int analogInPin = A0;  // Analog input pin that the potentiometer is attached to

const int digitalOutPin = 9; // Analog output pin that the LED is attached to

int sensorValue = 0;        // value read from the pot

int outputValue = 0;        // value output to the PWM (analog out)

int oldValue=0;

void setup() {

  // initialize serial communications at 9600 bps:




void loop() {

  // read the analog in value:

  sensorValue = analogRead(analogInPin);

  // map it to the range of the analog out:

if (sensorValue+oldValue < 40 ) {


  digitalWrite(digitalOutPin, HIGH);

  delay (100);

  digitalWrite(digitalOutPin, LOW);



  oldValue=sensorValue;//filter noise

//  else{

//    digitalWrite(digitalOutPin, LOW);

//    delay(30);

//    }


    //outputValue = map(sensorValue, 0, 1023, 0, 255);

    // change the analog out value:

// analogWrite(analogOutPin, outputValue);

  // print the results to the serial monitor:

  Serial.print(“sensor = “);


  //Serial.print(“\t output = “);


  // wait 2 milliseconds before the next loop

  // for the analog-to-digital converter to settle

  // after the last reading:



Physical Computing





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There are so many ideas that I would like to develop, and even if I question them I still want to create them and amaze myself, because I realize that with every amazement, more questions arise. Questions about design, but also about science, art, cognitive process, human interactions, emotions etc. So I think maybe right now I am interested in design that enables observation. Any kind of observation. 






Second step: I am working on connecting this system to the P5 editor and the Kinect skeleton tracking system, so that each joint of the human body which is represented by an ellipse in the current kinect code, will then be physically represented by a bubble and a light bubble as you enter a room.
The other option is to have to skeleton tracking system projected inside the bubble. Also, using micro organisms.


Physical Computing


Assignment: Pick a piece of interactive technology in public, used by multiple people. Write down your assumptions as to how it’s used, and describe the context in which it’s being used. Watch people use it, preferably without them knowing they’re being observed. Take notes on how they use it, what they do differently, what appear to be the difficulties, what appear to be the easiest parts. Record what takes the longest, what takes the least amount of time, and how long the whole transaction takes. Consider how the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see.


Lets talk about public bathrooms for a minute… Actually I have been wanting to talk about public bathrooms for a while now. I usually carry around in my head a list of bad design or what can/must be designed better. Public bathrooms are the #1 in my list always. 

There are many things to be said and I know there is a rich history in bathroom design and history, but can someone please explain to me how are you supposed to go to a public bathroom in an airport when you are carrying your personal luggage, which obviously has to be with you at all times, how do you enter the small (tiny) cubicle where there is already a toilet, a garbage can, rolls of paper, and then your luggage + you-AND the best part of all is that once you are inside, the door must be pulled towards you so it opens and you must somehow move out. 

I understand and it is logical (maybe) that the bathroom doors need to be pulled to open instead of pushed because you dont want to hit anyone passing by, but still can’t we figure out a different layout for these places where almost always there is a long line and then you can barely walk in the cubicle with your luggage and to get out is another struggle. 

Evidently, this mechanism is designed from a “practical” or “efficient” perspective but it never took in consideration, the user experience or the different kinds of scenarios where it would be used. 

I have seen multiple times, women not being able to exit the bathroom cubicle or enter it due to the amount of luggage they are carrying. 

On the other hand, have you ever wondered about drains in bathroom or shower floors? Why do we enter a public bathroom and  85 to 90% of the time, it is wet! Or there is some water somewhere it should not be. If drains were designed specifically to move water or liquid from one area where we dont want water to another area, then why does it constantly fail to do its one real task? 

I’m sure drains have been part of human design history since forever, and we surely need them, but I wonder if in this case it does not apply what one of the readings mentioned, that when trying to reinvent a commercial design it was very hard to change certain components that have somehow been approved by the public. 

Then we have the water dryers, which designers seem to love and try to constantly reinvent. I have taken the time to observe people in public bathrooms back home in Colombia, where fancy bathroom technology is just making its way in. it is fascinating to see how people interact with hand dryers. The more advanced the design, and when I say advanced I mean like futuristic aesthetics, the harder it is for people to understand where they have to place their hands, where to press and for how long etc. There is even this newish kind of hand dryer, where it seems like your hands will fit just right and it will all look very anatomically correct and right, however I have seen woman back home actually afraid of sticking their hands inside something “unknown.”

Lastly, we should talk about the overall feeling or the ambient design and the anatomical input that should be considered when designing public bathrooms. 



I have been trying to develop a bubble mechanism for a while now. It all began few years ago at the SVA BioLab where I was working to create a bioluminescent cloud. At one point I had to experiment with ways to vaporize algae or introduce microorganisms into air molecules. So, I made protein bubbles and tried to insert Noctiluca.
As all experiments go, there was a lot of trial and error. One of these errors became another project when I discovered that my bubbles could create drawings that seemed to depict their own fractal formations.
I still want to develop the Plankton cloud, but I also want to explore the possibilities of interacting and controlling a bubble machine that can draw or mirror itself.

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Bubble machine hacking and possible interaction:

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Physical Computing · Uncategorized




The Yam HaMelach Switch 




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Switches belong to that category of objects in our every-day human life, that are just taken for granted. Who really thinks about the switch that turns the light off in a room every night? Or for that matter, who stops to think about the Sun, that lights up our day, every day!? Observation is essential. Sometimes I wish I had more time just to observe, or I guess I just have to learn to be present.

This assignment was very interesting, because it somehow takes us to another level of observation. We clearly went looking for different kinds of switches, but I think we were all really imagining and drawing in our minds the internal mechanism or interaction of this object. I particularly found myself wondering, what else can it do? A candle for instance will also “turn off or on” the light of a room, but, how can I make my switch feel like a candle? But not really look like one.
The human brain has infinite switches, well maybe not infinite, but each neuron has multiple switches which I believe also learn to evolve and adapt. How could we map these switches? Would it be a good idea to learn from internal brain interaction? What about in a cellular level? Could we learn to design as cells in our body do so magically?

I feel that Pcomp, is a little bit like dancing or any procedural memory, if I stop to think too much about the circuit or the process, my mind goes blank. However if I observe and imagine, circuits start coming together. I tried many different options before arriving to the salt+water switch. I tried working with a motor, but there was something too mechanical or technical that removed the simplicity of good design. It so interesting to discover how effective one interaction can be if it resonates in the mind of the person experiencing it. If there is no dialogue there is nothing.

As designers or creators, can we learn a new dialogue?

To draw with bubbles and lab-grade ink using the arduino and maybe even to calculate the exponential or fractal growth of the bubbles and thus the final drawing- I really want to do this!


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Physical Computing





As I walked out of our first class, I had one concrete question (why almost everyone wanted to make a dream machine? Can we re-imagine how humans dream?) And then I had a very abstract question clutter, which kept on tormenting me:

I keep on thinking about the input-output conversation inherent to interaction.  I wonder, is there a measurement for that? The bit is a measurement for information, right? What is then the measurement for communication or interaction?
If you have an idea that demands an interaction between machine/machine or machine/organism, is there a method to start calculating the input-outputs that you might need?
Lets say, like when you find a new species and you try to identify it on the scientific scale (kingdom, domain, genus etc.)
Science learns by comparison, technology learns by?

In the assigned readings, one author describes interaction as a conversation, a cyclic or continuous variable with relative measures. He then attempts to distinguish between interaction and reaction or participation, emphasizing three particular elements inherent to successful interaction: listen/think/speak (loop). However, I still cant see or understand how he measures or what tool or thought process he uses to calculate interaction. At one point he writes: “performance artists seldom interact with their audiences at any deep level.” I wonder what is his definition of “deep” for, I can certainly understand the practical aspect of his arguments and the importance of the non-subjectivity, but if we think of interaction as a conversation or a dialogue, how are we measuring it’s reciprocity? When I stand in front of a work of art and I sense the reality of an artist being depicted somehow and this reality resonates with my own reality and yes, somehow a dialogue begins…is that interaction? I can’t send an input to the painting, so I guess no, but there is a dialogue and it goes deep. Certainly Giacometti’s drawings seem to be an interaction with time and space and he even mentioned how drawings could never be finished for there are infinite interconnections between objects, movements, space, time etc.
I don’t know why I keep associating interaction with magic or awe. I feel that in my personal work, I have focused not so much in the practical aspect of design but on the elements of surprise or wonder that can yield to discoveries and certainly deep dialogues between those interacting.

Are rugs interactive? NO. Could rugs be interactive if you were to genetically modify cotton molecules to have bioluminescence and therefore glow when touched or stepped on?

I agree on the fact that visions do matter, they matter a lot; so do human capabilities, which I think need to be explored to their full potential, particularly those capabilities which seem more organic and less technological.

Human needs and human capabilities are interesting thoughts. It would be great to see a daily record of every object we manipulate with an anatomical and anthropological study next to it. Nowadays when we record everything we do, but we fail to observe how we do it.

Take for instance, plants, and their high- high tech interaction with sunlight. Do we really know how to measure that? We can measure light, but in order to interact with light, that means plants have a faster mechanism than the speed of light?

Ok, I’m going to stop this blog post now. I have too many ideas, but I really want to learn more!