PComp Final Update #1 — Narrowing our idea & playtesting

For our PComp final, Pan and I had many different ideas of what we wanted to do.

Motivation: We want to make something visually beautiful that was playful with the audience.

We were really into the idea of working with holograms, but unfortunately these ideas did not involve enough physical computation to make a good final project. So we kept exploring ideas, possibly working with projections, and we came across this video:

We loved how the interactivity of the project resulted in the eruptions of the white balls, and we wanted to play with a similar idea. We wanted sensors to control fans in a similar interface, but we weren’t exactly sure what the end product would be. So we decided to play test our idea in order to narrow our idea down.

As we playtested our idea with people, we found that people really enjoyed the effect. We showed them a sketch of our idea, and triggered a fan to blow some styrofoam pieces that were in an acrylic case.


Here is a summary of the feedback we received:

  • Reminds them of snow. It would be great as a window display. It would be cool if it used ultrasound sensors to follow the users.
  • Part of the appeal is the element of surprise. How can we keep the element of surprise when a lot of people are interacting with the project? Many viewers would make this project difficult to understand.
  • The project would be great if it was tall. If it is not tall, it should detect the user from a horizontal level from below.
  • People want to touch, but they also want to look. How do we balance this?
  • Changing the floating goods from styrofoam balls to messages struck an emotional chord with a majority of our playtesters. People wouldn’t necessarily want to add their own message… it would depend on what the message is.
  • Sound is not necessary for this piece.
  • The project would be beautiful if it was just the balls as well.

We really liked the idea of using distance sensors to trigger fans, and we wanted to keep the idea of a window display. We also wanted people to be able to touch our piece somehow, leaving an impression with a message.

Concept: Our art installation explores the chance encounters that make up human connection. Ultrasound sensors trigger fans that blow messages written by other people into the air for viewers to catch and read. Wind helps play with the idea of randomness, as if the universe has fated a specific message to reach the viewer.


This week, we created our Bill of Materials (BOM), a schedule and a revised sketch of our project. We also prototyped our distance sensors and tested our DC motors. You can find the BOM and schedule as well as an updated list of To Do’s on this Google Sheet.

We also began to purchase materials, as we ordered a big fan to test with and five small DC motors that can spin up to 48000 RPM. We will test these materials to see if they can blow paper to the desired effect.

Revised Sketch




Equipment testing

Challenges & Questions

  • What is the smallest size we can make this piece in order to achieve the desired effect?
  • How can we supply sufficient power to multiple fans? What will the schematic look like?