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Empathetic Object


Design Challenge

Create an empathetic interactive experience with a integrated circuit and input and output sensors.


On a recessed table, there will be a row of red LEDs that turn on in sequence every few milliseconds to give the illusion of a wave. A piezo buzzer chirps each time a LED turns on, matching the rhythm of the LED dance.

The piece engages the audience by displaying the changing lights and noise. The rhythmic lights draw them in and also imbues the object with a sense of “I’m watching you” that is slightly disturbing as it seems to scan your presence.

When the participant gets closer, the LEDs slowly become brighter and the piezo sound changes to a higher frequency the closer the person gets to the object. In this close state, the frequency and the brightness of the LEDs could signify either a defensive or aggressive state of alarm for the object.

How Does It Work?
The circuit uses 7-10 LEDs linked to a photoresistor and a piezo buzzer. The piece should have a spotlight shining on the object which is obscured when a person stands over the object, changing the input to the photoresistor.

The object has no memory but at a certain saturation point where the photoresistor detects below a certain level of low light, the LEDs pulsate in time to a harsh “alarm” sound –and continue to do this until the person moves away from the object. Once the photoresistor is unobscured, the LEDs switch back to their rhythmic display and chirping.

Programmed with PBASIC.

Circuit Diagram

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