Alt.
An interactive simulation that explores the concept of déjà vu.

DATE

Oct. 2018

FOCUS

Creative Coding

Live Media

Interface Design

Arduino + P5.js

Introduction

A new interaction design challenge was to create a physical interface. This meant bringing together Arduino, electronic sensors, and artistic thinking.

 

To begin, I fancied concepts that are beyond the physical. Stretching my imagination, I wanted to interpret the concept of déjà vu using a sine wave, three sensors, and javascript.

Translating Déjà|vu

My interpretation of the strange déjà vu experience was inspired by Dr. Michio Kaku's explanation. I conceived it as a trigger that sets off when our reality is altered.

 

'Alt.' simulates an environment that uses a wave to represent our reality — space, time, and matter.

Connecting Sensors

We make sense of our reality primarily through what we see, hear and touch. The interface materialized these senses by using three electronic sensors.

  1. Infrared Sensor to sense hand gestures. 

  2. Rotary Encoder to make a ticking sound.

  3. Touch Sensor to sense finger tap.

User Interaction

To enable interaction between the user and the reality wave, each sensor was coded to control one of the wave's three aspects — space, time, or matter.

 

The wave was designed to give three feedbacks-

 

  • Amplitude change, from 0.1 to 1.

  • Frequency change, from 0.1 to 1.

  • Split, between 0.1 and 1.

Interface Design

I imagined this work to breathe independently as an exhibit. Including a concept note was essential, but I was doubtful to add any user-invoked 'about' section.

 

My mentor, Saakshita, suggested a rather simple way to do this- make the concept note appear automatically if there is inactivity for 5 seconds or more.

 

As soon as the user starts interacting with the physical interface, this note would hide.

Altering Reality

If the user peaks out (reach 1.0) the three aspects of reality collectively, a déjà vu event will be triggered.

 

The three sensors will interchange their functionality while the wave and the sensors remain the same — creating an eerie experience of déjà vu.

The Take-aways
  • Working with electronics in the library scares people.​

  • Make the story more relatable for the users.

 

  • P5.js is a great alternative to processing.

  • Users enjoy more output with less input.

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  • Creative coding can turn into arrays pretty quickly.

Thank you.