Interactive Devices – Semester Project Documentation

By Hannah Kwah & Joan Li


1. Initial Ideas + Sketches

Our initial ideas include different version of an interactive umbrella, but with different functions, sensing and feedback:
– An umbrella with pressure pads on the top, to sense the intensity of rain. The heavier the rain, the higher the pressure measured.
– A spinning umbrella with servo motors at the handle, to serve as a fast drying mechanism after walking in the rain.
– A ‘night light’ umbrella with photoresistors installed, becomes brighter when it gets dark at night. In the event of lightning, the umbrella LED would correspond and imitate its brightness.
– A weather forecast umbrella that alerts users of the chances of rain, and whether they should carry the umbrella out for the day.
– An umbrella that alerts users if it is misplaced or forgotten.
– An umbrella with microphones attached, and responds by expanding if volume detected in generally loud, for example: during heavy rain, thunder or at crowded places.
– An expandable umbrella that is triggered with tighter grip around the handle, to cover a larger surface area
during heavy rain.

2. Chosen Idea

An expandable cloud shaped umbrella, with LCD display and colour changing LED lights.
Sensing: Pressure of user’s grip, temperature of user’s hands, real-time weather data from website
Effecting: Expansion of umbrella and changing of colour depending on the temperature, display weather data

3. Process


1A. Using Arduino for LED & temperature:
Our initial idea was for the LED light to change colour upon the person’s temperature based on temperature sensor. Depending on your body temperature the light changes accordingly. If the person is very warm, the light will be on the warmer tone and if the person is very cold, the light will be on the cooler tone.
The problem we faced was whenever the LED was plug in together with the temperature sensor, the temperature sensor’s numbers would fluctuate from a negative to positive range. Not only that, the numbers will jump randomly even though we are not touching it. We had an idea of separating the temperature sensor with the LED but it would not make sense as they needed to work concurrently.1B. Using Arduino for LED & knob:
After much struggling with the temperature sensor, we decided to use the knob instead. It also worked in the same manner as the temperature sensor where the LED changes colour too. We used arduino to read the values of the knob and determined the range we wanted to incorporate into the LED when the user turns. We planned the values and colours that we wanted to showcase.

2. Using pressure pads & servos for expansion:
We used the pressure pad to determine whether the umbrella was to expand or not. We tested out both hardware separately.
Based on our knowledge of how a servo works, we tried to code it in a way which allows two servos to work simultaneously. It worked out and changed the direction of each of them according to how we wanted to expand the umbrella.Next, we attempted to use MAX for the pressure sensor. We wanted to use MAX to call Arduino as the pressure sensor controls the movement of the servo. The harder you press the umbrella will expand. The patch worked as the sensor was able to determine whether the user presses it or not.We were facing the problem of trying to read the values of Arduino to MAX as both of them works perfectly individually but when combined together it does not work. We tried to solve the problem by replacing the pressure sensor with a knob to check if there was anything wrong in either end. We scraped the idea of the use of MAX and used Arduino directly through the use of wires. The knob worked perfectly and the servos expanded and retracted accordingly. We switched the knob for the pressure pad and it worked perfectly.

3. Getting weather data from the Internet:
For this, we needed an Arduino Yun shield for Wifi access, and a website called Temboo to retrieve weather data from Yahoo!. Instead of using an Arduino Yun shield, we bought a Dragino Yun shield instead, which provides the same function.

We managed to connect the Wifi from the Yun shield, but it was very unstable and we could not configure it completely. Even though the code worked, we couldn’t get the shield to function properly and therefore was getting distorted values.
Also, we realised that the weather data from Yahoo! was inaccurate, as their data sometimes did not match the current weather conditions.

Nevertheless, we decided to print the weather conditions on the LCD, along with the current temperature, humidity and chance of precipitation. We feel that a weather update display on an umbrella would be convenient for users to gauge the weather for the day, to plan their activities ahead of time, and to decide whether to bring an umbrella out or not.

For our cloud shaped umbrella, we decided to use metal wires to construct its 3D frame. The wires we used for our first prototype was too thin and flimsy, and the structure was not sturdy at all. Hence, we decided to use a much thicker wire, but lessen the number of wires used to construct the frame to minimize the overall weight. We also used thin threads to add support to the wires in the frame and to keep the frame from going out of shape.

One of our biggest challenges was to design the expandable mechanism, with less or mostly lightweight materials, so as to keep the umbrella handy and portable.

First prototype
– Expanding mechanism made from jointed chopsticks, similar to the skeleton of regular foldable umbrellas.
This method was quite sturdy and could extend a good distance. However, we also realized that it would require quite a number of sturdy sticks to support the entire 3D structure, which would make it very heavy. We would also need extra support at the top of the umbrella to hold it together.

Second prototype – We tied several threads from the wire frame to the end of the servo motor bar, to create a “contract and release” system. It was the lightest way of suspending our expanding mechanism, although the expansion was a little angled instead of being horizontal.

4. Final Product

UFO (Universal Forecast Object) is an expandable mood umbrella, fitted with real-time temperature and weather display. Our umbrella is shaped like a cloud, and covered with waterproof nylon fabric. It changes colour based on the temperature of the user, and expands outwards based on the strength of the user’s grip around the handle.

Through this product, we hope to provide people indoors with immediate weather information based on their location, to better prepare them for their journey outdoors.


Video documentation:

Possible improvement:

– To provide stronger hold on the overall structure & wider expansion, use 4 servos instead of 2
– Lessen the overall weight of the umbrella by using slightly more lightweight materials
– Build a sturdier handle, for better grip and balance out the top-heavy umbrella



Final Project – Know someone in need of money?

Know someone who is in need of money? Contact the WULONG JIJI GAOGAO PTE. LTD. right now. Help is always available.

Our broadcast is about two civilians that owe a huge amount of money to an infamous loan shark organisation, Wu Long. The duo had to find enough money around the place so that they could pay the head of the loan shark organisation the total amount of money they had borrowed from him. The debtors had a buffer time of about 5 minutes to collect as much money as they could or hide, after which the loan sharks would start chasing them down. Will the debtors be able to collect enough money before the time run out?


In the live stream, Cher See and Xin Feng were role playing as the infamous loan sharks while Joan and Hannah were role playing as the civilians. The civilians’ mission was to locate all the hidden envelopes that contain money, finding every possible areas that had the hidden stash of money. The head of the loan shark, Long Ge (aka Cher See) had dispatched an underling, Ah Feng (aka Xin Feng) to find the two civilians to pressure them to pay back the money they owe. Joan managed to find the envelopes hidden around the area but was caught by Ah Feng shortly after she found the third envelope. She was brought to Long Ge to check on the amount of money she had collected. Joan had to wait for Hannah to find the remaining amount of money that was escalating every 10 mins. On the other hand, Hannah had to go around and beg people for money so that she could pay back her debts while finding ways to escape the loan sharks. After finding enough money, Joan asked Hannah to come find Long Ge to return back the remaining sum. In the end, both civilians were able to pay back what they had borrowed from the loan sharks.

Hannah & Joan live broadcast

Know someone who is in need of money? Contact the WULONG JIJI GAOGAO PTE. LTD. right now. Help is always available. (a video stream about two debtors on the road to repaying their debts to a infamous loan shark organisation)

Posted by Joan Li on Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Know someone who is in need of money? Contact the WULONG JIJI GAOGAO PTE. LTD. right now. Help is always available. (a video stream about two debtors on the road to repaying their debts to a infamous loan shark organisation)

Posted by Joan Li on Wednesday, 15 November 2017


Cher See & Xin Feng live broadcast


Combine broadcasts

Reveal of all envelope locations


Further Improvement

The one major problem that the team faces were the internet connection. It was causing lagginess and disconnection when the team were co-broadcasting. However, the team had came to believe that such limitation were actually working in our favor as it created a more interesting composition and dynamics when things were not working as it should have. There were some shots that were quite unusual and could really sell the narrative that the two civilian were actually running away from the loan shark. Nonetheless, the team were still able to complete the project on time even when the internet connection were poor.

Another problem that we could have improved on were the balancing of the game. There were some envelope that were hidden in areas that were too difficult to find and some that were too obvious. Perhaps the team could strike a balance if we had another chance to improve on our live stream. However, placing envelops at places that requires strenuous effort to locate promote our team members to interact with passersby, borrowing money and help from them. It remove the stagnancy of our co-broadcasting and introduce new elements to keep the audiences entertain in our stream.

My role

In the live stream, I role played as one of the debtors. As the game started, I began searching from the 4th level, and eventually found a total of 10$. The treasure hunting experience was really fun, especially with the aspect of fear of getting caught. The first time I bumped into one of the loan sharks, it was within the buffer time and I received a warning about my ‘debt’. About 10-15 minutes into the live stream, I was officially caught and brought into the WuLong Headquarters. However, I did feel a little bored as there wasn’t much to do after getting caught. I had a hard time trying to get my fellow debtor to co-broadcast with me, as she kept disconnecting for long periods of time. However, I felt that the problems we encountered in terms of the bandwidth helped to balance out the difficulty on both sides; it was a little more difficult for the loan sharks to figure out our locations.

Linking to what we have learned

The CCTV-like footage that the loan shark used to track down the locations of the debtors reminded me a little of A Hole-In-Space. The collage of footage on OBS was a collapse of multiple spaces, much like real CCTV cameras that could collapse spaces throughout a building into one single screen. Without moving from his chair, the head of the Wu Long organisation could reach into and access real-time information from wherever his debtors were located at around ADM. However, the one-way onscreen interaction would render our live performance as something closer to Jennicam, especially while playing the role of a debtor.

Image result for jennicam site

The debtors had no access of the loan sharks’ stream or whereabouts, despite being constantly tracked and spied on by them. Similar to Jennicam, she had no means of knowing who or when someone was watching her and how much of her they saw. During the broadcast, we felt the vulnerability of being exposed to an unknown audience whom may or may not have caught our every movement. We also had the constant feeling of impending danger, and the fear of suddenly bumping into one of the loan sharks in ADM (which I did, at the lift). We felt what most people would have felt when put into the position of Jennicam, although Jenny herself was perfectly comfortable with it. 

The weak Internet connection that we experienced also caused our OBS live stream to play in slow frames, which was similar to the earlier periods of Jennicam where grainy images where replaced every 15 seconds. It gave viewers a small sense of suspense and anticipation as to what image is going to appear next, and piece them together to form a narrative. One interesting aspect of the outcome of our live stream was also the audio. Even though the footage froze on many occasions, the audio actually continued playing in the background. There was one instance where Hannah disconnected from my co-broadcast completely, but somehow her audio still got through.

Overall, it was a fun treasure hunting experience and really interesting to assume a new identity on the live stream and play a different role. Although the outcome could have been better with better bandwidth, I feel that our concept was still conveyed through our final project.

Telematic Stroll – Reflection

Part I:

(Video starts at 2:11)

Part II:

(Video starts at 4:14)

For our telematic stroll, we decided to embark on our journey home in the evening, while exploring our neighborhood estate. As Hannah stayed in Pasir Ris (east) and I stayed in Queenstown (west), we wanted to look for similarities and difference between estates that are far apart, and some of the daily activities we do at home. We chose to broadcast in the evening as we wanted to (hopefully) catch the sunset from two different points of view. Unfortunately, there was no clear sunset in the past week. (It was either greyish blue or too cloudy or thunderstorms)

Our plan:
Start broadcasting – 6:50
Walk around neighboring parks/garden
Compare sunset
Compare features around the neighborhood
Go home by climbing the stairs (approx. 8 floors)
Prepare a snack and eat together
Watch TV together – end at 7:20

We started off the stroll by exploring spaces that were near our homes – Hannah at the ground level of her HDB, and I was at a roof garden on the 14th floor. The reason for our choice of locations was that we wanted to climb the number of flights of stairs up to our homes (10th and 22nd storey) after exploring.

 Interestingly, the sky was much bluer in the east even though the sun sets in the west. HDBs look so similar and generic – those in the east and those in the west blend seamlessly well together even though they are far apart.

After exploring our surroundings for a bit, we climbed up the stairs together to get home. We didn’t want to take the elevator because we would lose connection, and we felt that stairs was a better representation of a journey home.

Aerial view of our neighborhood – parks, roads, construction sites and other HDB buildings

We also planned to eat together, so we prepared food beforehand. However, Hannah disconnected so here’s me eating alone.

We ate together again during the second part of the broadcast, and we happened to find the same drink in our refrigerators.

Entertainment at home – watching programs on the TV and videos on a laptop

Research Critique – Interview with Second Front

The interview with Second Front was a refreshing experience as we got to be in the virtual space with Second Front! They were all rather laid-back, cool and excited (especially Bibbe), and shared their personal experiences and thoughts about Second Life and their work. They talked about the difference between the virtual and reality, the reason behind their choice of medium and their process behind some of their works. I was surprised by the amount of audience participation in their live performances and how these interactions affect the outcome of their work, as I couldn’t see it in the recorded performances. Hopefully one day I would be able to catch their performances live and interact with them in the virtual world!

Networked Conversations with Second Front, hosted by Randall Packer

I found the fluidity of identity discussed by Second Front rather interesting. At the beginning of the interview, each of the members did a brief introduction about their virtual identities and their relationship with them.

Liz Solo’s character was her virtual puppet, while Patrick, Bibbe and Jeremy’s characters were a cross between their favourite artists, celebrities, musicians, and other media influences. It seemed like their identities on Second Life were more of an alter ego than a personal extension of themselves, and an idealised blend of their favourite characters. They could assume the partial identity of another person and act freely with it. Second Life was a channel through which they could express themselves in ways that they can’t in the real world, or as Bibbe would say – “Second Life sets me loose.”

In the virtual world, a character’s identity is something like a mask that can be copied exactly and controlled by another user. This interchangeability of avatars allows further exploration of possibilities in Second Life. One example of changing identities in their work is the Grand Theft Avatar.

Image result for second front grand theft avatar

Grand Theft Avatar
was a live performance at the San Francisco Art Institute as part of the “From Cinema to Machinima” panel. It depicts a local bank heist, where the Linden Treasury was robbed by a group of professional robbers. The robbers then flew off in helicopters, freeing the loot from the sky in the process.

In this performance, members of the Second Front started off with their usual virtual identities, and then changed their avatars to impersonate the members of the panel, before embarking on the bank heist.

Related image


Prior to the interview, I had a few questions prepared and one of them was this:

“How real is Second Life? If you were to perform the same content on a physical stage, would it feel any more or less real, compared to doing it in the virtual world?”

One of them mentioned that performing on a virtual stage merely takes the physical body out of performance art – the important things like emotions and the narrative stays, and therefore it is real. Furthermore, Second Front’s works mostly consists of large scale settings, quirky props and silly actions, all of which can be seamlessly reproduced in Second Life but not in the physical world. (Or would require lots of manpower and money to carry out) Second Life, or any other virtual platform, is perhaps the best medium in which viewers can immerse in and feel the ‘real-ness’ of their performances.