As an assignment for Playgrounds Festival, we were asked to create an installation that showcased the relation between nature and technology. We were quickly fascinated by the subject ‘light’ and how it is often used to simulate life, though light sources are rarely found in organisms.
Our inspiration was affectionate technology and robots like Baymax (from Disney’s Big Hero 6) and Pepper. We started by doing a lot of interaction tests, to see how different colours of light would feel. We also tested the reactions people had to certain sounds, movements and shapes. Based on the conclusions from these tests we set up a plan, and got to work.
The goal was to create an object that would feel like a real creature. The creature can be picked up after which it will react to the person holding it, thus invoking feelings of affection.
We had two programmers on this project, of which I was one. We had barely any knowledge of arduino prior to this assignment, but we learned a lot and managed to whip together a combination of a sensor, lights and sound. This ball reacts to the way it is moved, and changes its behaviour accordingly. Since we had multiple balls, I made them each behave a bit different from each other. This, combined with laying them in a nest of leaves and moss, made them feel like real organic characters.