Carnegie Mellon University_ Masters of Human Computer Interaction

Course: Reactive Spaces Studio

Team: Yousef Kazerooni_Gyuri Han_Rj Villafor

Duration: 4 weeks

Skills:  Research_ Visual Design_ Data Visualization_ Physical Prototyping.

Project summary

At a time when we are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information, our aim was to prototype an unobtrusive experience. It would communicate what we cannot perceive.

We drew on unintelligible, unobservable, and underutilized information from the environment, and used them in ColorWalk, our final design, to tell a story. 

In its ideal form, ColorWalk uses cameras to track the ebb and flow of the crowd movement on the street during the day. At night, it projects these paths in a light show, recounting the story of those who congregated and those who parted, with every night offering a unique show.

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My role

I developed the ColorWalk concept and its visual design. In addition, I collaborated with my colleagues on research and coding.


Who to design for?

First, we needed to choose an audience. In order for our design to have maximum impact, we looked at different communities and how they could benefit from an installation.

We settled on Corktown, an up-and-coming neighborhood in South West Detroit, with lots of bars and restaurants that come to life at night, along historic Michigan Avenue. The installation aimed to bring visibility to the community. 

Corktown during the day

Corktown during the day


We created concept Posters, a type of parallel prototyping technique. Each of us created two-three sketches for the project. To critique, we gathered a group of designers in the MHCI studio and we pitched our ideas.

The audience voted for the idea that they thought was the most valuable and visually enticing. ColorWalk came out as the winner


ColorWalk Concept

ColorWalk leverages people’s joy of discovery.  It recounts the hussle and bussle of daily commotion at night.

In Detroit, small towns and communities are isolated from each other by big roads. ColorWalk can bring these communities together in Corktown, as it draws the curious from around detroit, and offers them a glimpse of the vibrancy of life during the day, and brings the night to life.

Walking Patterns

During the day cameras capture people’s motion on the street. The motion will be translated into a light projection onto the street at night, emphasizing where people’s paths crossed.

Here are a few of the different visualizations I tried

The shapes highlight cross-overs, giving you an idea of where most people walked through.

The shapes highlight cross-overs, giving you an idea of where most people walked through.

The patterns are not a one-to-one mapping of people's individual steps. 

The patterns are not a one-to-one mapping of people's individual steps. 

Data Flow

Initially, we had hoped to track pedestrians footsteps with arrays of pressure sensors integrated into the sidewalk and present the data using LEDs. However, given the cost and reliability issues we had to pivot.

A more cost effective method turned out to be a combination of computer vision and motion tracking to collect data and projectors to display the data. 

Final Prototype

To create a prototype, we laser cut a mock-up city, and used projectors, magic arms, and web cameras. We then projected ColorWalk, following the Wizard of Oz method.


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