Carnegie Mellon University_ Masters of Human Computer Interaction

Course: Reactive Spaces Studio

Client: Carnegie Library at Knoxville

Individual Project

Duration : 2 weeks

Skills:  Research_ Processing Programming_ Visual Design_ Physical Prototyping.

Project summary

The aim of this project was to take advantage of the Lightwall outside of the Library to design something that resonates with the library visitors. It was crucial to take into account the environment of our design.

I created a simple game to get the children at the library more interested in technology. The game had to be simple enough that, if interested, they could replicate it in a workshop.

The game is made in Processing. It uses sound input to create visuals and to interact with the Lightwall outside of the library. 

Lightwall outside of the Carnegie Library at Knoxville.

Lightwall outside of the Carnegie Library at Knoxville.

Design inspiration

Carnegie Library Environment

The Carnegie Library at Knoxville is a community hub, where families bring their children and spend the day. For some children, this is the only venue where they can access computers. This places the staff at the library in a unique position to familiarize the children with emerging technologies.

The Lightwall

The Outside Lightwall at the library is programmable with a simple API. Lights can either burst or sweep from side to side. People who learn programming at the library can immediately see the impact of their code in the physical world.   

Design Idea

I decided to create a simple game for children that interacts with the Lightwall.

Simulation of how the wall reacts to input

Simulation of how the wall reacts to input

Concept development

Input: A lot of kids enjoy being loud and noisy; some even enjoy making random sounds. So, I wanted my design to leverage their natural, instinctive interests.  

Output: I based the design of the interface on "delight in exaggeration".  Exaggeration is a common tool animators use create a comical effect and surprise the audience.  Roger Rabbit's reactions are good examples of this principle.


At the same time, I wanted the screen visual interface of the game to be simple, and in tune with the simple and organic shapes that the Lightwall could produce.

Shapes: I used circles and ovals, because despite the distortion in form moving from a circle to an oval, this transition is still smooth, and congruent with our expectation of how the world functions, be it squishy balls or balloons. 

Colors: The blinking colors of the shapes are there to match the energy level and excitement of young kids.


This is how the system works:

Flow Diagram of the system.

Flow Diagram of the system.


Final Design

For my game, I used voice input to transform circles into galactic ovals, and create bursts of light.  
The greatest reward was to see the children's excitement!