Ambient Happiness


How might an interactive installation encourage strangers to safely connect in a public space on Market st.

Project Date:  November 2013
Project Length: 1 month
Team: Brian Wong, Naomi Kwon
Role: Fabricator, Programmer, Electronics, Composer, Videographer.

Week 1 – Testing the Waters

We started off curious as to how we could disrupt peoples everyday actions on the street using lightweight prototyping tools like a mirror, some pens and a roll of caution tape. It soon became evident that there is a sweet spot between disruption and invitation.


Week 2 – Better Affordances Needed

We went to our bus stop near Montgomery BART at rush hour to test our first electronic prototype. There were three sensors embedded in black fabric bands which when activated would unleash a cacophony of orchestral sound.

We hoped that users would discover the fabric bands and experience the music. The reality was that commuters needed a stronger call to action, one that was almost impossible to not play with. So we went back to the drawing board.


Week 3 – Affordance Prototyping

After we tried hanging some bells at a bus stop, we realized there was something instinctively attractive about a hanging orb that connects to a sound. We went on to experiment with other kinds of hanging objects before deciding that the orb was most effective. 


Week 4 – Implementation and Fabrication

We already had most of the code and music needed. I had composed some sounds on Ableton Live which we channeled into Arduino. The Arduino connected to our custom coded light array and homemade bend sensors which connected to two hanging glowing balls.

We lasercut all of our structure so it would fit perfectly into our bus stop. After a frantic night of installing, we got to experience the magic of actual people using and enjoying the project.