News of Berkeley :: An Interactive Pathway

Submitted by ajeeta on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 23:01
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Final Project Proposal :: News of Berkeley, An Interactive Pathway


Team Members: Christine Schantz, Ajeeta Dhole, Michael Craig



For our final project, we would like to create a simplified prototype of the interactive pathway we proposed for our midterm.  

Where that pathway would have been situated in Sproul Plaza and would have used an array of recording devices to collect news of Berkeley from the conversations (and submitted messages) of passersby, this prototype will be displayed in the TUI classroom.

For practicality’s sake, we will use a pre-determined data set of news culled from sources available on the UCB campus (Daily Cal, etc.)  

In reality, the system would use IR camera tracking to track multi-user movement, and a projector to project words that move with users, along the pathway. For the demo prototype, we will use one of the two simplified implementations described below.

Despite these simplifications, however, we are hopeful that this prototype will embody the core principle of our project: to cull key words from news stories about and around the Berkeley community and to project those words into an interactive environment in which users can “play” with the news of the day in dynamic and creative ways.

Implementation Methods

At present, we are considering two different implementation methods for this prototype.

1) The first of these implementations is probably the closest to our original plan. In this version, several FSRs and/or photocells would be embedded along a pre-determined (visual) track in a dark mat on the floor, and would respond to the pressure of users walking on the mat.  When a user steps on the mat, a projector positioned overhead will project a keyword from our data set onto the spot where the user walks, and the word will then “follow” the user as he walks along the mat from one FSR to another. Additionally, the user will be able to interact with the keyword at each FSR pressure point. We would like to implement at least a few of the interactions described in our midterm proposal: “kick” the word bubbles and “pass” words from one user to another, “stomp” on and “pop-out” undesirable words, “splash- out” more words, “tap” word tiles to “flip” and “reveal” words, and create “hybrid” word bubbles by pressing two words against one another.

2) The second implementation is a slight variation on the first, and serves as a workaround to line-of-sight issues with users’ bodies obstructing light projected onto the floor. In this version, as in the previous one, input will be processed via an array of FSRs embedded in a mat on the floor, but the words and user movement will be projected onto a vertical screen adjacent to the mat rather than onto the mat itself.  Although this potentially reduces (or abstracts) the “embodied” aspect of the interaction, we believe that projecting on a screen may make the implementation easier.

Here, as well, the words on the screen will move with the user, and visually respond to sensor inputs, to create interactions like those described previously.

Additionally, with either implementation, a screen will display looping visuals and/or animation that describe the project proposal and how it would be designed to work in Sproul Plaza.

We are mindful of the comment raised during our midterm proposal about the political valence of what our project does with news information--about the possibility, for example, of raising user satisfaction or inciting polemical ire by letting users stomp on politically undesirable words over and over, or “expand” the size of desirable words.  We would like to find some way of accommodating these issues in our prototype--if nothing else, by increasing or decreasing the frequency with which certain words appear in proportion to how often they get “stomped out”--but, again, we are currently unsure of the feasibility of implementing any interaction more complex than simply projecting words on areas where pressure is applied.

We welcome feedback on both of these implementation options, as well as on the realizability of the more complex interactions alluded to throughout this proposal.


  • Visuals and/or animation demonstrating project concept and interactions

  • Simplified Prototype

  • Final Paper


  • Screen for visuals/animation

  • Projector

  • FSR sensors

  • Photocells

  • Mat (dark/black)

  • Possibly, a second screen for projected words and associated interactions

Display Space

  • To minimize light interference, we would like to request a relatively dark display space.


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