Designers, programmers, mechanical as well as electrical engineers have to work together for a digitally oriented product to be successful. Often, the technological departments are disconnected from the actual usage and lack essential understanding of how their technological contribution affects the user experience of the end product.
The Comet Kit offers a solution in the form of an room size interaction toolkit for people not familiar with the user experience side of interactive technology. The name stems from the way a light particle appears to be travelling from pole to pole. In contrast to the intangible light, all poles are deliberately made robust and given a mechanical appearance.
The light that travels around can be adjusted at three so-called switch poles. These poles change the colour, the speed/direction, and the tail length of the light, each of the poles offering a different interaction modality to match the property they affect.
By experimenting with these three independent variables, users can collaborate to find out how different settings affect the way the light is perceived. They can also experience hoe well they understand the effect their local actions have on the global behaviour of an intangible element like the travelling light. These experiences will provide them with inspiration and insights for their own related projects.
My role on this project, as its lead soft/hardware engineer, was to devise and implement a logic for the poles to operate and communicate amongst each other, as well as to coordinate the various kinds of sensor data provided by the different switch poles. This required a high degree of communication with the other team members in charge of the embodiment and conceptual behaviour of the installation.
The below video shows the final prototype in action:
Instructors: Aadjan van der Helm, Tomasz Jaskiewicz, Ianus Keller
Students: Stephan Hooft, Vera Konietschke, Sascha Naji, Alice Schut, Qu Zhelu