Physical Computing Final with Rob Faludi, Fall 2010. In collaboration with Chris Cannon, Tina Ye, and Catherine Young.

Challenge

Devise a project that would utilize a semester’s knowledge of physical computing and build things to create an interactive experience.

Approach

We started this project by individually ideating several concepts. What random explorations did we want to accomplish using our newfound physical computing knowledge? After forming a team and deciding on a glorified pillow fight, we broke down our process into several steps:

1) Figure out the mechanics of having a pillow fight and how it would give feedback;
2) construct the pillows and necessary devices;
3) and finally, construct a story or framework for the pillow fight.

We also kept a few key questions in mind as we began to prototype. What kind of feedback does a pillow fight necessitate? What are problem areas in pillow fights? How do they begin and end? And are there defined rules or parameters?

Outcome

Pillow Fight Club integrates physical computing with a real pillow fight to encourage participants’ fighting spirits. Specially engineered pillows are outfitted with accelerometers to detect their motion. These communicate with a computer via XBee radios. Participants are then rewarded with a variety of visual and auditory feedback.

Addendum

Through this process, we discovered that auditory feedback was primary in enhancing this game, even more so than visual feedback. “Fighters” were too immersed in the game to really pay attention to the visuals, while the auditory feedback helped to frame an experience. And at the end of the day, our biggest realization was that pillow fights are fun regardless of the mechanics involved.

    Making observations by... well, having a pillow fight!

    Making observations by... well, having a pillow fight!

    Testing the XBee to see what it was all about

    Testing the XBee to see what it was all about

    And then, playing around with the XBee radio components.

    And then, playing around with the XBee radio components.

    Because the pillows had to be wirelessly configured, we had to connect the Arduino to a battery

    Because the pillows had to be wirelessly configured, we had to connect the Arduino to a battery

    Schematic of the encasement for the device which had to be created to precise dimensions to prevent the components from shaking or falling apart

    Schematic of the encasement for the device which had to be created to precise dimensions to prevent the components from shaking or falling apart

    The foam core helped to absorb the shock from pillow impact

    The foam core helped to absorb the shock from pillow impact