Team Members: Kevin Chu, Swostik Pati, Shreya Goel, Erica Wu

Interaction with the Environment

Desert terrain is often misunderstood as a dry place without life. However, the desert is still part of nature and has life to it, with flora and fauna native to its environment. The living stones are plants unique to southern African desert environments that look like stones. This inspires our project to depict the presence of life in the desert by creating interactive living stones that present their liveliness when faced with changes in their surroundings, such as touch and light. The stones will glow when sudden light is shined upon them and will open up when touched to reveal a hidden flower to depict the life it has and the interdependent life it maintains. As people search for life in the desert, these interactive living stones will present themselves when discovered.


Technical Design

The project consists of a number of living stones in small pyramidal structures, where at the center of each lies a flower. The entire outer layer of the structure is made from translucent acrylic that is laser-cut to give the perfect shape. The flowers are 3D-printed using white PLA and later colored. These stones will be installed and blended among the desert’s natural environment, such as in small green shrubs/bushes. Each stone will contain an LED/neo pixel, a light sensor, a touch/pressure sensor, a speaker, a servo motor, and a flower. As people will flash light in the desert environment, the stones will glow and produce sound if the flashlight falls on them, revealing themselves as life in the desert. The mp3 audio files are uploaded to the M4 Featherwing board from which they are relayed to the speaker. Due to the light produced by one of the stones, the neighboring stones also start glowing. Upon touching/applying pressure, the stone will open and reveal another layer of life by presenting a flower inside it. The opening mechanism of the stones (pyramidal structures) is implemented by using a pressure/touch sensor and a servo motor.

Context of Desert

Our project thus refers to the metaphor that the desert is filled with life and how the lives it holds are interdependent on each other. Its interdependence is exemplified when the living stone maintains the life of the flower inside it. This project is specifically made for the desert environment as its installation in the desert represents the living component of the environment. The context is thus particularly important as our work is meant to be discovered in an assumed lifeless environment to express the liveliness of the environment. As life in the desert moves mostly during night time, our project will be interacted with after the sun sets, when explorers wander out to discover the desert’s environment and its life.

Inspiration References

Categories: Fall 2022