Flower Power Arduino Tech
Components: Arduino Uno Board, Mini Servo Motors, Ultrasonic Sensor, LEDs, Paper & Cardboard Illustrations, Polymer Clay Sculptures, Wires, Wooden Dowels, Acrylic Paint
The idea for this project stemmed (pun) from the idea of a singing flower. I keep a smiley flower plush toy on my desk, as a work companion and thought of how a singing, dancing happy flower, similar to the Japanese toy, Flower Rock, would be an interesting Arduino project. Thorough more learning and researching of the possibilities of my Arduino kit, I pivoted to more of a storybook interactive scenery.
The story takes place in the land of good and evil flowers. You, the explorer, happen to witness the scene of minion soldiers, a lieutenant, and the giant plush happy flower – the all reigning Monarch of the Flower land. When the explorer comes close, the minions rotate from smiling faces to their surprised/angry expressions. When the explorer edges even closer, the Lieutenant rotates and shows its anger face, and the Red LEDs of the Monarch lights up. To gamify the interaction, the explorer can stealthy attempt to reach the base of the Monarch with a flower decoy stick, or another stick animal.
My early process work had different variations of the types of user interactions that the piece would accept, either sound, motion, distance, light. The original idea involved gutting apart the flower plushie to install wiring, which I felt was too gruesome a fate for such a peaceful flower. Hence, the idea of creating more of a scenery with multi-sized paper minions, reminiscent of Super Paper Mario or Yoshi’s Crafted World was the later direction of the piece.
I was experimenting with the different components of the Arduino kit, and decided to use the micro servo motor as the base for the flower soldier’s movements, as well as LED lights. The experience would start when the user is a certain physical distance (40cm) to the sculpture, and another event occurs when the user is even closer (20cm). The code was combined from 2 different Arduino sketches with tinkering of variables and measurements to suite the prototype’s size.
The circuitry is hidden underneath the googly-eyed yellow box, with only the distance sensor being in view. The exact speed, rotational degrees, and placement of the motors had to be fine-tuned with the actual placement of the paper flowers and reinforced with electrical tape, as the physical weight and constant movement presented problems for securing all the parts in place.
Originally, the plan was to power the Arduino board with a 9V battery, but unfortunately the battery would not provide enough power. The alternative was to use power through a laptop thorough an USB cord, which can still be easily hidden.
Gamification of the scene by letting the user to place an object to act as a trigger for the interaction.