Since the lab’s conception, the window of the ArtSciLab has been underutilized. Currently, there is a whiteboard that never gets updated with new information, and to the casual observer, there is nothing to differentiate the lab from other rooms in the ATEC.
Supervised by Professor Cassini, Marcus Gonzalez worked alongside two ArtSciLab members; Jacob Hunwick and Adnan Ahmer Syed to create a display piece that represents the collaboration between art and science that happens at the lab; in the hopes of sparking interest into the projects in the lab and developing the overall aesthetic and presence of the lab to those passing by.
One of the key steps for any project in the lab is ideation; oftentimes using something like sticky notes to brainstorm and concept map. We took that idea and ran with it; splitting up the logo into its three parts (Art, Sci, and Lab) and created three modular boxes that can be arranged in a multitude of ways. Modularity enables the lab to rearrange the piece to intrigue even those who walk by the lab often.
When determining how we wanted the sculpture to look; its distinctive effect was a lucky accident that occurred as we were testing the acrylic. When you look at the sculpture from different angles the effect looks different due to the way light refracts through the acrylic. When the LED lights are “moving” another effect is created, the letters flicker and move. This effect occurs because of the LEDs projecting the clear letters from the inner acrylic layer onto the second layer from different angles, and as the LEDs blink the projection angle changes rapidly.
The sculpture has a Raspberry Pi and a video camera that it uses to detect the presence of people within the vicinity of the prototype. Currently, it has an LED animation that is always on and once someone enters the field of view of the camera it will change the animation to try and catch the persons attention. Once the person leaves the vicinity of the prototype the effect will turn back to the default animation.
Careful thought was done in choosing the technology to use as well as the creation of the box so further development on the project is possible. There is so much more that can be done with computer vision than what we have right now. Compartments were made so that extra sensors like a microphone can add voice reactivity to the sculpture. Availability is one of the mothers of innovation, and now that there is an actual prototype to work with rather than just the idea of having something cool in the window I look forward to seeing what the lab will do with it in the future.