The Wisdom

interactive installation · design for public spaces
This project was done with Gaurika Singhal as part of Interaction Design Lab at HIT, Israel.
The project brief
The concept
The aim of the project was to create an interactive interface for a public space using Arduino. Given the scope, we could identify any problem area or opportunity to work towards.
The Wisdom Machine is an Arduino powered setup that encourages and gives incentive to people to donate by interacting with it.
Piecemeal contributions are psychologically easier for people to make.
Instant gratification
Seeing cause and effect instantly is very fulfilling.
Herd mentality
spreading Delight
Public installations are a great medium to spread joy and reach a lot of people at once.
When you see someone else do something, you are impelled to do it.
What is the Wisdom Machine
Once the movie finishes playing, the motor hidden in the fortune dispenser pushes one card containing the fortune down from the deck of hidden cards, which the user can pull out.
The setup, ideal for a public space, consists of a coin receiver that collects the donations, a television screen and a fortune dispenser. Since the donator receives a fun, quirky 'fortune' at the end, we called this setup The Wisdom Machine.
How it works
The sequence of events
The intent was to make piecemeal donations fun, interesting and joyful.
The coin receiver has an Arduino board attached to a LED and a light sensor placed strategically under the slit for the coin. When a user puts a coin, the sensor detects momentary darkness which gets the animated movie playing via Processing.
Prototyping & Execution
01 —
Prototyping the physical setup
The prototyping of this project has two main parts. The first part was the actual physical setup of the donation installation. The second part was the creation of the movie that orchestrates the journey between coin donation (trigger) and the fortune being dispensed.
The coin receiver and the fortune dispenser were hand-made out of used cardboard boxes.
An Arduino board was fitted in the coin receiver, which was programmed using Processing with a light sensor and a motor.
Screenshots of how the light sensor and the motor were programmed using Arduino and Processing.

02 —
Making of the movie
To tell the story of a coin journeying to become 'wisdom' we decided to shoot a stop-motion film using layered paper-cutouts.
The set was laid out on a sheet of paper, and various props were arranged as the setting for the story to take place. All the props were hand-made and animated manually during the shoot.
03 —
The story
The stop-motion film shows the journey of the coin as it makes its way through someone's imagination. We wanted participants to trace the coin as it navigates through various machines, countries, spheres of the earth (and even space!) gaining wisdom along the way before it translates into a tangible fortune.
As soon as the coin is inserted, the movie begins showing the coin navigating through various settings, gaining 'wisdom' along the way before it becomes the actual tangible fortune that is dispensed.
The idea for the story also came from the concept of Rube Goldberg machines, named after American cartoonist Rube Goldberg, where a machine is intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way.
The final movie
The final movie follows the coin as it makes its way through peculiar contraptions, various countries, travels to space and interacts with several different objects before turning into a piece of wisdom.
The final setup
The final demonstration of this experience was setup in a circus themed arrangement with the movie projector, coin receiver and fortune-dispenser positioned to mimic a circus game.
The reaction
The demo was shown to a large audience and was very well-received. The whimsical setup, the quirky details of the animated movie and the absurd fortunes made the donation experience super fun and engaging.