Superhero cape progress

This was a  super successful week for the superhero cape team! Eve and I managed to put in a lot of hours, tested many things, and have a much clearer vision for our final project. The main issue we faced this week was finding the right microcontroller for our project.

Last Thursday, which feels like a year ago, we met with Benedetta who helped us troubleshoot our issues with using the BlueFruit with the Arduino Mini. Two important things we learned was that there was an issue with the BlueFruit and accelerometer we were using. We spoke a lot about how we could calculate speed with the accelerometer. The advice she gave us was to go back to testing on the Uno until we are certain about the data we are getting. This was hard personally to go a few steps backwards, but retrospectively it was all so worth it!

As recommended by Benedetta, I went back to the serial lab input labs when we graphed data from Arduino. First I mapped all three axis points in different colors, and then just limited it to the data we will actually be using, which is mainly the z-axis. This ended up being a great way to initially tests other things.

When we started to feel more comfortable with the data, Eve worked on a cape calibration programmed through p5, which turned out AWESOMELY!

Since the data aspect was good, I went to focus on starting to fabricate glove prototypes. After talking to Teresa in the Soft Lab, we spoke about the idea of making fingerless gloves, which will eliminate anticipate issues with sizing. I then whipped up a shiny, purple glove.

IMG_3104 2

Thankfully, Friday was Soft Club meeting was all about big switches. It was great to talk with other ITPers who are interested in soft fabrication and soft circuitry. Plus, it was awesome to discuss and walk through ideas. I have been progressively getting more and more interested in this topic. Jason Beck is very knowledgeable about soft circuitry with his amazing work in assistive technology and very generous with his time (and basically has anything you could imagine to borrow).

Having the glove prototype helped me to visualize the rest of the project. For the past few weeks I have been designing the cape to have the gloves attached to sleeves that would be sewn in. This would mean that the microcontroller would live in the back of the cape and wires would run down to each arm. This would be kind of complicated, especially for someone with no experience with soft circuitry at this scale. Teresa and I discussed this a lot and I would just need to make sure the wires are secured, but also flexible to accommodate the users’ movements. This made me very nervous as I was uncertain I’d be able to successfully build this.

I put that aside on Saturday and worked on implementing the accelerometer data inside of a sketch made with a webgl canvas in p5.

The complicated part of this was making sure the incoming data was adding to the camera. Initially they were at the same speed, which meant each time the accelerometer would drop, or return to the resting state the camera would then jump back.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 9.19.17 AM

This was a great success for us and allowed us to think more about our next prototyping tests.

Saturday took a turn for me later in the day, however. I began thinking more about the cape and all of the wires and the uncertainty of not knowing which micrcontroller we would be using. I am not sure why it to took me so long to realize that by having the gloves attached to the sleeves of the cape would hinder tall people to use the cape. Then I decided to consider having a microcontroller in the actual glove. This would eliminate my concerns with the wires and allow the cape to have more movements.

On Sunday I spent most of the day exploring microcontrollers: sensorTag, RFduino, and Moteino. We reached a place where our uncertainty of microcontrollers led us to be swayed in every direction that came our way. Teresa emailed me Sunday night to tell me about a microcontroller that might be “the one”– The Adafruit Feather 32u4 BlueFruit LE.  Finally, we decided to take office hours with Tom for Monday to discuss this further.

After meeting with Tom he helped us understand more the data we were receiving. He looked more into the Adafruit Feather and confirmed it would be a good choice to try out. So, we bit the bullet and ordered one with a lipo battery. In the meantime he advised us to test the accelerometer on a Leonardo, as its processor is the same to the Feather, meaning once we get the Feather it would a simple transition.

After that I spent some time trying to work with Adruino Mini + BlueFruit. This worked with the accelerometer. So I decided to solder more wires on the board to accommodate a switch and make it more compact to test with. That led to an hour of soldering that should have taken less time and ultimately did not work. For sanity’s sake, I put that aside and went back to the Uno. My goal was to not only get the accelerometer working, but also a switch in order to emulate our final project.

This was very challenging for me. The data coming in for the switch and accelerometer was fine in the serial monitor and the console in p5, however, the push button wasn’t changing the background (as I coded it to), but rather it sped up the camera. That’s when I realized the data was interfering. Finally I was able to get it to work.

The next challenge was doing that same thing on a Leonardo. Simple, right? 7 hours later…

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 9.52.49 AM

Now I feel ready for the next steps. Prototyping this inside of a glove.

As for the cape, I worked on simulating the cape’s fun effects when the user puts it on.


Final project updates

So, we have a cape prototype finally. Making the cape was helpful in understanding the hardware, material and placement of the microcontroller, accelerometers, sleeves/gloves, and wires.

IMG_3090 IMG_3093 IMG_3091

There were a few successes this week:

  • I was able to get the Flora Accelerometer with the Arduino Uno to work.IMG_3058

After this, we mapped the raw data coming in from Arduino to p5. This allowed us to see how the serial data would translate to the speed in p5.

The next step was going from the Uno to a smaller microcontroller. The next microcontroller I tried was the Arduino Mini paired with the BlueFruit.


BlueFruit working!

Final playtesting

We are happy with our progress so far with our Superhero Cape project. On the coding side, we have built the skeleton of what we will use. Visually our next steps are to finalize the images and animations that will be seen in the final version. One issue we have had is the length of loading time–when the sketch is run through the p5 editor, it seems to take a super long time to load, which is unsurprising with the amount of PNG files in the asset folder. When the sketch is run in the browser, however, the loading time is only a few seconds.

The game begins with a looping animation, which is preloaded and was made through After Effects. When the game is loaded, music begins and the camera turns on, of which is only important in the final scene.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.25.50 AM

The cape will eventually work as a sensor. Here is the current prototype of the cape. As you can see, it’s prototyped for baby superhero.


Once the cape is on, p5 will begin the game by telling the user of their mission. Here the user will use their fist to trigger the button, which will be made with conductive fabric on the right glove of the cape. Thanks to Eve’s incredible motion graphics experience and amazing animation skills, every scene will be animated to reflect a playful child-like imagination.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.15.39 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.33.27 AM

The next scene the user will be using their flying skills. These skills will be proved by how much the user moves. Two accelerometers will be located in both the right and left sleeve of the user’s cape. Each flying skill test will be measured by the raw data of the accelerometer, which we mapped to reflect the speed of the user’s flying in the game.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.33.13 AM

*Although we have sent the raw serial data to p5 from Arduino, I am currently working on using a smaller microcontroller, Arduino Mini with BlueFruit.


The user will have 30 seconds to make an orbit around the Earth. If they don’t then the game is over, but if they do, they will get a picture taken in the local newspaper.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.20.50 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.21.16 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.21.33 AM


For the enclosure assignment I decided to make something I need for my final project for ICM and PComp. For the past couple of weeks I have been working on an interactive superhero cape, which will control a web-based game on p5. I have been working on the design of the cape with Kate and getting a lot of soft circuitry help from Teresa and Isabel.

The cape will have a microcontroller in the back that will have wires running down to the sleeves/gloves that will house 2 accelerometers.


I started with fabric I had ordered for the cape on Amazon. I got about 60 inches of this purple and gold metallic fabric.

IMG_3077 IMG_3078

First I measured and cut (which is super hard) the purple at about 20 x 16 inches. Then I did the same to the gold.



Once I cut them. I pinned them together with the sides I want on the outside. Luckily, that was about the time that Isabel showed up in the soft lab to inform me that material is very difficult to sew.

IMG_3086 3

So, then I flipped the materials around. I wanted to sew 4 sides in order to have a type of flap at the top that would eventually be the enclosure.

IMG_3087 2

However, I did a silly thing and sewed all 4 sides shut before  flipping the material I wanted on the outside. I ripped out the thread and started over.

IMG_3088 2

I then sewed the last side and left a half inch on each side that would allow wires to feed through. Then I cut out when the enclosure would be and added some velcro .


After adding some conductive thread for the tie, I had a model test it out.


Final update + motor

FullSizeRender 43  IMG_3023

Since last Thursday, there have been a lot of changes made to the superhero cape! I am very happy in the direction of it at this point, even though there are still many questions we have yet to answer. Last Friday after a great 1-1 session with Benedetta and a sewing lesson with Teresa, I came to the realization that I want this cape to be all about the physical interaction without much focus on the screen. I began playing around with an accelerometer to understand how it reads data and furthermore how it will be used. That led to user-testing the cape with people on the floor. I tried finding people who weren’t aware of the project in order to see how people really fly. What I learned is that everyone flies differently, which is great information and makes me wonder how to explore that. What it also showed was that I must design the cape in a way that it is intuitive to the user.

Below is an example of how someone might fly without touching the cape at all.


Also, some people immediately grab the sides of the cape and begin to move from right to left. This got me thinking, how can I design the cape in a way to make everyone hold onto the right and left sides.

IMG_3026 2

I sketched up a new design idea for the cape, which includes sleeves. Therefore a user would put the cape on and then slide their arms into the sleeves.

FullSizeRender 42

After sketching this up, I went to the sewing machine with my new skills and sewed on fabric to prototype this idea. I then tested this design. What I learned is that people still wanted to fly in their own way. The cape actually ripped during this testing, which also taught that material is important!


I also got feedback that in addition to sleeves, superhero gloves would add to the experience. I sketched up what these gloves would look like and how they would work.


Below is the 3rd story idea, which has changed since.


FullSizeRender 23

To get some more inspiration, I visited the Superhero Store in Park Slope.

FullSizeRender 44

Here is the most recent sketch of the cape.

FullSizeRender 45

updated draft

Laser cutter: Treasure Map

This week I wanted to focus on making something simple with the laser cutter. Initially, I was inspired by my PComp/ICM final project–in the project one of the elements is that the user must “fly” from one point to the next in order to gain superhero skills. Below is a sketch of the original map.

FullSizeRender 36

This then got me thinking about treasure maps. This past summer I was fortunate to go to the magical place in the world, Disney World, with my boyfriend and his 6 year old son. There we experienced a new gamified experience in Magic Kingdom, which is called “Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom”. This is basically an experience, in which you must defeat 8 villains that are hiding in the different lands of the kingdom. Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom is pretty cool, but even cooler with the excitement of a 6 year old. We were given a map like this. As you can see it’s fairly vague. It gives you small images to represent the keyholes you must find and activate within the land, but the only other reference is the roofs of the building structures. The entire experience refueled a love for old-timey treasure maps and love for the movie, “The Goonies”.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 10.59.28 AM

This further inspired me to design a treasure map to cut on the laser cutter. I worked with Shir David, who has a lot of experience with Illustrator and she helped me get the design I wanted. I originally thought of cutting on a cork-like material, but I ended up really liking the results on the wood.

FullSizeRender 29

FullSizeRender 30

After I used the laser cutter, I decided to shape the wood to look more like a map. I drew an outline on the wood and then used the band saw. This was my first time to use the band saw to make lines that aren’t straight and it was quite challenging. After cutting it, I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be with it, so I used the power sander to mold the piece more into what I wanted.

FullSizeRender 32


Below is a sketch of the most recent iteration of my superhero cape:

FullSizeRender 18

Since there will be a lot of moving parts and new things I have yet to attempt (p5, bluetooth, soft fabrication) I have decided to use conductive fabric in order to create switches. In addition to the cape, there will also be a mask and gloves.

During play-testing I want to observe how people interact with the cape. Using the slides for the potential story (that will be written on p5), I will get a better idea of how people integrate the cape, mask, and gloves with the story,

Slides for p5 draft

Superheroes- Draft 2

Bill of materials

Conductive fabric:

Price: $20.54

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.14.21 PM

Cape (for prototyping):

Price: $9

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.15.37 PM

Mask & gloves (for prototyping):

Price: $9


Price: (short) $6 and (long) $11

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.21.14 PM

Conductive thread:

Price: $8

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 4.25.16 PM

LilyPad Arduino



Week 11/2:

  • Draw a schematic of the cape
  • Research LilyPad vs. Arduino Mini (bluetooth)
  • Play test cape and record feedback
  • Sew (attach) conductive fabric on cape, mask, and gloves

Week 11/9

  •  User-test cape prototype

Week 11/16

  • Connect Arduino to p5

Week 11/23

  • User-test cape with p5 story

Final proposal: Welcome all superheroes

For my final ICM project, I will be collaborating with Eve Weinberg from Dano’s class. We both share a love for children’s books and have been working together for Samsung’s VR lab. The idea for creating a story around superheroes arose from a thought I had to make an interactive superhero cape for my PComp final. Eve had reached out separately to gauge my interest in collaborating on an interactive story for ICM. These ideas alone seemed cool, but the opportunity to combine them sounded like basically the most exciting idea ever.

Why superheroes? Great question! Before ITP I had taught English as a Second Language for a variety of ages, demographics in several geographic locations. Although I taught children for 2 years, most of my experience is in teaching multilingual adults. I was one of those teachers who secretly believes/wishes they are a motivational speaker. This led me to putting any teaching activity on hold to give a 5-10 minute talk to my students about why they were there. Why were they learning English? Why were they in NYC? Why were they in San Diego? Why are they in this specific class? It almost served as a reminder to them and myself when we tend to get a little comfortable in class and forget how important it is to be engaged in your own learning process.

Additionally, when I served on City Year at a high school in Queens as the 9th grade Literacy Coordinator, I spent most of my day having conversations with my students about their lives in and outside of school. Maybe you’re thinking what’s the point of that if my objective was to help them read and write better. And even more, maybe you’re thinking what the hell does this have to do with your ICM final idea. In short, I believe that everyone’s a superhero, but it’s an individual’s choice to practice their personal super powers. I also don’t not believe I am the only teacher in the world who thinks like this. In fact, I am under the firm belief that all teachers believe this about their students. In this project, I want to explore how we can show anyone they’re a superhero. I hope to convey what it means to be a superhero and help people find that power within themselves.

Is this meant for kids? Another fantastic question! Yes and no. Of course, we want to empower kids, but we also want adults to unleash their child-like imagination.

Learning can be both incredibly empowering and paralyzingly scary. In order to learn, one needs to be vulnerable, in order to be vulnerable, one needs to feel comfortable. In order to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation, one must trust their learning environment.


Summary: In this interactive story, a user will have the opportunity to test their skills as a superhero in order to save their school from a blackout. The story will begin by putting on a cape (possibly a mask and gloves) that will help the user navigate through the experience. They will learn about 5 superhero traits: wisdom, compassion, focus, bravery, and confidence. For each trait they will complete a task to get them closer to the fuse box, which will help them turn on the lights and save the school.

To get some inspiration, we visited the bookstore, Books of Wonder.


IMG_2973       IMG_2973

We found a lot of great books to read and use as resources.

IMG_2977       IMG_2976


After creating an outline of the story, we then decided our text would rhyme.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.24.53 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.14.50 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.15.11 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.17.44 AM

These are a few slides that represent what our story will look like in p5.

FullSizeRender 18

ICM final draft

Posted in ICM

Multiples: Tinker Toys

IMG_3005 IMG_3009

This week I wanted to make some type of toy for our multiples assignment. I first thought of making a variation of the toy, Lincoln Logs:

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 3.29.20 PM

After some thought about my own childhood, I thought of another beloved toy, Tinker Toys.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 7.03.47 PM


1 3/4, 36 inch square dowel

1 1, 36 inch square dowel

1 5/16th, 36 inch round dowel

1 1/4th, 36 inch round dowel



Band saw

Drill press

Drill bits

Miter saw

Sand paper


Order of operations:

The first thing I did was decide how long I wanted each wooden block. I began with 2 inches and measured out 5 blocks. I learned even my measuring skills are  a bit rusty.


After I headed into the wood shop, I was partially terrified since I have never used any of these machines beside from demos during class. I started with the miter saw, which was difficult more to in a pattern with cutting them out. Since the blade itself is 1/8 inch, my pieces kept coming out a bit shorter, meaning I had to repeatedly measure 2 inches after each cut.



In the end, I was pretty happy with the results.


I then measured post-cutting to see how accurately I cut using the Miter saw. Then I began sanding each block.



I used the remaining wood to cut out 1 and 3 inch blocks. The 1 inch blocks were definitely the most challenging. And even after sanding them, they are uneven.



Since I bought 1 inch and 3/4 inch square dowels and 5/16th and 1/4th inch round dowels. My plan was to drill 5/16th holes into the 1 inch squares and 1/4th holes in the 3/4 inch squares.

My next step was to cut out some round dowel pieces that would eventually fit in the 1 inch squares. I used the band saw for this since the wood was thinner than the square dowel.



This process was much better than the miter saw. I had less of an issue with the size of the blade since the blade is thinner than the miter saw.

FullSizeRender 17

In the picture above it shows the 1/4th and 5/16th round dowels cut out. As well as the 3/4 inch square dowels, which I prefer over the larger square dowels. It also shows the beginning of drilling into the squares to create holes for the round dowels to fit in.

In order to drill the holes, I measured the placement of each hole. Holy, measuring! Another testament at ITP of my lacking math skills.


I felt pretty comfortable with the drill press. I am very happy with my results given it was my first experience using most of these tools.






Now we have blocks and rods to use and create into any shape you’d like!