LAB: Organic Activation

Activating everyday objects with Disney's Touché technique

Whenever the Tech team was in between projects at Second Story, we spent time in our workshop space, affectionately called “The Lab”. This was our time to experiment with new technologies and novel uses of tried & true technologies, or to create small-scale capability-showcase experiences in collaboration with one of our excellent designers. I experimented with technologies such as Tanvas, BrightSign, WebGL, RFID, and Nanoleaf. Read about my very first Lab project below.

Organic Activation was the first lab project I worked on with Second Story. I was asked to repurpose an everyday object as a novel touch interaction interface combined with light and sound output, using Disney Research’s Touché technique. This technique uses swept-frequency capacitive sensing to turn any real world object into a touch interface. I experimented with different conductive materials to determine the material that gave the most enjoyable variation in light and sound output based on touch location, surface area, and duration.

The end result was a touch-activated plastic cup of water which illuminated a row of 9 Philips Color Cove LED bars and generated sound emitted from a Bluetooth speaker. When the user touched the outside of the cup or put their fingers in the water, a number of LEDs illuminated corresponding to how the water cup was touched, and the speaker emitted code-generated sound using the sound synthesis library, Mozzi.

Other projects: