Technical Designs

Celestial connections uses cloud to transform natural physical divisions in the urban space into medium for digital connection

Since 2020, Covid 19 has put me behind a screen. Although this may seem temporary, I believe connecting via digital mediums will become more and more the norm. We must learn to see digital tools as a new medium to build meaningful connections with each other, nature and our urban environment. This inspired me to pursue the technical side this project.


Each sensor station has a microprocessor which is in charge of the following functionality: controls sensor, i.e. reads heartbeat sensor data form user, transmits raw sensor data and beat to central processing component, reads average heartbeat from the systems, controls lights in the sensor station, controls vibration in the sensor station.

Visualisation component

The current implementation of the visualization component is done with TouchDesigner. It reads the sensor data and the average heartbeat from the central processing component and uses these data to render the visualizations. A mapping will be needed to enhance the responsiveness of the urban space.

Cloud Application

The could application is the central processing component. It gathers the data from all sensor stations in the system, it persists the data up to an interval of time. It computes and makes the average heartbeat available to all nodes in the system. Transmits the data collected form each sensor unit to the visualization component. All the data is via transmitted via REST endpoints using JSON messaging.

Sensor Station

This is a model on how one of the sensor stations could look like.

You can interact with the model, consider making a section cut to see inside.

Prototype stations

I made several prototypes to collect the sensor data. Getting the sensor working directly communicating with the Arduino is pretty straightforward with the libraries available. You can find the code here

After this there are two main challenges. The sensor itself, and cleaning up the data. Although future development of the project will need to address the physical set up of the sensor this is not the core of the technical problem.

The core technical problem is to clean up the real time data stream. In order to solve this, I made several patches in TouchDesigner to smooth out the data flow. Here you can find the whole .toe file. 

The above prototype is the one I used for the MAB proposal.