Robotic butterflies- DigiPlaySpace 2016 Submission

┬áThe final setting will be very similar, except will have the tree cut out on wood instead of being a decal. There’s wing design projection on the butterflies.

The butterflies have been to a lot of places and a lot of people loved them. It’s nothing too fancy- just a butterfly perched on different trees and other places. But everyone’s drawn to them. Maybe because they are butterflies? Maybe because they are actually not? Perhaps because they are moving? However they might seem like to each person, they are just very interesting. And I like putting them in new surroundings every time. This time, at digiPlaySpace- a place filled with their little friends.

This will be an installation of 15-20 robotic butterflies perched on an artificial tree, flaunting their pretty wings and happily flapping them when kids interact with them. The interaction is simple- kids’ movement will cause the butterflies to flap their wings. A depth-sensing camera will detect the intensity of movement (which will be high for hand waving), which will determine how many butterflies would be active and how much.

I wanted to create a simple cause and effect, playful piece of art that feels magical. I am a huge fan of interactions that span beyond the 2D world of screens. I have created both screen based work as well as physical stuff in the past, and every time the reactions I see when people look at the physical objects move, are filled with so much more enthusiasm! So, I decided on building this piece for the digiPlaySpace, so that I can amaze the kids at this event and make them see a little bit of tech-magic.

The butterflies are 3D printed and are modular. They are very easy to assemble and disassemble and pretty strong. The longest I have showcased the butterflies (in a differently themed setting) was at an art gallery and it ran stably everyday 5-6 hours, for the entire week of exhibition.


[Planned feature: Kids will be able to color the wings of the butterflies via an app]