Turn on: Plushie “Big Head” project

My interest for this project began with exploring how touch can bring so many emotions and physical reactions. I see my Plushie in a child abuse center, were this might be a prop to mediate a conversation about abuse. I also see this plushie as a prop for sex education and seeing how touch can cause arousal in the sex organs, which can include the brain. This plushie is activated by pressing on the right hand, which activates a LED light near its “private parts”. Ideally I would like to place LED lights in its head, and/or heart that would light up when you hold its hand. Another idea was to have it activate it’s heart, when you kissed it.

I began with a reference plushie that I have been working for some years.


I continued with the firewalker code and with the help of my colleague Jung I was able to get this code to work. After I tested the prototype circuit, I was ready to make my plushie. The plushie is made out of Green and blue knit, Flora board, Velostat, LED, and wire.

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After several attempts, I was unable to get the plushie to work with the battery pack. The only way it would stay on and activate the LED would be if I had it plugged into my computer. I decided to continue the plushie and tested on a male and a female volunteer.

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In these two cases I had the volunteers touched the plushie on its right hand, in order to activate the LED.

I had different responses, the most interesting coming from the female which asked “why it light up there?” Her expression was of distaste or hesitance, however she was a great volunteer and continued with the process.

What I learned is that touch and how it’s given is very significant in generating emotions. The location of the light was deliberate but I did not expect the various reactions to its placement. They ranged from humor to discuss of the location of the light. I also learned that placement of the “squeeze” is very important, and that my placement of it didn’t correlate my message.

I would like to experiment with different locations of the LED and there intensity. I would also like to place the activation point in different locations and see how individuals reacted.

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