Zekun’s final project- Living Pixels

Seeing smart home products being more common in our lives, I’ve started to think about the relationship between people and these products. If one day, smart home products become an indispensable part of everyone’s life, what attitudes should we take to coexist with them? How are we going to treat them?

We like to call smart home products with a human name, like Alexa. It seems that we are trying to see them as individuals with intelligence. But are we treating them that way? If electrical appliances really have life, will we treat them differently?

So I made this LED matrix that comes to life when people leave the room.

For future iteration, I would like to imagine more ways for a person to interact with Living Pixels, for example, what if it can recognize a person’s facial expression and react to people’s mood or being influenced by how a person is treating it. I also would like to think of different ways for Living Pixels to express it’s emotion than animation.


Zekun’s final project preparation

1. prototype circuit

I’ve been searching for materials that I can refer to for the LED matrix.





This matrix will have different modes, sleepy, excited, and angry, but I’m not sure how to trigger each emotion.

2. Form Development

Most of the small-size LED matrixes are diffused in square shapes, but I like the effect of the picture below. So I’m also considering using a circular grid.

3. storyboard

one shot of all materials needed

assembling process (or something like an exploded view)

testing and adjusting with it hanging on the wall

a person walking by it and walking out of the frame with the pixels showing a image changes to pixels randomly blinking

a montage of the sky changing from day to night with the pixels from sleepy( light color, blinking slowing) to excited (bright color constantly blinking and changing color) and to sleepy.

4. Instructables


IoT Exercise 2 & final project update

PIR sensor
Lighting LEDs

I’ve read through all examples and tried most of them, I didn’t make the last one in lesson 5 and the one in lesson 6.

Materials for final projectLinks
16 *16 pixels LED screenhttps://m.tb.cn/h.4WtfANM?sm=ef860f
PIR sensor HC-SR501https://m.tb.cn/h.4eg7yb3?sm=475c53
Extra battery3.7V 2000mAh

Zekun’s IoT exercises and brainstorming

All of my concepts start with one simple idea, what if products have life? I been collecting the image of this kind of fun product that accidentally looks alive. And they makes me wonder what if products are alive, how will they act? 

The first concept is a LED light made by NeoPixel LEDs, the light will show normally when there are people in the room, and the pixels will scattered or light up randomly like they are chilling and talking to each other when people are absent.

The second concept is a clock that “fall asleep” after working for 10 minutes, and you have to wake it up by shaking it.

The third concept is an angry alarm clock that goes crazy when you ignore it. (vibrating, showing random number and shaking if possible)

Zekun’s Halloween Costume

I want to design such a headpiece because I want to find a way to include my night light as a part of my Halloween costume. Therefore, I decided to make this headpiece for psychics. The LEDs on the headpiece is gradually shifting from pink to green to match my crystal ball’s iridescence. And the NeoPiexl Jewel have a rainbow-color gradient.

One thing I would do differently if I had to do it again is that I will change the color of the NeoPixel Jewel. The color of the NeoPixel Jewel and that of the pixels are not matching very well and can be improved.

Shopping list

Chain: https://m.tb.cn/h.41T24k3?sm=fc5765 

NeoPixel Jewel: https://m.tb.cn/h.4b2IeOK?sm=b3e054

NeoPixels: https://m.tb.cn/h.41TehmL?sm=328402

Wires: https://m.tb.cn/h.4d4CgaD?sm=e50617

Circuit and code


In-progress images

Zekun’s Halloween Costume

This week I tried to finish making the headpiece so I can focus on the codes next week. I made the base of it first. Then I tried to find out how to attach the LEDs to the base. At first, I tried to braid the electric wire with the chain. Because the electric wire is too stiff when I try to tie the wires with the metal chains, the base( metal chains) will lose its original shape. I also thought about using glue or tape to tie them together, but I gave up that idea because it will not look clean.

Then I found this online, and it inspired me to add an extra electric wire without attaching it to metal chains.


This is the sample code I found. This code didn’t work very well with my circuit, but I made some adjustments.


This tinkercad circuit I made based on that code, it now has a gradient from pink to green.

Zekun’s Halloween Costume

I want to design such a headpiece because my crystal ball nightlight can fit in the Halloween context very well. I want to find a way to include it as a part of my Halloween costume. Therefore, I decided to make this headpiece for psychics. I want the LEDs on the headpiece to gradually shift from pink to green to match my crystal ball’s iridescence. And the NeoPiexl Jewel will have a different lighting effect than NeoPixels, but I haven’t decided what will be.

psychic’s headpiece

Shopping list

Chain: https://m.tb.cn/h.41T24k3?sm=fc5765

NeoPixel Jewel: https://m.tb.cn/h.4b2IeOK?sm=b3e054

NeoPixels: https://m.tb.cn/h.41TehmL?sm=328402


I find this introduction to NeoPixel Jewels


And I tried to combine this code with what we did last week in this tinkercad program.


Zekun’s NeoPixels and Halloween Proposals

random green light https://www.tinkercad.com/things/9BclzC3C63X
idea 1
idea 2&3

Since my crystal ball push night light already have a Halloween feeling, I decided to make my costume base on it. 

1.LED wings; LED headpiece; LED jewelry

material list: wire, rgb LEDs

2. Psychic & crow

material list: fake crow; red+black paper; wire; rgbLEDs

3. Psychic in veil

material list: dark color chiffon; LEDs

Crystal ball night light

This push night light was made in the shape of a crystal ball.  I choose to make such a night light because I thought it would be fun to see how a crystal ball light up, and to see how light diffuse inside that ball. I want this night light to bring its user a feeling of mystery.

For material, I used iridescent chiffon and a piece of grey fabric. I also used chiffon in the inside of the ball. I used poly-fill to fill the inside of the base. Four LEDs were used in it with a 3.7V Li-battery.

During making this night light, I tried different filling material and find out that chiffon itself works the best in delivering the mysterious feeling I want. During making, I found that it is tough to saw a perfect ball, and using chiffon made it more challenging as it is very easy to ladder. If I had more time to work on this project, I would make that ball again.

with poly-fill

Zekun’s Plush Night Light Proposal


At first, I was thinking about designing a geometric-shaped paper night light, after talking with Becky, I decided to also do some exploration with fabric. So I decided to make a organic-shape night light. I didn’t  make a pattern first, because I want to have the freedom to explore with it’s shape, and randomly sawing fabric together to give it volume. After making a prototype, I find out it is very hard for beginners to make one elegant organic-shape with fabric and it is even harder to recreate it. This prototype failed because it can not deliver the shape I want to make and because the way it was sawed, it didn’t look very finished. So I switched to this two ideas. I decided to used the crystal-ball idea as it is more fun and it can be very interesting to see how different color lights pass through polyfill.

organic-shape night light
ideation sketch

Parts and Materials

shell- organdy


filling-cotton/ polyfill