Way back in 2010 I was working on “The Hug Meter” for Burning Man. I made some progress, eventually ended up with nice LCD display that let me view the waveform from the sensor. Using touch, I could select different modes and adjust parameters to tune the behavior.
However, I never could find a way to consistently gauge the size of a crowd using the data I was getting from the sensor. While trying to find a solution for this, I hit upon the idea of building a platform with load cells: Essentially a giant scale. But the weight to meter level association would have been way to obvious, taking some of the fun out of things.
I then started thinking about a different kind of display and interaction. Something that would work well with the platform. I realized that by using multiple load cells I could determine the “balance”, which way they were leaning, of the person or people on the platform. I could use that input to drive the el-wire. Eventually I worked out how I could do something like this:
That is a circle of 24 10′ long fiberglass rods wrapped with two different colors of el-wire. With an eight channel sequencer, I could light up in the direction of the lean with one color and use the other color to indicate where everyone should lean. I would try to make it a little interactive game.
The fiberglass rods are stuck into pipes driven into the playa at a slight angle. A cloth skirt would allow the rods through while the pipes remain safely under the platform.
So far I’ve got some of the rods built. The one on the right is a prototype. The one on the left is the first one built using the large lot of el-wire I got.
However, I’m not sure I’m going to get it all finished in time. I’m also thinking that I may want to take just few rods this year to see how they do in the wind. They are 1/2″ fiberglass, but I’m concerned they may whip around dangerously.