Conducting energy through people to stimulate tangible public interactions

What did we do?

We put together an Arduino, some wire, a Mac mini and a DLP Projector, then created a pair of hands out of aluminum. We additionally 3D printed some wall plates that resemble light switch plates, but instead of holding an on/off switch they are precision matched to the hands that we created on the waterjet at TechShop SF.  The hands activate a projected display with intriguing colors.  However, they could have many other uses.

Why did we do it?

This was an idea that bubbled up in the pitch night for UPSF.   Tosh Chiang introduced this idea to the audience and the rest of us just couldn't help it, either because we loved the idea or we wanted to hold hands with Tosh.  It's hard to say, but we all ended up at the table and in one fabulous weekend fabricated the 1.0 version of what you're undoubtedly going to improve upon when you bring this to your town.

Why do you want to do it?

We believe that this project can activate "dead" city spaces.  Imagine starting a public fountain, municipal artwork, or other public energy-consuming installation by holding hands!  Also, we like sending electricity through people.  

Electrocution, really?

No, well, kinda!  We send 5 volts from the Arduino to the hands.  When two or more bodies complete the circuit, electrons flow through the bodies and are then received by the Arduino.  The Analog to Digital Conversion of the Arduino then measures the flow against 1 volt and outputs a data stream.  This figure varies depending on the quality of hand holding, as well as the conductivity of the individual(s). Processing then compares the data and outputs a graphical, aesthetic display, based on threshold values within the code.

So, really, why?

The technology behind this project is very simple, but the social outcome is nuanced and complex.  Is it odd to hold hands with a friend or stranger?  How will that experience create memories or even trigger communities?  Does it make the moment more tangible?  On top of this, there are no moving parts to the interface; there are no buttons to break.  So long as the unit is powered, it will work!  

Who are We?

We met at the UP makeathon.  This project was conceived in a night, and fully executed 48 hours later! http://sf.urbanprototyping.org/projects/i-just-wanna-hold-your-hand/

Yael Braha: Hand Holder + Processing Hacker + Visual Designer http://www.yaelbraha.com/

Tosh Chiang: Hand Holder + Arduino Hacker + Concept http://www.imlichenit.com/imlichenit

Melody Donoso: Hand Holder + Visual Design

Ellen Keith: Hand Holder + Visual Design http://ellenkeith.com/

Jasdeep Garcha: Hand Holder + Sound Engineer + Programmer http://www.iamjasdeep.com/

Marc Roth: Hand Holder + Fabricator https://twitter.com/TheITSystem


Step 1: Bill of Materials

1) Arduino (any board will do, we had a MEGA)
2) Computer (we used a mac mini)
3) Projector
4) Small PC speaker (ours came from a street fighter 2 arcade!)

1) Processing
2) Arduino Compiler
3) FTDI drivers (just in case)

1)  An Aluminum Sheet, or other conductive metal.
2)  20-50 feet of 18AWG wire
3)  Double-sided tape
4)  A 4"x6" project box (not necessary, but it keeps it neat!)
5)  Zener Diode x2
6)  20K resistor x2
7) Breadboard

1)  Water-Jet Cutter
2)  3D printer 

1)  Precision screwdriver
2)  Wire strippers
3)  Wire Cutters
4)  Scissors

I bow to your brilliance. Please tell me there will be a public installation soon! <br>
Wow... It's amazing what brilliant ideas you bring to life!
Brilliant! I love projects that go quickly and turn out awesome! Great job!
Cool! Mind if i might one day use your first pic for web design backgrouds some day?
go for it! All Urban Prototype projects are 100% open source!--just remember to credit the project :)
What a great way to get people involved with each other.
woa what a super cool idea!