Visualizing shared mindfulness and creation.

Interaction Designer
Feb. 16 – present
Solo Project
Physical Interaction

Project Overview

Heart.h is a dream-like “rock” garden with gently diffused LED lights and a mindfulness script to guide people through different textural and emotional reflections.

When interacting with others at a traditional hearth, members of a community come together to find solidarity and reflect on their experiences. My goal was to create a physical interaction that represents the heart of a shared space, while also cultivating a sense of wonder and reflection.

My Role

My focus was on realizing an idea from sketch to physical prototype, including programming, physical design, and interaction design. I created a physical prototype of my idea using the Arduino UNO board, then programmed the RFID scanner and AdaFruit NeoPixel LED strip using existing libraries.

Heart.h Main Interactions

Interactive Elements
Each object in the box has an RFID sticker on the base. When the sticker is tapped inside the white circle on the box, a corresponding light turns on in a preset color.

When the gray cube (combine) is tapped, the RGB values of the scanned objects is averaged, and the hearth is illuminated with that unique color.
Design Process

How can I encourage curiosity and mindfulness?

I had several criteria for this interaction: I wanted it to support individual or group exploration, include a guided mindfulness aspect, and reflect user interaction through a light-based output. Inspired by rock gardens, cloud-like installations, and digital fireplaces, I sought to create a small-scale interaction that can be integrated into the home.

01/ Ideate
Sketching out ideas for the physical input system
02/ Prototype
Building the experience with hardware and software
03/ Iterate
Polishing the look and feel
04/ Evaluate
Usability testing with participants
1 / Ideate

What do I want the interaction to look like?

2 / Prototype

From Sketch to Hardware and Software

The main interaction allows users to scan one RFID sticker and have one corresponding LED light turn on in a pre-set color. I also wanted to make a “clear” object, which turns off all the lights and resets the exhibit.

Using the Arduino Uno R3, RFID scanner module, and Adafruit NeoPixel (20 LED lights), I created Tinkercad sketches to envision the system functionality.

I used this video tutorial to assign unique RGB values to the RFID stickers. Then, I used the Adafruit NeoPixel Überguide to assign each sticker to turn on one light on the LED strip, creating the first proof of concept shown below.
3 / Iterate

Polishing the Look and Feel

To make the system more compact, I moved the RFID scanner to a mini bread board and directly plugged in the light strip to the board. While it doesn’t adhere to the recommended guidelines, my LED light strip only has 20 lights, so it doesn’t require resistors.

Software Changes
I added in the code to “combine” colors, so that when a specific object is scanned, all the RGB values are averaged into one color, and the entire LED strip turns on. This feature is a visual representation of shared creation, since each person's scanned object contributes to the unique light color.  
There is a subtle flickering effect when the “combine” object is scanned, to emphasize the hearth aspect.
4 / Evaluate

Usability Testing the Final Experience

My first usability test led to the solidification of ambiguous shapes over other shapes: participants much preferred these over the star or heart shapes, which are generally associated with colors (e.g., yellow, pink). I also got feedback on how to diffuse the lighting using polyester fiberfill, which I layered on top of the light strip in the box. Finally, I added an optional guided mindfulness exercise for individuals or groups.

The following photos are of people interacting with the exhibit with minimal guidance. Overall, participants found themselves "immersed into the exhibit” and said it was "relaxing, a great opportunity to be in the moment".  


I had no experience with programming in C++ or building hardware interactions, so this project was a great learning experience for me. I gained new skills in programming and troubleshooting, and I learned how to describe my design ideas to programmers who helped with my code.

Overall, I had a lot of fun creating an exhibit that combines elements from color psychology, mindfulness, and shared physical interactions. I’ll continue working on this piece, and I hope to create more works that bring people together and enhance mindful connections with ourselves and other people.

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