Memory Tree is a tangible interactive family tree to foster a feeling of connectedness for long-distance families. This project was declared the winner at the Hack-GT Art+Tech Make-a-thon, held in April, 2019.
We’re all international students, homesick and looking for ways to connect with our families in different time zones. The inspiration came from the stories our grandparents told us, and how we’d like to connect with them.
What it does
Memory tree is a home accent that lives on your wall, or next to your TV, that helps you interact with the content created by your family members, and gives you ambient notifications when someone from your family is thinking of you.
How we built it
We laser cut the form of the tree in the likeness of the big banyan trees under which people gather in villages in rural India to exchange stories. The tree lies on the backdrop of a fabric, which is reminiscent of wheat and paddy fields. Each leaf represents a member of your family, and tapping on each pulls up their collated content. We created circuits using conductive paint on the back of foam core, and connected LEDs with Arduino to create the gently pulsating ambient notifications.
Challenges we ran into
Time. We were hard pressed to finish what we set out to accomplish, since the project we initially had scoped out would have taken twice the amount of time. Apart from time, there were many little challenges that we faced - starting from brainstorming to ideation, laser cutter not working, not able to go according to the plan and making small pivots along the way!
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We finished it! Learned how to manually saw through wood, laser cut, and create something from limited resources and constraints. We also successfully scoped the project to finish just in the nick of time. The best part of the project was hearing from others about how they can relate to the project (and buy it if it was available) and seeing them get excited as we presented!
What I learned
How to bring our best forward in the team, how to step up when the team needed us to step up, and supporting each other's opinions and ideas (while having healthy arguments). I worked on the physical prototyping of the concept. I learnt a lot about using the right kind of illustration for laser cutting, using the open-source vector software 'Inkscape', and the intricacies of working the wood, laser cutting it and putting it together to look like an art installation.
What's next for Memory tree
Possibly a product launch later this year? We'll keep you posted!