Every year, The California Academy of Sciences hold a Nightlife event taken over by graduate students of the California College of the Arts. Students are encouraged to build interactive exhibit pieces combining science and design, to be featured in the after hours event. Together with Sam Hobish and Xiao Yin, our team developed SHXYKI a prototype machine that levitates 10 ping-pong in the air and lets the user physically control each ball to form shapes and figures using a control panel - or at least that was what the machine was meant to do! 



Both Sam and Xiao are very talented craftsmen and designers. They handled a lot of the machine development and prototyping for the project. I was tasked with designing the brand and feel of the machine plus the additional visual effects there after, once we got SHXYKI running - lights and projections. Admittedly, challenges came along the way as we went through the build. We were able to manufacture all the necessary hardware to get balls up in the air but problems arose with getting the control panel to work as originally planned. Come exhibition day, we decided to simplify the machine by letting users physically manipulate the balls using their hands and by using randomized programming for the fans.



We were admittedly a little nervous about the reception of our exhibit piece but surprisingly, it brought in a lot of people curious of our machine that made ping-pong balls fly in the air! By the end of the night we had groups of people working together to see how many balls they could keep up in the air plus it made for some pretty Instagram worthy pictures. It's always a pleasant surprise how people will naturally interact with designs you present as long as you leave it open for play!


Props to Sam and Azure! We had a whole lot of fun with this build and this was definitely one of the projects I will never forget in CCA!