The Balance Challenge

Project Video


The Balance Challenge from Ariana Vassilopoulou on Vimeo.

Team Members

Ariana Vassilopoulou

Jesal Trivedi


Develop an interactive experience using both the Arduino and p5.

Project Brief

The Balance Challenge is a game where the user uses a board which they must balance on to move their player on the screen from left to right in order to avoid square objects falling from the top of the screen. The user accumulates points based on how long they avoid hitting any of the square objects.

Items Used

  • Arduino Uno
  • AdXC 335 Accelerometer
  • Breadboard
  • Wires
  • 3/4″ Canadian birch wood
  • 1′ Canadian birch wood
  • 6″x6″ wood enclosure
  • Gorilla Tape
  • 5.75″x”5.75″ black acrylic (3mm thick)
  • USB 2 Cable
  • 4 2″ screws
  • p5
  • C++ (Arduino)

Tools Used

  • CNC Routing Machine
  • Drill Press
  • Sanding sheets
  • Power Drill
  • VectorWorks
  • Laser Printer
  • Macbook Pro Laptop


We plotted out the timeline in which to reach certain milestones by in order to get the project finished in the given amount of time (14 days). We began the brainstorming process and developed many ideas. We then decided on the balance board game (we we eventually titled ‘The Balance Challenge‘) based on the time constraints we had.


We began with coding out the game in p5 first. Once we finished about 95% of the p5 coding, we moved onward to figure out the accelerometer sensor and building a “quick n’ dirty” balance board.

We determined that we only needed one output (direction) from the accelerometer (the y-axis), as the board only needed to tilt tilt in two, opposite but equal directions. We determined the raw values after connecting the prototype board and seeing what the min and max values we were seeing in the serial monitor. The cardboard was too flimsy, so we got wood to help provide us with more accurate figures. We then mapped the raw data from 0-2, with 1 being the ‘Middle’, 0 being ‘Left’ and 2 being ‘Right’.

Once we had the data properly being displayed in the Serial Monitor, we then connected both p5 and Arduino together using Serial Port. We kept running into processing issues, but we able to resolve that by delaying the data being received.

After everything technically worked, we began the process of building the actual balance board. We got the lumber from a wood outlet in the city and began cutting and drilling away. The board is made from just three pieces, help together with super strong wood glue and reinforced with screws.

We then tested it out with a few of our classmates to get their feedback on the sensitivity of the motion and made some adjustments to the responsiveness.

We then attached the enclosure to the top, taser etched the name on the acrylic and finished up the board.

Things We Would Have Done Differently

Some of the things we would have done differently. If we had a bit more time, we would have added pads to have more friction with the users shoes. We also would have varied the sensitivity based on the angle the board was tilted. For example, the player on the screen would only move in a direction directly proportional to the level of tilt the user was applying on the board. Another consideration was the the board seems to move slightly forwards and backwards because of the user. If there was a way to keep the board in one place, that would be ideal for the gameplay.


Check out our code on GitHub!


A BIG thank you to the amazing students and residents at NYU ITP that provided guidance and help throughout the course of the project in both the workshop and in the code. This project would not have happened without you. 

Can I Have Yo Numba? – Designing My Business Card

I started to play with my initials with my name and couldn’t find an arrangements that looked good to me.


I then realized that I had an obsession of dragons, as I was born in the year of the dragon. So I got started..


PROBLEM: This was WAY too extreme, more like a logo for a dark metal band than for a personal logo.


I then wanted to take a softer approach with the approach and use the ‘J’ in my name at the front of the neck of the dragon. But it’s a complex logo and I needed to simplify it…



I then tried to simplify it further by making it one unit but decided that  didn’t want to go down this route. I lost the character of the object.


I then returned to the head of the dragon from before and varied the colors. Once I found something I liked, I moved on to designing the card..

black-option-2-back black-option-1-back yellow-option-back yellow-option-front black-option-front grey-option-front


Winter Showcase Poster Design

In this poster design for the ITP Winter Showcase, I wanted to show how technology and culture can be intertwined at ITP. Every student’s country currently at ITP is represented in this design, and each country’s flag is linked at some point with each other, to represent how connected we are in such a diverse program. This is also to show the more human side of ITP, mixed together with all the new technology and systems we are also immersed with here.

Conceptualizing, Sketching and Testing Ideas

Learning how to brainstorm properly can exponentially increase your ability to develop something truly fantastic and impactful. Think of this “brainstorming” as a muscle , which you have to run through the paces and make stronger through deliberate practice. I love brainstorming and have actually implemented it into my morning routine, where I create a design concept based on either news or something I’ve been thinking of. I then list out 10 ideas that could solve a particular issue I’m facing or a certain theme, for example “VR/AR Ideas”.


The book Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook gave me even more methods and ways to improve my brainstorming concepts.

I remember in the first class, we has to describe our favorite tools, and mine was my Moleskine and Pen, and have kept these two by my side wherever I go. I can relate a lot to this book. One thing I’d liek to start doing is creating a collection of physical objects that inspire me.

Actually, reading this book gave me a few ideas on the spot that I used their methods to ‘scribble sketch’ them out into my sketchbook.


Tom Igoe’s post on Making Interactive Art discussed an important point about when you have created an interactive piece of art, you should not ‘influence’ how the user should use it. Leave it to them to figure out. If it’s designed properly, the user should be able to figure out quite quickly how it is supposed to function, relying only on feedback loops. This reminds me of Steve Blank’s entrepreneurship concept of ‘Customer Development’. This process is to assess the viability of a particular business idea. Once your idea has conceptualized, and you have listed out your assumptions of your ideal customer, you develop a list of questions and begin to interview people that match that ‘ideal’ as closely as possible. It’s VERY important that you are not asking questions that lead them to answers that reinforce your assumptions. Rather, you want to leave it fairly open ended and have the potential user to discuss their way through frustrations with current products or services, as you might discover an issue with your original idea or find an entirely new problem that you’d want to solve.





Compliation Day: Digital and Physical Become One

This day did it for me. Melding the worlds of physical and digital was an awesome experience and something I have been looking forward to all semester. My partner and I both worked on our own mini-projects, which simultaneously helping each other figure out how to make everything work properly in p5. Below I have documented what I made that day.

Control RGB Values of a Particle System

Using 3 potentiometers, I connected each one to their own analog pins. I then fed the sensor values from Arduino into p5 and organized the data appropriately (with the help of Craig, Dan, and Kat) to effectively change each value properly (R, G, B) and have it relay that change immediately on the screen. I have posted the code here:


I want state that there was a delay, probably caused by the two sides communicating via the serial port that slowed down the processing of information. What this looked like was me turning the knobs and it changing colors after 15-20 seconds, which is not ideal.

Compilation Day: RGB value knobs from Jesal Trivedi on Vimeo.

PComp – Analog and Digital Inputs and Outputs

I wanted to take another stab at developing simple device using a photocell, a servo and some simple prototype materials found in the Lab. My concept was a expandable umbrella that opened when the photocell detected light.

I then worked on the arduino code to make sure everything was reading and writing correctly. Once that was in proper working order, I began to create the umbrella..

I thought I had thought of most of the major potential functional issues at the beginning. Only when I started to build the actual umbrella components, which were no more than paper folded into chinese fans, did i know I was not thinking about the axis of rotation properly. 
In theory and in code the concept works. I will have to revsisit the physical “device” next week, hopefully being able to incorporate P5 into the concept as well, with a web interface.

Credit to Druv in the workshop and Joe Mango for lending me their time and energy to helping me get the concept to where it is currently.

In Living Color

Colors influence our visual perceptions of things all around us. How can they affect our moods, emotions, and motivations, as we go throughout our day? I wanted to see how colors influenced my emotions over a 3-day period. I attempted to take one photo every hour on the hour (for 12 hours per day) to produce a collage of 36 photos.


From these photos, I applied a blurred, mosaic effect to quick uncover the images underlying colors.

I then extracted the dominant color from each photo (shown below).

Things I learned from this experiment:

  1. It’s hard to stay consistent
  2. I spend way too much time in front of the computer
  3. I have a lot of brown and gray in my life