The Ontario Science Centre held its second Tech Art Fair on the family day weekend from 16 – 18 February 16-18. 20 artists were selected through a juried competition to exhibit their work at the Ontario Science Centre that mixed science with art, and technology.
HotPopRobot family team was selected to present their latest work over the 3 days. We demonstrated two of our latest projects – Deep Space Musical (NASA Global SpaceApps Finalist) and Make A Robot Smile (MARS) Bot.
The Deep Space Musical project takes images from the Hubble Space Telescope and turns them into music. All images are made of pixels. Our project used a python programme to convert the brightness and colors of the pixels into numbers. These numbers were mapped with different musical notes.
Higher the numbers, higher the pitch. Some of the iconic Hubble Images we used were Pillars of Creation (Eagle Nebula), Hubble Ultra Deep Field, SuperNova 1987A, Sombrero Galaxy, Spirograph Nebula and of Saturn. Taking a range of images meant different music was generated and visitors were able to appreciate the beauty of the Universe.
The Make A Robot Smile (MARS) Bot was our homemade robot powered by Artificial Intelligence and constructed from leftover Ikea shelves, old toys, servos, light strips, and Arduino. It made different movements depending on the facial expression of the visitors detected by the Robot. When a visitor made a happy face, the Robot turned its smiling face towards the visitor and lifted both its arms. When the visitor showed an Angry or a Sad face, it turned to a sad face, lifted its arm and pointed at him/her. When the visitor made a Suprised face, both the arms went up.
The MARS Bot facial expression detection was programmed using Tensor Flow, Python, Arduino and OpenCV. It was our first robotic project that used Artificial Intelligence as its core. The complexity of the project was in training it well to detect a range of facial expressions and converting them to robotic movements.
The Tech Art Fair 2019 was very well attended. Over 15,000 visitors passed through the 3 days and we had big crowds in front of our exhibits. Everyone had fun playing with our Artificial Intelligence Bot by making different facial expressions such as happy, sad, angry and surprised. Our Robot recorded several thousand expressions on the last day itself which will be used to improve the Bot algorithm further.
There were lots of questions about both our projects from kids and their parents. Many of the questions were on how these projects worked and how long it took us to make them. Other questions were related to where we picked up making and coding skills. We were happy to answer these questions and explain to them about our maker journey. We started with making small projects in different hackathons and then moved on developing programming skills and creating more complex projects merging robotics, space, science, and arts.
In the last 5 years, we have ended up making almost 30 projects that have been displayed in different venues. In 2017 too, we participated in the Tech Art Fair at the Ontario Science Centre. We enjoy exhibiting our projects here at the Centre as it offers a very educational yet fun environment. It attracts kids, youths, and parents who have an interest in science and are eager to meet up with others to learn more from them.
We enjoyed seeing projects put up by other Artists and talking to them.
We plan to be back next year again with more projects and ideas!