Project Brief

Sense-Cloud was designed to elevate users to an multi-sensorial experience. This included triggering the primary senses of Sight, Touch, Smell and Hearing. An instagram post by CalAcademy calling out or installation from that night!

My Role

Structural Design, Construction and Electronics Programming(Arduino)


3 Weeks.

Intended Audience

People attending the monthly Thursday - After Dark event at the Cal-Academy.


We were to create an interactive experience for people visiting Nightlife, an after-dark event in the California Academy of Sciences. There were constraints of scale and installation.

The concept started from the fog in San Francisco and how it would feel like to walk through fog. We testd it with user under similar conditions of intoxication which we anticipated would be the case in the event. The testing phase gave us important lessons of material and the kind of scents people would love/hate.

Once we laid out he plan for the physical installation, it was the part of tap the sense of sight by making the project interactive. We used bend-sensors and distance sensors at the bottom of the installation to trigger a lighting patter which would constantly change as people walked through it.

Just being at the event was a great feeling, watching people go crazy with my creation!

Discovery Phase

Used methods of Re-creating Scenarios, Low-fi Prototyping and Materialirt research to discover the right medium to interact with the attendees.


Siyao Zhu - Testing with different Materials

Testing for the right Fabric+Tech

Testing the electronics of a flex sensor hooked up to an Arduino.

Recreating the Night

User testing by re-creating the scenario of the event. We tried blocking the sides with the first prototype.

Iterations Phase

By Building structures, Electronic Prototyping and Arduino programming we could explore the various options to bring our ideas to life.


Siyao Zhu - Materials Exploration

Building the Components

Building the framework that would hold our installation.
Picking the right material and color to provide the envisioned visual aura.
Getting the electronics right before installing it on the framework.
The gradation in height to encourage users of various height participate with our Installation.
Messing with the wires.

Creation Phase

We had to Build On-site and have Additional information about the Experiences using visual design and branding exercises.


Siyao Zhu - Branding and Visual Design

Installation at Cal Academy

Installation at site, The California Academy of Sciences.
Our height gradient working its magic here. That awesome feeling of watching your research coming to life.
People spending some quality time in the Cloud :P

Project Impact

The project was taken up as my first Interactive exhibit and having to do that at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco gave our team to present our work with the best of artists and scientifically knowledgeable participants.

  • To understand the crowd and the context in which they would interact with the installation.
  • Interpreting the brief of "Fab Lab" and scoping our project to meet the guidelines.
  • Selecting a technology that is comfortable for the users to interact with and not immediately obvious.
  • I learned how to re-create anticipated user context to best test our concepts during iteration phase.
  • Maintaining the balance between digital and analog interactions for the user to stay engaged at multiple levels.