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Fall 2021 ︎︎︎ SUNY Purchase ︎︎︎ (DES3090) Interactive & Experience Design

Action at a Distance


Think of this project as a “practical openbook exam” for using the Circuit Playground Express. Or a recital. The goal here is to effect something outside the CPX; another CPX, a computer, a person, etc.

“Spooky action at a distance” is a whole other quantum mechanics thing that this project is not about in any explicity way, it just sounds cool tbh.


    • Demonstrate competence with coding the Circuit Python Express in Python.
    • Demonstrate competence in converting multiple examples in a meaningful original idea.

Final submission

    • Any .PY files containing (thoroughly commented) code for your project. If your project contains multiple files, provide some documentation or diagramming of what code goes where or on what device.
    • A video documenting your project working as intended. 
    • Still photograph(s) of the above. 


  • Your project must take input (button press, shaking, waving, screaming, etc.) from a CPX and transfer it to another source (another CPX, a computer, etc.). There’s no need to be fancy here
  • Your code should work during show and tell/critique. If it does not, we’ll take time to troubleshoot it at the end (as a class) and you will make sure it works when documented and in class the following week.
  • Your code must be original. If you copy or adapt code from another source (which is fine) please cite the source in your comments and attribute and link to it in some way.

No Shuriken Mode Challenges

(Please note that, doing these do not guarantee a better grade or extra credit by any fixed or demonstrable amount, but if you’re doing or approaching these things, you’re probably doing well. The point is that, like not using shurikens in Shadow Dancer, it is more difficult, and increases your proximity to the material. All this being said don’t hurt  yourself and consider your other assignments and mental and physical health. Additionally, if you are not feeling challenged by the class or an assignment, and these suggestions are not sufficient for you, please le me know.)
    • Create a “laser tag”-like experience with multiple CPX’s and give other people the code to program their respective CPX’s as a the “gun” and “receiver” and stage a tournament.
    • A multi-CPX based glass harmonium type instrument.
    • Use the CPX’s accelerometer + the CPX as a USB mouse to control a game on screen of your own design.

Grading Rubric

    • 25% ︎︎︎“Readability” of code ︎︎︎
      This is both to say the structure of your code and how you provide clarity and explanation through comments (not sure if this is something you can have “too much” of).

    • 25% ︎︎︎Thoughtfullness and clarity of concept ︎︎︎
    • This is a combination of how you justify your piece in critique, how you defend it, as well as how your documentation makes your piece clear, or clearer.

    • 25% ︎︎︎Execution of piece ︎︎︎
    • Did the piece work? How did you approach the piece not working if it didn’t work properly? Did you have to adapt or simplify or change a more complex idea to work within your ability or means? If you had to construct anything (digital or physical) how successful was the craft? 

    • 25% ︎︎︎Development of practice ︎︎ 
      Again the purpose of the class and this project is not to master programming but how you approach this new knowledge, and what you do with it (regardless of the complexity).


    • A place for ideas.This page has a good deal of sample projects with the CPX.
    • Code can be fun. Don’t hesitate to use funny variable names or provide levity in your comments.
    • Artifice. Consider how you might disguise, cloak or otherwise “dress up” your Circuit Python Express. Is it in a cardboard box? Under a hankerchief? Connected to a small tripod via a plastic enclosure?
    • Location. How does the location change your piece? Could it be creepily changing light patterns in the corner of a darkened room? Is it under a desk? Does it play a sound from within a locker? 
    • Complexity. This is not important. Consider an elegant or simplistic idea that is thoughtfully executed or arrived at through trying multiple ideas.
    • Originality. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel here. Start with combining different examples that might have different aspects of the CPX you want to work with. Also you could perhaps use the same methodology but with a different underlying concept.
    • Time. This is mainly for production. Consider how long it will take to make things and give yourself more time than you think you might need.
    • Money. It is not important for your piece to be expensive but how could you spend money or materials to give your piece better “production value.”
    • Source of the input. What does it mean if your mother is the one who pushes the button? Your lover or partner? Does the piece feel different on a Windows PC versus a Mac Book Air? Can your piece help someone who is hard of hearing or with a different level of abledness?
    • Literal-ness. I’m cool with something that might not totally satisfy the terms of the assignment if the idea is interesting.

Relevant Dates

(please note this schedule is subject to change depending how the coding stuff goes)
    • 09/09/2021 ︎︎︎Introduction!

    • 09/23/2021 ︎︎︎Check-in
    • 10/07/2021 ︎︎︎ Check-in
    • 10/14/2021︎︎︎Show & Tell

    • For this we’ll look at each piece and then talk about them as a group together. This is essentially the critique. Three people will be selected to write (and design) responses. Due to the nature of the project we can do possible “tech talks” or “triaging” of pieces that aren’t working.
    • 10/21/2021︎︎︎Response Readings & Possible re-staging of pieces

      We’ll review the more thorough written responses and talk about how that relates to the group experience. Additionally if your piece “failed” in some way, or it was amended since the previous week you can show it this day.