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Innovative Bots
Data that flows like the sands
Truly, this is Zen

Project_Zen is a interactive experiment in bridging physical gaps in creative ways. Like all such great experiments, it was born when it's creators were joking discussing terrible and useless ideas for hackathon projects.

Project_Zen consists of several main parts, the sum of which is the remote management of a physical Zen garden.


Our hardware consits of a common wooden frame, propped up by water bottles since we had a lot of them, they were just the right height, and when filled provided a good amount of weight. The rake is driven by two sets of motors and tracks ripped out of some printers we got at a thrift store, providing x and y motion. The rake can also be rotated via a servo, but unfortunately we didn't have time to implement this in software.

Technologies Used

  • JavaScript
    • Meteor (Node.js), LeapJS
  • Arduino
  • FFmpeg
    • FFserver

Video Feedback

The first part of remotely managing a Zen garden is being able to actually look at it. To accomplish this, we used ffmpeg and ffserver to create a WebM stream that could be easily embedded into a webpage. The files for this section are in ./webcam.

Leap Motion Interface

A Leap Motion is used to interact with the garden. By moving a pen or similar tool up, down, left and right, the rake will move in the corresponding direction. This part is located in ./leapmotion_serial, and also contains the serial interface code.

Arduino Controller

This project uses an Arduino Uno to drive the motors. You can see the code in ./robot.