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Personal Space

2017, Data Visualization, p5, Physical Computing

Background & Objectives


How much personal space do the urban population have every day? How much personal do I need?


I moved to New York couple of months ago. While I am used to living in a densely populated area, commuting for an hour is new to me. I thought I would be okay with not having any personal space, but when I broke my earphones and was stripped from the usual musical distraction, I found myself hypersensitive to people’s presence around me.


My objective:

  • Represent the amount of personal space over time.

  • Represent my mood in relation to the amount of space I have


Data collection & processing


I used an Arduino, ultrasonic distance sensor, and EEProm (memory module) to continuously record the distance between my body to any other physical objects in front and behind me.


At the end of a day, I connected the Arduino to my laptop, and the data collected would be sent as serial data and visualized in p5.js. Read development documentation for more details.

Visualization Format

  • Radius: amount of space

  • Angle: time of day

  • Color & vibration: my mood (red is anxious, blue is relaxed)

Improvement Plan

  • Permanent data storage to a database

  • Sync timestamp with geolocation data from my phone to draw a map of the amount of personal space in relation to geo-location.

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