A project by Sarah Peng and Apoorva Ramakrishnan.

An educational tour of our solar system with a twist that puts a planet right in the palms of the user.

Planetarium is an interactive solar system that uses physical computing and p5. Using a 6DOF (6 Degrees of Freedom) sensor, we were able to create a spherical controller that when turned, also rotates the planet on screen. While there are many interactive solar system apps available, Planetarium is different because it integrates physical computing in a way that we have not seen before for these kinds of projects. The controller and how one interacts with it is what makes our project unique. Combined with a traditional solar system tour interface, the alternative controller is meant to subvert an expectation while creating a fresh, playful, and educational experience for users.

The p5 sketch is controlled by a physical remote and the mouse. Using the mouse, the user can click on any celestial body displayed, and it will zoom in on the planet and display information (name, size, surface gravity, etc.) in the upper left hand corner. The controller can then be rotated, and the planet will mirror this rotation on the screen.

Our audience is primarily children who do not know much about the solar system and want to explore. It is especially for tactile learners. Our alternative controller allows the natural movement of turning an object around in one’s hands to translate on to on-screen exploration.