Dance Cam was an impromptu-dance-party-generating project that I designed and built for an arts festival at the MIT Media Lab in the spring of 2013. The idea was inspired by the Media Lab's infamous "Food Cam." When anyone at the Lab had leftover food, they put it on a particular countertop, and pushed a nearby button. An overhead webcam then took a snapshot of the food and notified the whole Lab via email that there was free food for the taking with an enticing image attached. Depending on the quality of the items, a rush of people would then swarm the area to get some food before it was gone.
Dance Cam was similar, but instead of food, it was all about dance parties. When someone at the Lab wanted to start an impromptu dance party, she would head to a particular, jazzed up room that was designated for this project. Inside, she would find a big red button, a small screen displaying the Dance Cam logo, and a prompt to push the button. When she pushed the button, she would hear a voice that said, "Thank you. The community has been notified of your dance party. Enjoy." A random song would then start playing, and a colored LED light would begin flashing. Everyone on the Dance Cam mailing list would then receive an email that a dance party was happening, encouraging them to join. The email also contained a link to view a live stream of the dance party. Once the song was over, the light would turn off, and a voice would say, "Thank you for using Dance Cam. To continue your dance party, please press the button." If the button was pushed, another random song was chosen, the light turned back on, and the party continued. Otherwise, after 10 seconds of inactivity, it said, "Goodbye" and reset back to its initial state.
Under the hood, Dance Cam was powered by a Raspberry Pi, a mini dashboard monitor, loud speakers, a hacked remote-control LED light bulb, and a python script.