Worry Capsule Tree


Designer & Developer


2017 Fall


Art Direction
Physical Computing
Front-end Development

Every day, we find ourselves surrounded by worries and concerns. Yet, as time progresses, we often come to realize the relative triviality of those problems. Introducing the Worry Capsule Tree—an interactive installation designed to store people's present worries and send them into the future. This unique concept enables users to retrieve their previous worries and revisit their past selves, offering an opportunity for reflection and perspective.

The Idea - Why we made it?

The initial inspiration for the Worry Capsule Tree stemmed from a personal desire to alleviate daily stress by externalizing and compartmentalizing anxieties. During discussions with my collaborator, the concept of time capsules emerged, as they serve as vessels for storing memories that remain inaccessible until a significant period later.

Both of us found the idea of storing current worries and retrieving them in the future intriguing. On one hand, it offers a means to relieve present stress, while on the other hand, it provides an opportunity to revisit our past selves and witness personal growth and progress.

Since our focus revolved around emotions and memories, we pondered how users would best interact and emotionally connect with the capsule. This led us to contemplate the device's appearance. Our initial thought was to envision a tree—a symbol of transformation and growth. Similar to how trees absorb substances from the environment and convert them into nourishing fruits, we saw the tree as a metaphor for converting people's anxiety into assets for the future. Thus, we decided to create a worry capsule tree that responds to users and serves as a storage space for their worries.

How do users interact with the installations?

User interactions diagram of the project

Experience Flow

User experience flow


The foundation of the construction comprises a wooden panel and three supporting legs. The gap between the wooden panel and the ground enables us to effectively handle and control the circuits and microcontroller positioned beneath it. We opted for copper pipe to serve as the central support of the tree-like structure. In addition to providing sturdiness to the tree, the hollow space within the tube serves as a concealment and centralization point for all the wires running from the top to the bottom of the tree.

Structure diagram of the installation

Light Arrangement

There are three RGB LEDs, six White LEDs, and three Neo-Pixels(each has 30 pixels) on this tree. The positions are shown as follows:

Light arrangement diagram of the installation

Design & Development Process

Project timeline

Playtesting Finding

Once we conceived the idea of the "Worry Capsule Tree," we utilized a basic cardboard prototype to conduct a playtesting session. The objective of this playtesting was to gather feedback on the concept and determine the most suitable interactive methods between users and the installation. When it came to expressing worries, we identified two options: writing or speaking. In order to determine which method made people feel more comfortable interacting with the tree, we carried out testing.

Interestingly, the results of the playtesting revealed a split preference, with 50% of testers opting to write down their worries, while the remaining 50% chose to vocalize them. The primary reason cited by those who preferred writing was the need for privacy. They expressed a reluctance to have their thoughts overheard in public. Conversely, the other group stated that speaking out about their worries felt easier and more intuitive. Furthermore, one tester mentioned that writing required them to be mindful of grammar and contemplate the structure of their writing. In other words, they found that recording their voice felt more genuine than putting their words into writing.

Ultimately, we made the decision to utilize voice as the input method for the tree, as we believed it offered a more engaging level of interactivity. Our aim was to create an illusion that users were genuinely conversing with the tree itself.

Photo of the play test prototype


Sketch of the user experience flowLight arrangement sketchStructure sketchAnimation sketch

Interface Mockups

Animation explorations Animation explorations Animation explorations Animation explorations
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