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2017. Group project with Sophie Owen, Ruksana Shaukat Jali and Frankie Suer. 

Mechatronic eye that responds to nearby presences and light levels.

Mechanical Design  •  Electronics  •  Ideation   •  Prototyping  •  Teamwork  •  Arduino  •  Raspberry Pi  •  Adobe Premiere  • SolidWorks

Panopticon is a responsive mechanical eye that turns to look at nearby presences and has an iris that adjusts in response to light levels. It integrates machine elements with simple feedback control systems using sensors and actuators connected to Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Designed and built in four weeks, this project pushed us to combine sensors, newly learnt programming languages and mechanisms into an engaging experience.


My role focussed on the design and iterative construction of the overall structure of the eye, sourcing components and coding a number of features including a live feed from a Raspberry Pi camera to a display behind the eye structure.  I also edited and created music for the video.


Iris mechanism actuated by servo.

Our name was inspired by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s concept of a prison and system of control, The Panopticon, in which inmates do not know when they are being watched and thus feel constantly under watch.

Our aim was to create an object and experience that could tie this sense of always being watched to privacy concerns and the feeling of insecurity in the modern digital age.

Panopticon Looking Right (label).jpg

5 MP Raspberry Pi camera at the eye's centre, outputs a live feed to a display behind the eye that is reflected back in a mirror array.

When an

object is close

enough to one of the IR sensors, the eye turns to observe that side.

Mounting platform in eye structure on which several components are attached.

High torque servo motor with acrylic input gear.

CdS Photoresistor (Light sensor).

Raspberry Pi.

Skeletal laser cut MDF structure.

One of two (left & right) IR sensors connected to Arduino Uno.

Nylon wire.

Iris mechanism actuated by servo motor in response to light level.



Early Design Development

Determining functions and an overall structure and layout. Design and prototype of initial structure and proposed interaction. Sketching, CAD (SolidWorks) and laser cutting.

Iris Mechanism Development

Cardboard prototyping followed by research, testing, CAD, laser cutting and refinement to eliminate friction.

Electronics and Coding

Development of code for Arduino and Raspberry Pi to integrate functions. Testing and iteration of sensors and code, working with IR, ultrasonic and light sensors, plus a Raspberry Pi camera.

Structure development and Build

Testing, iteration and integration of mechanisms in combination with electronics, final assembly.