#1 Handheld

The move from building-size to fingernail-size computers remains one of the most dramatic changes in the history of human technological development. Being able to hold a device, put it in a pocket or bag, or curl up with it in a chair marks a dramatic change in how we can relate to technology, and accordingly, of the types of interactions we can imagine wanting to have with a device.

For this project, you are to create a handheld device of your own purpose, design, and construction. Given what we have learned so far about using LEDs, sound, switches, knobs, and other inputs with the Arduino, imagine how you can use size, touch, and design to create an interesting handheld interactive object. It can be a game, a fidget device, a tool, a prop for a sci-fi film, anything you can imagine. You are encouraged to use narrative to create a world or metaphorize otherwise simple outputs and interactions to tell a story and create a deeper connection to the object. You should watch this short video on sensor types to get and idea of what is out there.

You can use any enclosure you can come up with, custom laser cut, foamcore, cardboard, or found objects, the only requirement is that your piece consider the enclosure as a key part of the overall interface you are presenting to someone interacting with your object. If part of your narrative is to have the wires and circuits exposed, you need to be prepared to explain how that works with your concept. Keep in mind how these elements are used in games like this and this to make sense of an otherwise odd sequence of blinking lights.

There are a few steps necessary to complete the project:

  1. Create 5 sketches of ideas and objects. Make at least one of them as fantastical as you can, even if it is not technically possible.
  2. Narrow down your ideas to a top 2 and flesh out what is required to create them. Include a list of parts and what is necessary to create the enclosure. Bring all sketches and work to class on Tuesday October, 17th to discuss one-on-one.
  3. Begin collecting your parts. If you want more novel inputs, you may need to journey to All Electronics to find parts, or spend some time online to find what you need.
  4. Make an outline of how the software component of your project is going to work. Be able to tell the story of how your code runs and responds to the user.
  5. Build your first prototype of the circuit. Planning a project that uses both hardware and software takes time, get started!
  6. Iterate and refine your idea based on your prototype, design your enclosure and make sure everything will fit!
  7. Complete the build!

We will have an in-class critique on October, 31st bring your object ad be prepared to present it to the class.

You can find the slides for the workshops so far here: Introduction, Arduino, Input

#2 Keyboard

The history of the keyboard, from a single button, to mechanical monsters, to smooth touch surfaces has defined how we think about getting text into a computer.

For this project, you are to re-imagine the keyboard. How strange can a keyboard really be? What does a purpose-built keyboard tell us about the intended uses of it? If the keyboard really is a way to narrow and focus our thoughts, to digitize expression, can a strange keyboard expand and blur thought?

Working in groups of 2, make a keyboard focusing on non-standard sensors, buttons, and inputs. We will work ont eh project in class on Tuesday the 14th and finish up and review our creations on Thursday the 16th. This project is less formal than the last, use it as a way to quickly test ideas and concepts. You should be able to complete the hardware work in-class.

Simple Code for Internet Keyboard

#3 Mark And-or Sound

Due in class on Thursday December 7th

Conceive and build a mark-making or sound-making apparatus. Mark-making is frequently discussed in relation to different types of art practice and the history of humans and art; similarly music and instrument making are a core part of every human culture.

Your apparatus must create a physical mark or sound using some type of conceptual, mechanical, and/or computational rules. It must also execute these rules in real time when the device is turned on, interacted with, etc. For example, if your apparatus draws on paper with a marker, you should be able to set it down, plug it in, and we will be able to see the process of mark-making. If your machine bangs on a drum, you should be able to plug it in and have it go to it.

If you want to do something the result of which cannot be shown in real-time, such as a machine that exposes photopaper or film, you will still need to show the machine at work, but also bring in the developed results.

You are free to interpret physical broadly, but you must be ready to defend your interpretation. Mark-making and sound-making should leave plenty of room for interpretation and material exploration. Try to think beyond dragging pen on paper or knocking on something. There are no restrictions on interaction or sensors. Your apparatus can use sensors to respond, can work with a processing application, or can just start working when connected to power.

We will look at each person's apparatus and discuss them on the last day of class.

Examples from class:

Drawing Machines

Sound Machines

Motors PDF