Archive for the ‘Art and Design’ Category

Massimo Banzi – Arduino to the people

September 20th, 2010 by NearInteraction

massimo banzi

Massimo Banzi is something of a legend in the world of interaction design. Cheerful and unpretentious, he is one of the founding members of the Arduino phenomenon. I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by him recently.

“…to allow everyday people to use electronics and software as a creative medium with the least possible pain.”

It was this deceptively simple vision that led Massimo and his contemporaries at Ivrea Interaction design Institute to develop Arduino, in doing so making a significant contribution to a DIY revolution in technology that continues to pose a serious threat the to status quo.
Technology, arguably the most powerful medium in the world today, was becoming the sole domain of well-resourced profit-driven companies. It wasn’t just the technology patents or the skill barriers, in many cases it was actually illegal to even open up and look inside a product that you had bought and paid for, let alone (God forbid) modify it to suit your actual needs as an individual… iPhone anyone?

Teach a man to fish…

Putting technology in the hands of people that otherwise would not have access to it is of course a large part of what the open-source movement as a whole has been trying to achieve.
Projects like Ubuntu (a completely free and highly function operating system based on Linux) and Open Office have done exactly this. However, empowering people with free tools is only half of the solution, ultimately empowering people to create their own technology is far more powerful.

What is Arduino?

Arduino can act as an electronic brain for, well, just about anything. Essentially, it’s a very small and incredibly flexible computer; designed to allow you to combine it with any number of other hardware or software systems. It has it’s own software language, based on Java, which allows you to create programs that control the hardware.

Here are a few projects built with Arduino:


word clock
Word clock by drj113.

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TableTalk is an experimental interactive student project that visualizes speech and conversation.

Seem complicated? It isn’t quiet Lego, but for those with a minimum of determination, Ardiuno opens up a world of technological possibilities. Check out this video of 3 11-year old girls who upgraded their cat teddy-bear with a “mouse alert system”.


Who cares?

Artists students, hobbyists and anyone who wants to harness the power of technology for their own individual creativity. It’s especially useful for students studying in areas like interactive art or interaction design because we can use it to prototype our ideas. Designs prototyped in Arduino might end up being manufactured entirely differently if they go into mass production.

Why its so dam cool.

1. Cheap to manufacture and purchase.

Around €20 gets you an Arduino board. Massimo and the Arduino team realized early on that if they were going to be putting technology in the hands of the above demographic it was going to have to be cheap.

2. Relatively easy to learn and use

At the expense of really advanced features, the decision was made to keep it as simple as possible. A combination of a user-friendly design and extensive community driven documentation means that you can get stuck in and make stuff right away.

3. Completely open-source

In true open-source fashion it combined and reconstituted other powerful open-source projects to create something new and more powerful. The physical prototyping platform Wiring and the Processing language were its primary constituents.

Everything about Arduino is freely available, including the design details from the boards themselves. That means if you you really want to you could go and manufacture (even sell) your own Arduino boards, Seeduino did just that, modifying and building on the base system.

lilypad

A good example of the power of this approach is the LilyPad Arduino board (above). Designed and developed by Leah Buechley and SparkFun Electronics, The LilyPad Arduino is a microcontroller board designed for wearables and e-textiles. It can be sewn to fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors and actuators with conductive thread.

More importantly though, open-source means that the intellectual property of Arduino is essentially owned by “the community”; there is no doubt that the incredible success of Arduino would not have been possible without the discover, make & share ecosystem that characterizes open-source communities. Any one project built in Arduino will involve the integration and modification of some amount of software and techniques that have been previously discovered and shared by the community.

If you’re interested in the idea of open-source hardware, the topic was examined closely in this article on wired.com.

I’ll leave you with Massimo’s final slide, design by Matt Jones.

get excited and make things

Dive into the DIY electronics world online:

arduino.cc/en/
makezine.com
instructables.com
thingiverse

About the author:
Charles is a student of Interaction design at Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. His website is here: simstim.co.za


AR simulation from SoftLab

July 14th, 2010 by NearInteraction


iPad app delivers real-time trend forecasts

May 27th, 2010 by NearInteraction

Stylesignal provides its customers with constantly updated fashion forecasts, trend information, news coverage and inspiration, all for prices starting at USD 99 per week. Now that Apple’s iPad is out, however, the company has ported its full package of coverage to that platform. The iPad’s high-quality display has the same colour acuity and wide viewing angle of ultra-high end photographic displays, the company notes, making it perfect for viewing swatches, photographs and designs used commercially in the fashion industry. Accordingly, instead of just looking at a picture, Stylesignal subscribers can now “pinch to zoom, touch to see a colour palette based on industry referenced colours, or move from street style photos to catwalk pictures at the flick of a finger,” it says. The continuously updated iPad app also serves as a trend book that never goes out of date, the company says. This month and next, Stylesignal is giving new subscribers a free iPad; existing ones can download the iPad app from Apple’s App Store for free.

via Springwise


iCade – iPad Arcade Cabinet

May 25th, 2010 by NearInteraction

Didn’t think you needed an iPad? Think again!

When the iPad was announced, we all crammed into a conference room to watch live and drool over every shiny corner and reflecty icon. After the glow of the initial announcement wore off, many of us came to the conclusion that the iPad was actually pretty useless. “It’s a giant iPhone!” some said. Others exclaimed, “WTF, no Flash!?”. Still, we knew that most Apple fanbots (us included) would have to have one anyway.

Knowing that many of our loyal geeky customers would eventually get their retractable claws on an iPad at some point, we knew we needed to take it to the next level. What cool things could we do with the iPad that you, our lovely geek customers, would squee over? A few brainstorming sessions later, the idea of a MAME cabinet came up and we knew we’d struck gold. How cool would it be to slide your iPad into a desktop-sized arcade cabinet and rock it old school with some Pac-Man or Space Invaders?

via ThinkGeek


IKCam

September 23rd, 2009 by NearInteraction

Make a portrait or take a snapshot with your — new — friend. The ikCam will directly publish the image on the website.
This new RFID application is well suited for conferences, exhibitions en other events. In a playful manner members of communities can make contact with each other. The ikCam makes social networks visible and fun!


onedotzero interactive festival identity

September 14th, 2009 by NearInteraction

Karsten Schmidt and the team ran the first full test of the interactive identity that will take over the western wall of the NFT Southbank from Wednesday 9th September as part of the onedotzero_adventures in motion festival.
Using the Nokia N900, punters will be able to control the live conversations behind the identity – twisting, turning and feeding the aggregated words to help build our first living, breathing onedotzero identity.
Software built by Karsten (in Processing) and Gary working with Maemo 5 (for the not so geeky that’s the new Linux-based operating system on the N900).

Source: http://vimeo.com/6417194


Virtual Graffitti?? (actually just a digital wall)

July 15th, 2009 by NearInteraction

Although street art is experiencing a renaissance, the old issue of vandalism remains. YrWall is an interactive virtual graffiti wall that avoids the drips and damage because, quite simply, there’s no paint involved. Users paint on a projection screen using a can that’s actually an infra-red beam controlled by a button and tracked using a computer vision system. By pressing the faux spray can’s button, users draw on the wall much like using their computer’s draw function, but without the mouse and on a much larger scale. A pop-up interface provides an array of digital paint colours and also allows users to select themes like nature or urban; grabbing images from these themes to add to their piece.

YrWall, which can be hired short- or long-term or installed bespoke, has already been quite a hit at events like the UK’s Secret Garden Party. Adding to the concept’s appeal and branding opportunities, people can receive a free digital copy of their art to share with friends, or can have their design printed on t-shirts and stickers right after they’ve finalized their piece.

While YrWall isn’t going to eclipse the interest in genuine street art and good old spray-can graffiti, it’s an appealing mix of physical and digital, and of performance and play. Which could make for an irresistible offering for event organizers and their novelty-seeking clients.

Website: www.yrwall.com


RFID Pillow

May 15th, 2009 by NearInteraction

It’s an RFID activated pillow person featuring a built-in media player and a taste for reading. The child can activate the reading voice by bringing a RFID tagged book close to the pillow.

See more here.


Polygon Playground

February 27th, 2009 by NearInteraction

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WHITEvoid.com


Optimist vs …

February 11th, 2009 by NearInteraction

http://nuigroup.com/?ACT=28&fid=2&aid=2531_QjycpcUXvjTIIVPiu4Nb