Integrating Processing sketches with Arduino

This week’s Physical Computing labs were extremely fun. Here’s a sketch that reads values from a pressure sensor:

And this is a video of a sketch that displays tweets being controlled by an accelerometer:

I was also able to control a the xy coordinates of an object on the screen using the accelerometer, but failed to document it…

What is Interactivity?

A few thoughts on Bret Victor’s “The Future of Interaction Design”

Victor begins his invective against current trends in interaction design with a video produced by Microsoft that depicting various lonely souls swiping at paper-thin screens in a not-too-distant future. It makes for a good target and feels at home in Microsoft’s line of depressing videos about the current and could-be future state of technology. The characters in it seem so alienated and the overall mood so melancholy that I was actually surprised that the man at the subway station at 1:52 doesn’t just go ahead and step in front of the oncoming train. He really looks like he’s considering it:

Victor laments the lack of vision in this version of the future, and notes that the paradigm of the tablet, which has only recently become a reality, was in fact initiated by Alan Kay in 1968. The vision has not advanced significantly since then, and the tools that we use do not come close to leveraging our expressive capacity (although I do think that the glass smart phone does, ironically, enhance human capability: in this case it is the human capability to swipe ineffectually at a world that you are alienated from).

Chris Crawford describes interactivity as a kind of infinite loop of “listen, think, speak” between two actors. Victor, I think, would want to collapse that loop, make it entirely invisible to the actors. Victor has described his work almost as a cure for blindness, saying that good interactivity allows the user to “see what you’re doing” and “try ideas as you think of them”. This type of interaction, which seeks to enhance understanding, generate unexpected ideas, and aid in creativity, requires tools that are able to leverage a full range of sensory input and output. Not merely of the eyes, but also the ears, the hands, and ultimately the entire body.

PhysComp 101

First class in Physical Computing we were tasked with coming up with a prototype for a fantastical device. Saki, Michelle and I decided to work on the concept of an “Infinite Container”.

Here’s our final invention, in all its glory.container1

As you can see we opted for a skeuomorphic Whole Foods paper grocery bag. The iPad mini duct-taped to the front of the device gives users access to the contents of the Infinite Container. Someone has decided to store a baby in this container, despite the unambiguous warning.

A button, ergonomically affixed to the bag handle, allows for convenient ingress and egress of objects via the object-capturing receptacle located discretely on the side of the device.

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