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CMU Electronic Media Studio II, Fall 2011, Section D » Looking Outwards

More Looking Outwards

Looking Outwards,Uncategorized — DANIELLE.KOGAN @ 5:07 am


Not too complicated, but that’s part of what I like. It gives an example of a simple interactive toy that I could probably build. It feels very accessible, and looks to provide a good deal of fun. I also appreciate the fact that it was done both in a seminar, and by a small group of people rather than an individual. I really enjoy working in groups, so I like seeing things produced by teams of people (in this case, people who were probably strangers before the workshop). Very simple, but still a cool toy!



Playing with your cat and a laser pointer has never been so needlessly complicated! But who cares? Look at the little fur friend! In any case, this project attaches the laser point to a rotating device, and uses a controller to move the laser pointer around using an arduino circuit. More complicated than it has to be to play with your cat? Probably. Simple and cool looking. Definitely. Again, I like this project due to its accessibility, and interactivity. These posts are showing that I have a fondness for duino toys.




Hahahaha, I’m terrible.

I really like arduino, but the coding aspects leave me baffled and perplexed! Just as I’m starting to get into it now, I’m running into many road blocks because:

a) I should have done this earlier


b) ACK! Code! -Cathy

This visual based arduino code for kids looks like a fun and easy simplification of the code, but still seems to offer a lot of layers for use (it also shows the real code to the side of the visual block style coding, so you can see what you’re putting together!).

This looks like a great idea, especially for people interested in building basic robots, but don’t know much about code! Yeah! It’s fwiend.

Looking Outwards

Looking Outwards — DANIELLE.KOGAN @ 4:54 am

Behind Behind Behind Behind.



First up! Not really Arduino, but still pretty damn cool. This group has created videogames which take in user input as per usual. But instead of controlling a “character” on the screen, players control microorganisms. I really like the layers that can be taken away from this project. Is it ethical? What if this was done on a larger scale? Could it be done on a larger scale? Is this ethical? If so, how is it better or worse than just using microorganisms? ARE WE RUINING GOD’S PLAN? Just kidding, but in all seriousness this is pretty great. It gives the everyman a way to play around with biotechnology, and promote interest. Which I think is pretty swell.




Shamwow! You too can be a magic man. The arduino is used to measure a user’s brain activity/level of concentration. The more you concentrate, the faster the car moves. Apparently not many people can do it though. Is it technology, or are they truly magic men? Probably the first one. The simplicity of the set up, versus the difficulty of the code bites at me a little, because gak, the code. But the potential shown here is simply fantastic. Very inspiring for making my own pieces.



Man, it’s just a god damn Furby, right? These guys actually accomplish a ton of stuff (movement, sensory input) based on very simple mechanics. For example, only one DC motor controls the ears and beak movements. Pretty neat. I really like how this gives an example of how arduino technology can be used to make a toy (something like the Furby), or hack a pre existing toy (again, the Furby, check out the second link). Both a real world, and a more artistic(?) use for the Arduino.

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Looking Outwards — AeonX @ 4:08 am

Oh dear… A bit behind on my Looking Outward posts…

Decided to make this one INSTALLATION themed. Mmm… Yummy.


First up, Me Wonderland, a 2010 project from Super Nature Design in Shanghai. I love that they used old, found(?) objects for this. I love that they painted them all white. Freaks. I loooooooooove the pixelated light inside the jellyfish cloud thing. Heck, I love jellyfish clouds, so I am predetermined to adore this. Of course, what brings this piece to life is the Arduino-controlled light show. Apparently there is a sound sensor element, though I cannot grasp the sound part from the pix or video. And the video keeps cutting out!! Arrr!!! Click here to see a stop-motion video of the team assembling the structure.


I think this next project is best described as Warhol’s Silver Clouds on steroids. It is Captured by Nils and Sven Voelker from May 2011 in Berlin. What I find flipping out of control is that ONE – just ONE – Arduino board powers this whole thing. Here, they explain it better than I am able to paraphrase: “The setup consists of 252 modules, inflating cushions made from space blankets, that cover about 130 square meter on the floor. Inside each module there are eight cpu cooling fans inflating and deflating each bag in variable speeds. All together there are 2016 fans moving about 60 cubic meters of air. The whole set is controlled by a single Arduino board with shift registers attached to it to receive a total of 504 output pins. In this way every single bag could be controlled fully independently.” Damn. Be sure to make it (or fast forward) to the 5-minute mark in the video… This is when individual cushions are shown inflating one by one. In my opinion, when the piece shows the most personality. And they use an Underworld song as part of the soundtrack. Ah, the ’90’s… Sigh…


Last is Matthew Ganucheau’s My Cloud from 2010, using Lily Pad Arduinos and Xbees. Lie back, hug your cloud pillow, and see the corresponding squish of the cloud projected onto the ceiling above you. “By squeezing the pillow in different areas, forces are applied that allow participants to control the shape and motion of the clouds. There are four cloud pillows so multiple participants can interact with each other’s clouds and collaborate on shapes.” If this were comprised of just one pillow, it would not be as effective. I like that you can collaboratively build cloud shapes with friends or strangers lounging next to you. Nice. Matthew has other cool interactive projects on his site, including Color Swarm from 2008 for which he used Max/Msp to route incoming and outgoing data.


Looking Outwards #7

Looking Outwards — JILLIAN.GOODWYN @ 7:57 pm

Shoebox Mario


I was blown away by this project for two main reasons: One, this is awesome and looks super fun, and two, all the parts are things we’ve learned about so far in EMS II and we totally have the capability to make fun things like this (with a little help, of course). “Shoebox Mario” takes a famous and beloved old game and transforms it into something that is directly interactive and “real.” I really like that the creator opens it up in the second half of the video and explains how it works. I think that is a great way to simultaneously get your audience to understand your work while explaining its meaning and purpose. When you take the time to explain the magic behind something, it helps people appreciate it all the more and understand what it’s all about.


The Gameduino

I think this is a fantastic little piece of technology, and I’d love to purchase it someday once I learn more about the Arduino itself. The Gameduino is basically a shield for your Arduino that plugs into it and allows you generate 8-bit graphics, sounds, and gameplay. As seen in the Shoebox Mario game that I discussed above, the ability to rethink games in 8-bit form seems like a really great opportunity to realize new interpretations for old favorites. I would totally love to get my hands on a Gameduino and make some fun, interactive games utilizing the Arduino’s own capabilities.


Turn Signal Biking Jacket

I love this!!! I would definitely love to build myself one of these. The creator made what seems like a simple program using a Lilypad and blinking LEDs to make a hoodie that has turn signals on the back of it that blink when the wearer pushes the respective buttons, located on the sleeves of the hoodie. Something I would change is that I would hide the Lilypad somewhere on the inside of the hoodie, where it is safe from the elements and damage. Additionally, I’m not sure how well or how far away LEDs can be seen from far away by cars during the day, and I would like to test that further for safety. Otherwise, I think this is an awesome and useful invention, and I would love to have one when I go on long bike rides!

Looking Outwards

Looking Outwards — HENRY.ARMERO @ 4:58 am

Hoo boy. I haven’t done looking outwardses in too long. Will have to catch up.

Mio I-zawa’s Mechanical Tumor

This work of art is (as you can see in the video, hopefully!) a weird mechanical tumorlike thing that grows larger when your computer is under stress. When there is a high cpu-usage, a fan turns on, pushing air into the balloonlike tumor. It’s really disgusting and a super neat idea, if you ask me. The difficulty of mixing organic structures with mechanical things and electronics is an interesting problem that will eventually have to be addressed more and more, as the world progresses through robotical technological stages. The contraption is really well made, too. There’s pinches and knots in the fake flesh and when it expands it doesn’t look just like a piece of plastic. I-zawa has succeeded in growing some fleshy thing on a machine.

External Heart

This is another work of I-zawa’s that I thought I would mention. It’s a mechanical heart that is controlled by a heart-rate monitor. It putts along with every beat! But while it is a neat idea, and very well constructed (it seems), there seems something missing to me. Like, I understand that with the mechanical tumor he was trying to demonstrate that your computer has a ‘disease’ when it is running out of cycles to use, but with the heart I’m just not sure what to think. It’s a cool concept, but, what. What is accomplished by having our hearts trail us like dogs on leashes? The artwork is good, but I’m not sure what to do with it. Something seems not right. I don’t know.


I really like this little gadget. It’s a mechanical eye attached onto a wooly sleeve, worn on ones arm. As you walk about the streets of tokyo, etc, it glances about, as eyes often do. But eventually it will spot someone in particular and focus on them, trailing them as you walk around. Then, if you get out your smartphone and take a picture with some program you can see a demon on their face which you can exorcise by waving your phone about. Hm. I really like the actual eye. Just as a weird accessory to have, it’s so cool! I would buy this way fast if it was reasonably priced and for sale and whatever. On the other hand though, I’m not sure what the app adds. I like that it has this whole message of It Sees Invisible Demons!! But it seems like a weird and tedious extra limb on this gorgeous model of a weird arm-sleeve. Soo. Yes. Super idea, but they did too much! Weird watchy eyeballs are good enough.

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Looking Outwards — AeonX @ 1:23 pm

The Barbarian Group combined Arduino, Processing, a web cam, magnets, and laser cutting to create their Biomimetic Butterflies installation. Visitors are tracked on the webcam and Arduino which then triggers the butterflies to flex their wings as people approach. I appreciate the attention to detail on this project, from the intricately patterned butterfly wings, to the linen(?) covered platforms to which the butterflies are mounted, and the precisely fabricated display cases concealing the larger magnets. Even the tiny magnets on the butterfly wings look like mechanical jewels. The wing patterns were designed in Processing, so I may need to garner a bit more love for the program/language (and coding skills) if it is capable of generating patterns that may then be laser cut. This is a few years old (from 2007), so I wonder if the reaction time of the butterflies flapping in response to “seeing” people from the webcam might be improved. You may watch a video here to see more examples of the beautiful wing patterns.

Also, I have a distinct love/hate relationship with butterfly exhibits. On one hand, I like being able to see different butterflies from around the world, different wing patterns, etc… (I am thinking specifically of the ones at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.) On the other, it is pretty sick to capture the beautiful creatures and pin them down for display. I use butterfly, dragonfly, and cicada wings in my own art… But these are always collected as found objects, after the insects have died a natural death. Therefore, the wings are usually a bit tattered. Anyway… There is definitely something disturbing about pinned butterflies that – even though they are constructed from paper – still seem alive. I like it.


Admittedly, not much in the way of artistic content, but the idea of constructing Sun Tracking Solar Panels on the super cheap to power interactive art (outside, even on partially cloudy days) is what excites me. I love that Luke Gyn(sp?) used CDs and styrofoam (held together with hot glue) to construct the body. (I know, completely opposite from why I like the Biomim Butterflies… But for this application, it makes sense.) Solar panels were pulled from pathways lights. The tracker is powered by an Arduino and a servo motor. Three photo resistors are mounted on a board just beneath the solar panels. From what I understand, the photo resistors are programmed to follow the light. As Luke explains in the video, the tracker looks to see which photo resistor is getting the most light, and it wants the center resistor to be the brightest. He was even nice enough to post the schematic and code. Response time appears impressive… Does not seem like there is much delay at all between light fluctuating and the tracker turning to compensate. Oh yeah… Aaaaaaand… The video shows him using a multi-tester to demonstrate the panels pulling in 5.75 volts.


Again, not much with artistic content (at least not the visible, on the surface kind), but Mitch Altman’s Brain Machine had me at “trippy.”  Make art in your head! I have actually known about these types of glasses for quite a few years. I remember being at an industrial club in Los Angeles in the ’90s where I tried on a pair, but only for a few seconds, because I almost immediately heard a song I wanted to dance to, and, yeah… Dancing won. Anyway… I am now infinitely more interested in exploring the possibilities of manipulating my brain waves with blinky lights. Also, Eric mentioned something like this in class about a week or so ago, so now you can see how to make your own. Or you can just buy a pair for $40 here. (They are called Trip Glasses on Altman’s Cornfield Electronics site.)

Back in the day, Altman (with Jaron Lanier) was a pioneer in the field of virtual reality. These days – in addition to the trip glasses – he is the daddy of TV-B-Gone, a seemingly nifty universal remote that can turn TVs on and off at your evil will.

Looking Outward #6

Looking Outwards — JILLIAN.GOODWYN @ 2:47 am

Teddy Bear Alarm Clock

I am in love with the idea of pairing two pretty common objects in order to create something that is functional, useful, and appealing to the senses of sight and touch. The artist, Nicholas Zambetti, combined the functionality of an everday alarm clock with the appeal and comfort of a teddy bear. I like that the artist looked beyond the expected limitations of an alarm clock and transformed it into something more appealing (for most people). However, my criticisms include that the teddy bear alarm clock probably promotes hitting the snooze button due to its connotations of comfort; additionally, the directions of how to set the clock up seem a bit confusing and unnaturally mapped. Regardless, I really like the idea and would probably buy it to at least give it a try!

Sight Gauntlet

This one fascinated me quite a bit. The artist, Jeff Gray, rigged up a pretty complex-looking set of sensors to provide tactile feedback via vibrating motors to the user. This allows the user to perceive extra information about the environment, such as specific distances of objects. I think this is a really incredible exploration of technology, and it makes me consider what possibilities could be explored to help handicapped people live more comfortably. I feel like this is a step toward something like “prosthetic eyes” or something, and I am very interested to see where experimentations like this might go in the future.


It’s probably very bad etiquette of me to write about something that I could hardly read the description for (because it was written in Thai or something), but I feel the greatest accomplishment for an artist is when he or she can captivate people regardless of language barriers, or any other sort of obstacle for that matter. And that is exactly what this artist has done with the piece featured in the video above. I have almost no idea what the piece is all about, but I love it and I could absolutely love to create largescale intereactive pieces like that.

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Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 3:11 pm

The Reverse Geocache by rumtopf  makes interesting use of the Arduino in that the Arduino is connected to a GPS that detects the location of the briefcase.  When the briefcase is in the right location the GPS communicates with the Arduino, compelling the Arduino to unlock the briefcase.  I really like this idea because rumtopf is definitely a case of a person not inhibited by fixed functionality.  I have never thought of having a lock that opens when it is put in the right location rather then opening when the correct key is placed in the lock.  The interactive nature of the piece is also interesting because the case holds some prize that the user ultimately wants to access but it cannot be accessed unless the suitcase is in the right location.  The process to opening a suitcase is usually so simple but this artist complicates it in a great way.



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Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 2:47 pm

Bruna Caliheros created the Magic Crystal Mood Ball using an Arduino Uno and temperature sensors.  The project is really simple in that the temperature sensor detects the temp of the user.  The data collected by this sensor is interpreted and is then outputed in the form of different color LED’s.  If you are calm, your skin temp is lower then if you are all hot and bothered so the ball will be green for calm based on the temp of your skin.


Go HERE to see the project in detail.

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Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 2:41 pm

The revolution will be automated! Gone are the days when you’d have to practice drawing big letters legibly with a rattle can in order to get your message across. Thanks to the folks at Graffiti Research Lab France, you need only walk along the perimeter wall with your finger on the button of their spray paint graffiti printer.  The project is controlled by and Arduino and I like it because it is a seemingly simple application of the Arduino but the mechanisms behind it are probably much more complicated.

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