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

Looking Outward 5-3

Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 2:34 pm

Matt Tennie and Lily Szajnberg designed and built a device that is suspended from the ceiling of their high school and looks like Michael Jackson’s hand.  When people give the hand a high five the project sends data to Processing which then tells a webcam to take a picture of the person and send the photo to a flickr account.  I think this is a really interesting project.  It uses the communication between a sensor and Processing in a way that creates an account of instances in time.


Go HERE to see all the photos from the project.

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Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 2:21 pm



The Magical Dragon Head Wizard Staff was a project created by Ken Miller created this Arduino controlled prop for Halloween.  Ken used an accelerometer to measure the position of the staff and to also measure when it is pounded on the ground.  The position of the accelerometer makes the globe in the dragons mouth and the runes on the sides light up and when the staff is directed towards whatever object is the victim of the spell (but basically it is measuring how tilted the pole is).


Go HERE to learn how to make this weird dragon head staff.

Looking Outward 5-1

Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 2:07 pm

This is a really cool project with Arduino where the Arduino detects knocks on a door.  Once the knocks are detedted, Arduino compares the pattern to a preset acceptable “secret” knock pattern.  When it recognizes the correct pattern of knocks the Arduino sends a signal to the door handle to open the door.


Go HERE to read more about this project and to learn how to do it yourself.

Looking Outwards #5

Looking Outwards — JILLIAN.GOODWYN @ 10:31 pm

Pollutant-detecting Arduino

This is a really great concept and a cool execution. What I really like is the creative use of different kinds of sensors (this creator uses a gas sensor in this case) to create something that’s actually very useful and could even save lives in some cases. We have something like this in my house back in Buffalo to alert us in case there are any dangerous chemicals in the air (’cause this tends to happen with REALLY old houses like mine). I think this would be really useful in many different situations because the software and hardware allow it to be tailored to the user’s needs. For example, our sensor is programmed to alert us with the most annoying high-pitched tone that literally sends my dog cowering under the couch. With technology like the pollutant-detecting arduino, I could choose what kind of alert I would like to set. I’m really inspired by creations like this that change my perspective completely. It makes me realize that we don’t always have to just accept what’s already out there – we have the tools to create something better for ourselves.


RGB combination door lock

Me + color = HAPPY

I want this! This definitely also falls under the same category as the gas-detecting mechanism I just talked about: I love the concept of creating technology and devices that are catered to your own personal goals, needs, and preferences. This creator made a keypad that, instead of typing in a boring old string of numbers, requires a password that is a specific string of colors. For someone who is visually inclined to a fault like myself, a gadget like this would be incredibly useful and wildly entertaining. If I can figure out where I can buy pretty, shiny buttons like in the picture, I would definitely like to try and make one of these for myself.


Laser Harp

WANT WANT WANT. This is just incredible. The creator connected the “harp” to a software synthesizer, and the sensors are laid out on the floor, as can be seen in the video. I most certainly enjoy the idea of digital intruments because it bends the rules of what you can do with them and expands the possibilities of the sounds they can produce (and I can’t break them as easily as real instruments). I think the only thing I would suggest to push the Laser Harp even further would be to have the color of the lasers respond to the sounds being produced. I guess that would depend on the actual build of the lasers themselves and their ability to change color. Regardless, I would definitely love to see the lasers changing color in time with the music.

Looking Outward 4

Looking Outwards — CHRISTINA.CONWAY @ 10:46 am

Digital Graffiti 



This is a digital spray can created to make work on digital canvases. The can even has a color changing feature that simply requires twisting the can’s bottom. Other features are the ability to change the caps and being able to change the digital spray. The can uses arduino, multiple sensor (like the force sensitive resistor we have in our kits), and bluetooth to wirelessly allow the user to make graffiti wihout moving from their computer screens.



Auto Ink



Though I feel no love for the conceptual background of the piece or the creators dramatic website banner, this project definitely caught my attention. Concept aside, the machine uses arduino and three step motors to recognize operator commands and then choses a random religious tattoo to put on whatever body part you’ve stuck into the machine. The strangest part of this for me is that a machine is what tattoos you. It makes me think of a time in the future when tattoo parlors are shaped like vending machines you stick a limb into. Its terrifying and funny at the same time.





Digigripper is a human sized LED display made into a game. The LED display is actually a mix of a memory game and a climbing wall. The participant watches the LEDs light up in the shapes of letters. They then may only climb on the LED dots that have lit up. If they step on an unlit dot then it “caves in.” I strongly appreciate interactive works like this that make the participant physically move.

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Looking Outwards — HANK.EHRENFRIED @ 4:50 am

Pixels by Jonas Vorwerk and Yoren Schriever is what appears to be a simple project but that’s the beauty of it. It’s so simple and fun. It’s approachable, interactive and colorful as well which is always a plus. I’m a big fan of the use of cubes in this project as well. The use of simple geometric shapes to build larger, more complex and interesting structures is something I’ve worked with in my own work so Pixels is of a real genuine interest to me. As if making weird, giant building blocks isn’t fantastic enough, to have them glow is just another plus.

Rael San Fratello‘s HEX curtain is incredible. It’s smooth, beautiful and very clean looking. The curtain is designed respond to natural daylight. Each piece of the curtain is connected so they will all open smoothly when exposed to daylight. When there is no daylight the curtain shuts. The claw like motion of the curtain is really great but even better are the shadows it creates. The odd hexagonal shape and different pieces makes for a really interesting light show on the walls of wherever this curtain is installed. I’d definitely be okay with a few of these in my home.

The Morpheus Tree looks like a must for anyone who is trying to optimize the time they have to sleep. I’m sure there are other ways to figure this sort of thing out but I doubt it will have a design as nice as the Morpheus Tree. It also seems easy to read to as well. And the interactivity is just enough for a person who has just woken up from what could have been too much, too little or just the right amount of sleep. It would be even cooler if it could do all the setup itself though.

Looking Outwards Arduino

Looking Outwards — NATHAN.TREVINO @ 4:36 am

Laser Harps?
Yes, laser harps. The blending of light, sound, and arduino is a sure win for the topic of “interesting”. This project is very interesting because of the application of light and human interaction. Almost everybody can wave in front or on top of a light and this idea was expanded from the ‘just messing around’ you do when a beam of light comes in through a window, to a, ‘holy shit’ this makes sounds when I wave my hand on it. that instant satisfaction and the fact that people will begin waving wildly and disregarding others is some of the main reason this is a successful artwork.

Maybe a little crazy but this is still something you want to look at. A man built a mini-house in his backyard and powered it with arduino. sick. It features a flickering fireplace and …. the reason i wrote about it… a magic mirror. It works off of an old computer and some salvaged LED’s. The ability to create something on a screen, but that does not resemble a screen at first is the draw, for me, to this project. I would love to just hang up a computer screen and work off an arduino and sensors to project images based on the input of proximity, heat, light, ect.

Not only is the arduino art, but the application of its power and precision is too. Slow Motion Camera? No problem. Arduino not only can take pictures at slow motion but the pictures themselves, created by this project are amazing. The versatility of arduino in everyday life is great. This project shows how the arduino can really hook and go. More than just something that lights led’s, projects like this make me see how much i can get out of the arduino.

Looking Outward 4-3

Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 2:37 am


Jeff Highsmith created an arcade game controlled by Arduino.  The game consists of two climbing dolls that hang onto the face of a toy mountain covered in a heavy fabric.  When the game begins the competitors race their climbers up the mountain by turning dials that cause the climbers arms and legs to rotate and simulate climbing.  The climbers are truly controlled by the competitors dials and they can travel off course by going sideways if the controller has not mastered the dial turing technique.  The game ends when the climber makes contact with the metal “snowcap” at the top of the mountain.  In this case, the Arduino is wired between the controlling dials and the arms and the legs of the climber.  This project is my favorite of the three that I have spoken about for the 4th Looking Outward Assignment.  It is an interesting use of the Arduino and one that I would not have thought possible.  Arduinos seem like such foreign technology but the more I see the more familiar and non threatening the Arduino becomes.


Watch the video HERE!

Looking Outward 4-2

Looking Outwards — SAMANTHA.OLESON @ 12:41 am

The Diffusable Clock by Mike Krumpus is an alarm clock controlled by an Arduino.  The alarm clock was modeled after the dynamite bombs from old movies with the sticks of dynamite, the curly red wires and the red numbered digital countdown.  The alarm has been programed to countdown to the time that the alarm was set at in the menacing and demanding fashion of a dynamite bomb.  as it gets nearer to time the beeps get louder and louder and more urgent and the idea of the alarm is that the person sleeping must defuse the bomb before it “goes off.”  I love the design of the alarm clock bomb.  Aesthetically, the setup of the piece and use of alternative materials to stand as the dynamite sticks is very clever and works well for the piece.  The use of the Arduino to control the alarm bomb is smart as well because the artist did not hide the Arduino within the alarm but rather chose to keep it exposed to function as a part of the design of the face of the clock.


Go HERE to see the clock on film!

Looking Outwards 4

Looking Outwards — JOLYN.SANDFORD @ 10:36 pm

Daft Punk – Thomas Helmet

Again with Volpin props! I just can’t help it, his stuff is super-inspiring. This time, I’m writing about his recreations of the Daft Punk helmets, which the electronic sound duo wear in their live performances. The first helmet above is actually the second he made; this is a replica of the helmet Thomas Bangalter wears. The LED visor is an array of LEDs that have a set of pre-programmed displays in an Arduino board within the helmet, which the wearer is able to flip in order to change them. By some magic or sorcery, you can actually see through the visor, which lets you wear the helmet even with the LEDs on. Some pretty fancy stuff!

Daft Punk – Guy Helmet

This helmet is modeled after the one that Guy Manuel wears, and was made first. It’s a pretty wicked deal, too – lots of wires follow the curve of the helmet in the back and connect to LEDs  in the front and on the ears. In addition to the rainbow LEDs in the front, there’s a pair of little EQ bars that light up randomly using an Arduino board. You can see out of this one, too! In addition to soldering and arranging all of the LEDs, Volpin molded and cast the body of the helmet, so he truly built it from scratch.


Botanicalls Video

This is a clever little idea that I think strikes that balance between aesthetic and usefulness very nicely. The Botanicall is a small device that you can stick inside a flowerpot. It detects light, temperature, and water levels within the pot for optimal growing conditions for the plant. The best part is, though, that if your plant gets knocked over, is too dry, too cold, too much in the shade, etc. etc., the Botanicall actually calls your phone or lets you know via Twitter that your plant would like a drink, or to be tipped back up. It’s an interesting way to use technology, especially how it connects to your social networking sites. Clever and cute!

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