Physical computing pioneer Tom Igoe describes the subject as “an approach to learning how humans communicate through computers that starts by considering how humans express themselves physically.” Rather than assume that the keyboard, mouse and screen will define how people interact with our exhibits
In physical computing, we take the human body as a given, and attempt to design within the limits of its expression. This means that we have to learn how a computer converts the changes in energy given off by our bodies, in the form of heat, light, sound, and so forth, into changing electronic signals that it can read and interpret. We learn about the sensors that do this, and about very simple computers, called microcontrollers, that read sensors and convert their output into data. Finally, we learn how microcontrollers communicate with other computers.
- Whitelaw, “Transduction, Transmateriality, and Expanded Computing,” The Teeming Void (3 May 2009).
- Igoe, “Digital Input and Output,” “Analog Input,” and “Balancing Input and Output” (Note that Igoe describes how to use a number of different microcontrollers, including PicBasic Pro and BX-24. Concentrate on his Arduino examples. Don’t worry about absorbing all the technical details: just try to understand the main points that he is making.)
- Arduino, “First Sketch” (for review)
- Arduino, “Digital Pins” and “Analog Input Pins“
In class we will be using the Seeed Studios electronic brick starter kit, which has a basic assortment of digital and analog input and output devices.
- Digital Read Serial
- Analog Read Serial
- Analog Input
- Tone (we’ll use the piezo buzzer electronic brick for audio output, rather than a speaker)
- Your choice: try to combine two or three elements in the kits to create a project of your own devising
- Seeed Studios, Electronic Bricks Cookbook, volume 1. We don’t have all of the components described in this booklet, but the Cookbook is a useful reference for the components that we do have.