Sketching with Hardware 2013

Auch im letzten Sommersemester durfte das Blockpraktikum „Sketching with Hardware“ nicht fehlen. Zwölf Studierende tauchten ein in die Welt der Elektronik und bauten sechs tolle interaktive Prototypen. An dieser Stelle finden Sie eine Zusammenfassung der Projekte. Sollten Sie sich für das Praktikum selbst oder ausführliche Projektbeschreibungen interessieren, besuchen Sie das eigene Blog von Sketching with Hardware.

Das Thema in diesem Jahr war „Reduce, Reuse, Recycle“ und eigentlich ziemlich simpel: Nimm dir etwas völlig Unbrauchbares, Altes und Kaputtes und verwandle es ein etwas völlig Neues und Zweckentfremdetes. Haben wir Ihr Interesse geweckt? Dann auf zu den Projekten:

The Real Dropbox

The Real Dropbox is a interactive scanning device directly connected to the users dropbox account. Initially the concept suggested further functionality such as implementing the ability to make phone calls using a skype account and a earphone. The goal was to produce something out of an idea, that could indeed be useful to someone. Even if it was only ourselves.

DJ Teddy

Fulfilling this year’s topic „Reuse, Reduce, Recycle“ we searched for some old, used stuff and found three things: An old teddy to reuse, a shopworn MP3-Player to recycle and finally (to reduce the amount of junk in our homes ;-)) an unused step machine, but what to do with those parts? Our first thoughts were „everybody likes music, everybody loves teddies and of course everybody would go crazy seeing his teddy dancing to his favourite music while motivating him with a step machine”. So our idea was born, a music playing teddy or as we named it: „DJ Teddy“. Some additional special effects should allow it to become the perfect entertainer on every party. In the end the final result surprised us and I promise, it will surprise you, too.

Melody Bakery

This project, „Melody Bakery“, was made from an old toaster. We equipped it with an Arduino Mega, took advantage of the toaster’s convenient, useful physique and transformed it into something totally different with completely new functionalities: A MIDI sequencer loop station, aka. „Melody Bakery“. This device can read a set of eight notes, making up two four-four times at the range of seven notes adding up to one whole octave. Furthermore, you can feed the toaster with a set of an instrument which the notes are to be played with and a background beat to make the produced music loop more enjoyable and usable for playing along with e.g. the bass or the guitar. The notes, instrument, and background loop can then be sent to an audio program on a connected PC.

Gameboy 0.5 beta

First of all, we needed something to work with. It was pretty clear that it would be most fun to take an old thing – whatever it would be – and make it behave in an unusual way. Luckily, we found this at a flea market: It says oscilloscope on it and was once used in medicine for graphing the human pulse. The oscilloscope consists of two main parts, the left side holding a revolving paper roll, a spring and mechanics to move the paper stripe. „Gameboy 0.5 beta“ – our idea of how gaming might have looked 100 years ago. We built an arcade game for the advanced. You don’t play one level, you play two. At the same time. With a joystick. The two needles are arranged vertically, so the game is split into an upper level and a lower level. The upper level is always the same, collect the golden coins by going over them and loose one each time you crash into a wall. The y-axis if the joystick directly maps to the position of the needle.

Walkman Remote


The idea we have chosen for our project started with a walkman: many of us have one at home and it is hard to throw it away, because it often has good childhood memories attached to it. On the other side a walkman has all controls that are needed to control a music player (Play/Pause, Next/Previous Song, etc.) so our plan was set: let’s build a remote for your computer’s music player that is inside an old walkman. It should contain all the basic functions needed for that: play/pause a song, switch between songs and adjust the volume.

The Workout Orb

The Workout Orb (formerly: Weather Orb Muscle Cool Trainer) is a device that allows you to keep track of the progress in your workout (such as lifting weights) as well as to improve its quality. It consists of a wristband worn near the elbow that measures the rotation and muscle activity of ones arm. It then sends this data to the Arduino and thus triggers the feedback in the second component, the actual orb. This component cosists of a translucent orb that is filled with water, which, when turned on, is nebulized to form mist. It is then illuminated by LEDs to give visual feedback. The orb also harbors a small piezo element that additionally allows feedback in the form of sounds an melodies.

Sketching with Hardware 2012 6/6 – GPS Box

In August, our workshop “Sketching with Hardware” took place for the 6th time. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Outdoor Electronics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience six extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 6, GPS Box! Have fun 🙂

When thinking of outdoors, one of the first things that came into our minds was GPS. We use it nearly constantly in our everyday activities – from locating your own position to finding the right directions to your goal. From this concept an idea started to form, and soon the GPS box was born.

What is it?

A box with a secret locked inside. The only way to reveal it is to bring the box to a specific location. Only then will the box open and allow you to access its contents.

The box lid is equipped with a distance meter (here the four LEDS), a needle and has a compass rose engraved on it. Once the box closes, the needle spins on itself and finally stops to point at the direction of the goal. As you walk, the less blink or turn off to signal when you are getting closer.

Overall, it is a very versatile object that can be put to several uses. One of them would be to use it for a sort of „inverses geocaching“, only instead of having to find a certain object, you have to bring the object to the location. Once you reach the destination, you can let to world know of your success, and then re-program the GPS coordinates for the next person to take up the challenge.
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Sketching with Hardware 2012 5/6 – PEO – Personal Energy Orb

In August, our workshop “Sketching with Hardware” took place for the 6th time. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Outdoor Electronics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience six extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 5, PEO – Personal Energy Orb! Have fun 🙂

PEO is a little energy device that limits your computer usage time to a value generated from the distance you traveled with your bicycle in advance. It raises awareness for the amount of time spent in front of computers nowadays and forces its users to seek physical exercise in compensation for their „screen hours“.

The Idea

the concept poster

The excessive use of computers is a common problem in todays connected world. Many jobs require the use of personal computers throughout the work day and also our spare time is frequently spent at home in front of computers or similar technical devices, whereas our time spent on physical activities decreases. This can lead to a lack of social interaction and can ultimately cause health problems.

While it is not possible to simply reduce the time of computer use for anyone, e.g. computer scientists, a way of mitigating this problem is to find the right balance between computer use and physical exercise. However, as is generally known, regular sportive activities require a certain level of self-control, therefore our idea was to create something that supports people with keeping that balance between computer use and being outside and doing sports.

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Sketching with Hardware 2012 4/6 – Energy Fight

In August, our workshop “Sketching with Hardware” took place for the 6th time. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Outdoor Electronics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience six extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 4, Energy Fight! Have fun 🙂

Energy Awareness

Nowadays fossile energy sources are exploited to the farthest extent and the need for alternative ways of energy production is urgent. The awareness of new and clean forms of energy is an important issue, that already the youngest members of our society should be given an understanding of. This is why we have developed a concept of achieving a higher energy awareness for children in a playful manner.

   

What is it?

Enery Fight is a game that increases energy awareness. It illustrates different possibilities to produce energy. The produced energy is used to manipulate the game board, which is a circle shaped acrylic glass panel, placed on top of the Engergy Fight box. To start the game you place a small ball in the centre of the board.

The two players battle each other by producing energy on the four sides of the box to get the ball into the hole on their side of the game board. The two ways to produce energy are wind, created by blowing into a wind wheel, and motion energy, by cranking a wooden wheel on the side of the box.

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Sketching with Hardware 5/5: Glowworm Love

In March, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of our workshop “Sketching with Hardware”. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Bionics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience five extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 5, Glowworm Love!

What is it?

„Glowworm Love“ is an ambient room light, consisting of 4 individually colored artificial glowworms. These worms can be combined by bringing two glowworm bodies together. If they like each other, they will mix their color and produce a new color. They will keep this new color even after splitting them again.

This way the user can produce many different colors and create different moods within the room by playfully combining the glowworm lights.

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Sketching with Hardware 4/5: Blowfish

In March, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of our workshop “Sketching with Hardware”. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Bionics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience five extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 4, Blowfish!

What is it?

This years theme in „Sketching with Hardware“ was Bionics. Consequently, the task was to rebuild or reuse a natural and biological method. Our team decided to imitate the behavior of Tetraodontidae – that’s the family of fish with the ability to inflate their body to a ball-like shape in order to defend itself. In an outburst of pure creativity, we named our prototype Blowfish!

Blowfish is designed to puff up when users come too close or are too loud. Somebody clapping hands loudly will find Blowfish doubling its surface. As puffers don’t like people coming too close, Blowfish inflates if one approaches it’s face.

To put it in a nutshell, Blowfish is an ambient display visualizing noise and distance in a striking way. Just put it in one of your room’s corner and you’ll always know whether or not your shouts about an exiting soccer game will disturb your neighbors.

[ Skip to Video-Demonstration ]

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Sketching with Hardware 3/5: FrettyFlytrap

In March, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of our workshop “Sketching with Hardware”. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Bionics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience five extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 3, FrettyFlytrap!

by Michael Konrad and Clara Lüling

lueling@cip.ifi.lmu.de

What is FrettyFlytrap?

Natural model for FrettyFlytrap is the venus flytrap, a carnivorous plant that is domiciled in a narrowly restricted spread-area in the USA. It catches and digests animal prey – mostly insects. Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap closes if a different hair is contacted within twenty seconds of the first strike.
[Source: Wikipedia]

Natural model: Venus Flytrap
(Source: stock.xchng)

In contrast to the real flytrap, FrettyFlytrap isn’t just a plant that has primitive needs like food, but also has some human-like feelings: it seeks for love and fondness, and if it gets no food or if it is provoked, it probably shows its angry side.

How can FrettyFlytrap express its feelings? For the one thing, LEDs on the top of the plant’s head show its mood. Red LEDs signalize a critical state, green LEDs show that the plant is satisfied. A further indication is given by the plant’s mouth: If it is open, the plant is hungry and thus impatient or was recently provoked by being touched at its teeth. If you want to treat FrettyFlytrap well, you can tickle it under the chin, and you will see that FrettyFlytrap rotates its leaf, which is a sure sign that it enjoys your treatment.

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Sketching with Hardware 2/5: Like a Bird

In March, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of our workshop “Sketching with Hardware”. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was  ”Bionics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience five extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 2, Like a Bird!

by Marion Koelle and Marius Hoggenmüller

{lastname}@cip.ifi.lmu.de

The bionic paradigm?

Birds have a sophisticated technique to survive the frigid temperatures of winter. They possess a dense coat of feathers which can be puffed out to trap little pockets of air close to the bird’s body. These airpockets insulate the bird’s body and protect it from excessive heat loss. With this technology birds can sustain their body temperature of approx. 40° C even at extreme frost! At chilly temperatures they therefore often look like small fuzzy featherballs (see figure 1).

sparrow in winter
Figure 1: Sparrow with puffed up feathers

[Daniel Lingehöhl: Vogelwelt im Wandel – Trends und Perspektiven. 2010. Wiley VCH Verlag GmbH.]

[Image source: http://www.sxc.hu]

What is it?

For our project we adopted the birds‘ anti-freezing technique and integrated it in an environment-aware interactive headpiece – at first glance: a simple, every-day bobble hat.

The basic principle is very simple: if the ambient temperature drops below a certain value or the user feels cold the heat-insulating functionality of the hat is activated and the ‚feathers‘ of the hat are puffed out. The hat’s control system involves two modes, one based on the sensing of the ambient temperature and another one which is based on user-input via a touch-slider located at the hat’s brim .  It is possible to switch between modes by turning the hat’s bobble.

How does it work?

Build-up

The skeletal structure of the headpiece consists of two rows of inflatable ‚feathers‘ made from a customary air mattress, which are comprised by a cover made from felt  (see figure 2).  If the compressor is turned on the air takes its way through a system of flexible plastic tubes located at the hat’s back and bloats the inflatable pieces which causes the hat to puff up.

Build-up 1Build-up
Figure 2: Inflatable ‚feathers‘ and felt cover

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Sketching with Hardware 1/5: AmbiLEON

In March, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of our workshop „Sketching with Hardware“. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was  „Bionics“. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience five extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 1, the AmbiLEON!

by Frederick Himperlich und Tanja Neumeyer

{lastname}@cip.ifi.lmu.de

What is it?

When you look at the chameleon in the picture, you see an animal climbing a tree having a green body and a red head.
Chamaeleon
If it’s trying to hide itself, it definitely failed!

During our research in bionics we learned about chameleons that they use their ability to change color not only for hiding but as a reaction to their surroundings. We were ecstatic about this fact and wanted to use this in our project.

Group Ambileon 1

Changing colors is the essential thing about our AmbiLEON-Prototype. Our idea was to develop a kind of lamp which creates ambient light in not static or random colors but in colors which express certain states or happenings.

How does it work?

When we began to build AmbiLEON, we knew the most important things were the RGB-LED-lights.

To create a random color with a RGB-LED you need 1 digital output for every color so three outputs for one LED-Strip. Since we wanted to use many LED lights, more than the ArduinoUNO could handle, we decided to use the Arduino Mega with a total of 14 PWM digital outputs Since the LED-Strips need a 12 V power supply we used transistors to control the 12V LEDs with the 5V digital output.

Now the base was given to let AmbiLEON change its color. The most important ability of our prototype was camouflage. To make that possible we needed the Ambileon to “see” its surroundings. For that we added a Camera to the Ambileon and wrote a little C# app that did the capturing. The captured camera pictures are separated in four columns (one column for each LED-strip), for each coloumn the average color is calculated and send back over serial port to the ArduinoMEGA which changes each LED-strip’s color accordingly.

The Ambileon
Image 1: Camouflage mode

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Sketching with Hardware: Multisensorik und Multimodalität

Im Sommersemester 2011 fand zum vierten Mal das Blockpraktikum „Sketching With Hardware“ statt: Sechs Teams mit je zwei Mitgliedern gaben acht Tage lang alles, um bei der finalen Präsentation einen bleibenden Eindruck zu hinterlassen. Der Kurs bot zunächst eine Einführung in die Welt der Elektronik. Wir betrachteten Bauteile wie Widerstände oder Kondensatoren und behandelten Grundlagen wie Löten oder das Lesen von Datenblättern. Außerdem beschäftigten wir uns mit dem Herzstück der späteren Prototypen, dem Arduino, einer Platform für einen einfachen Start in die Welt des Hardware-Prototypings.

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

Die zweite Phase war von Brainstorming und Konzeptentwicklung bestimmt. Die Teilnehmer arbeiteten an Ideen und Plänen für ihre späteren Prototypen.

Dann ging es in die heiße Phase der Umsetzung. Fünf Tage lang wurde ausprobiert, verworfen, geschwitzt und geflucht. Doch vor allem wurde der Kurs von enormer Kreativität und schier endlosem Durchhaltevermögen geprägt. Die Ergebnisse können sich jedenfalls sehen lassen! Weitere Eindrücke und genaue Beschreibungen der Prototypen finden sich auf dem Blog des Praktikums. Vielen Dank an alle Teilnehmer!