Posts tagged 'Hardware'

No-glue paper creations

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

MakeDo structureFollowing up on my post about no-code iPhone UI prototypes, I thought I should share something for making tangible stuff. This blog isn’t just about software or electronics, it is about discussing and sharing tools that lower the barrier to creative communication, and bring it within the reach of anyone with imagination. With that in mind I present MakeDo, a system for um.. building things.


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Rolling through the dial with Radioball

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Teague's RadioballI usually prefer to write about tools, processes and methods here, but when I see a project that so completely exemplifies the values and priorities within a design process, I just can’t help but want to share it. Teague’s RadioBall is one of those projects. Go ahead and watch the video after the jump:
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Sketching in Hardware 2008

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Sketching in Hardware (“a summit on the design and use of physical computing toolkits”) returns for 2008. This year the event comes to the east coast, where it will be held at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Sketching in Hardware 3

Sketching in Hardware 2007

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Sketching in Hardware continues in 2007. This year’s theme is ‘Boundary Conditions’:

Through discussion, experience and sketching we will examine the boundaries in developing physical computing: boundaries between components, between standards, between making objects and creating experiences, between cost and sustainability, between the expected and the unorthodox, and between creator and toolkit.

Sketching in Hardware is sponsored by ThingM and Tellart


Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Scratch InstructionsThe Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab has released Scratch, a new graphical programming environment designed to teach fundamental aspects of computer programming in a fun and easy-to-understand way. Kids can create games or stories while learning basic concepts of logic and programming.

The community aspect of Scratch is cool as well – because the environment is java-based, kids can upload their creations to the scratch website and comment on each other’s creations. I’m interested in seeing if the sharing aspect of scratch can elevate to the next level, where kids can complete a series of tutorials in order to learn more advanced capabilities of the system. If the satisfaction of completing a programming challenge was as satisfying as completing a level in a video game, kids’ investment in Scratch might continue beyond the academic user-testing-group and community-outreach testing environment that it no doubt was born in.

Scratch can also be controlled by a custom hardware controller, allowing kids to create projects that are controlled by a slider, button, light sensor or microphone.

Scratch Website
SEE ALSO : Lego Mindstorms NXT

Siemens learns about efficiency from Video Games

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Businessweek has an article by Reena Jana on a new design tool that focuses on game-like usability to increase productivity. The Game Engine Modelling system, developed by Rich McDaniel for Siemens, uses game engine graphics and physics modelling to aid factory-automation designers in designing more efficient factories.

GEM achieves this time-savings with the help of an easy-to-use editing tool that allows designers to select from a library of shapes, physics attributes, and other elements from a simple drop-down Windows menu. They can also type in specifics to match real-world measurements and actions. [...] Workers training with GEM software navigate just as they would a PC game, using commands and keys that correspond with on-screen movement

There is one detail in the article that stood out for me that I felt that Jana touched on but didn’t give the attention I thought it deserved: While simulation systems are in wide use in the automotive and aerospace industries, where tolerances and safety concerns demand it and budgets allow it, with this project what Siemens is really doing is developing a simulation technology for the masses. This ‘democratization of simulation’ will open up new markets in mid- and small-scale factory operations that might otherwise not have been able to afford Siemens’ services. Much of what I wrtie about on this site is ephemeral or pie-in-the-sky, but if this project bears out, it will be a great example of ‘sketching’ technology enabling people to create real value on an industry-wide scale. : Siemens’ New Game Strategy

Plug and Play Hardware Prototyping

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006 is a combination hardware and software system that makes prototyping hardware interfaces fast and easy. With it, inexperienced test subjects were able to re-create an ipod interface in a half hour. The fact that subjects without training in electronics or software development can achieve so much with this tool is extraordinary. What stands out most about this system is that it is generalized (you can create any combination of inputs and interface elements) and specific (intended for use in designing electronic product interfaces.) Like many of the tools I’ve written about,’ insistence on not being everything to everybody, while maintaining a broad enough feature set to be a useful tool for rapid ideation is a strength. While interfaces developed using may not be tightly integrated into a development process, I can only imagine that when using it as a system for validating ideas and testing multiple solutions could solve many problems down the road in product development.

Some recent developments in the system are particularly exciting to me: I was exctied to see new support for Arduino, Phidgets and Wiring. The system was also on display at the 2006 Maker Faire in San Francisco, and a new hardware design (left) has been developed, which means that it lives on. was developed at the Stanford HCI Group.

Sketching in Hardware Conference

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

The Sketching in Hardware Conference just wrapped up.

From the conference description:

Rapid prototyping of information processing devices offers a new way of creating technology for industrial design, experience design and technological creative expression. Sketching in Hardware 1 will bring together a select group of people intimately involved in this field to discuss the ideas, methods, challenges and potential of these technologies.

I’m interested to hear about what went down at the Henry Ford Museum this week. I suppose the rest of us will have to wait for the blog posts to percolate. For now, we’ll just have to look at the flickr pool and wonder.

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Dynamic Physical Rendering

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

Check out this video. It’s a concept video that ETC students produced to demonstrate applications for Dynamic Physical Rendering, an Intel-funded research effort to develop ‘programmable matter’, technology for creating self-constructing 3D objects on the fly.Watching the video, I imagine the car designers offing themselves in their garages after their work is literally squashed and warped at the whim of a CEO. Regardless, assuming that something like this will become viable in the coming decades, I am interested to see the ‘software’ interface that enables you to reshape a 3D model by manipulating a physical object itself. When the corporate flunkie in the video tucks and shapes the car, how are they controlling what points on the model they are manipulating, or what tool they are using? Will a second input device be needed, or can the ‘claytronics’ hardware shape and color itself into a ‘hard’ software UI?

From an Interaction Design angle, this seems like the hardware analogue to Jeff Han’s Multi-Touch Interaction Research at MRL and other research at MIT’s Tangible Media Group and that the marriage of multi-touch and gestural interaction methods with dynamic physical rendering will open up stunning new methods of creating and shaping physical objects with human hands.

In the meantime, I wonder whether we aren’t better off just teaching people how to sculpt rather than creating advanced tools that do essentially the same thing?

Lego Mindstorms NXT

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Lego 3D Chocolate Printer

I can’t say it any better than the Mindstorms FAQ:

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is a robotics toolset that provides endless opportunities for armchair inventors, robotics fanatics and LEGO builders ages 10 and older to build and program robots that do what they want.

Lego Mindstorms allows you to build machines using Lego’s classic TECHNIC bricks, but adds the ability to easily program your robot to respond to its own environment. You can build a robot, then using Lego’s development environment and programmable ‘brick’ microcontroller, teach it how to follow a path, avoid obstacles, pick up and move objects or any other number of actions. Lego is leveraging its fan base in developing new projects and applications for the system, and has a website set up for sharing new projects. Many schools, from high school all the way up to the top engineering schools in the world already use Mindstorms in their curriculum, so in addition to being a low-cost hardware prototyping system build on standard components, a generation of engineering students is being trained with the system and is becoming very facile with it.

A Mindstorms program created using the custom editor
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