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physical computing

Metal-Head Goat Skull

Metal-Head Goat Skull

This is the goat skull that was part of the physical computing final project. Inside its sinuses is a halogen bulb hooked up to a relay. He really lit up the room!

Wireless Sensor Networks

I've been looking into a number of possibilities for wireless sensor networks, tiny little bugs called motes hiding in corners of who-knows-where collecting who-knows-what kind of data. Imagine the kinds of fun we could have at Parsons with this stuff!

So far, I'm most impressed by moteiv and their Tmote Sky motes. For $78 a pop (bulk order), you get a USB stick-like board with built-in temperature, humidity, and light (both in visible range and up to IR.) There's an antennae attached to each of them, and they all talk to each other over ZigBee and run on the open-source TinyOS. Sweet!

Audio Graffiti

For my midterm project, I hacked the sink in our 10th-floor bathroom.

The sink had an IR sensor with an exposed control box. I cracked that open, split off the power and sensor-data lines, and got it trigger a light show under the sink and play a sound sample from a speaker I attached under the porcelain. I left a record button hooked up to it, and, pretty soon, people were recording their own strange sounds and messages that would play every time someone went to wash their hands.

Enter The Dragon

For our physical computing final, each pair of students had to complete a link in a chain reaction, receiving an input from the previous team and producing an output for the next team.

Here's our AC/DC-playing, silver-painted-goat-skull, black-polycarbonate dragon. Our only design consideration: Make It Metal!

Journal Square Deli - The Restaurant Telegraph

Journal Square Deli - The Restaurant Telegraph

The ultimate in deli interventions--the Restaurant Telegraph! Each half is place on a separate table. The switch lights up the lamp and sets off a sound. Cool, though much more fun in bars than in the Journal Square Deli, as it turned out.

Attached is the SVG file for the labels, in case anyone wants to repeat the experiment.

Stompy City

Stompy City is a physical computing/processing application that uses a serial interface to create a city based on the user's stomping on the ground. Fun! (But you can't play the applet over the internet, because it uses serial and a custom device!)

View Stompy City.


So, I saw Cameron B's Electrosketch project at dorkbot tonight. Really, really cool stuff. Inexpensive, but really engrossing and with a lot of depth to it. A Sharpie with an infrared LED is tracked by a hacked webcam that has its IR filter removed and a piece of 35mm exposed film put in its place. The computer, running proce55ing, locates the pen and generates vertices in OpenGL that form strands. The strands formed these great different shapes depending on the direction in which the vertices were generated, which was controlled by a custom box hooked up to serial.

Machinima Design Jam

Inti Einhorn, Becky Heritage and I put together a crrrrazy physical-computing piece that uses clips pulled from the Sims game to re-enacted the famous (or infamous) Milgram experiment.

Here is a brief clip of what we have:

Extracurricular Activities

It's not just about what happens in class. Lots of good things going down all the time. I've been involved in:

  • Student Teaching: I ran several workshop sessions on various topics, such as:
    • Basic Python
    • RSS for Podcasting
    • Python and PyHP
  • 24-Hour Machinima Design Jam: Rough stuff, but well worth the effort.

Creativity and Computation

Theory with Sven. Really fun, wide range of assignments, and we get to make podcasts and other weird stuff! Check out some of my work so far:

Copyright Mike Edwards 2006-2009. All content available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, unless otherwise noted.

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