This week, after two weeks of brainstorming and idea generation, we have started to look for more concrete ways to connect the Internet to a particular object. It’s such a fascinating process how digital data can, for instance, move a physical object or activate a particular mechanism. All this requires joining two different worlds such as computer programming and electronics, a gap that can be unified thanks to one little device called Arduino.
In essence, Arduino is a board with a microcontroller that can receive different kinds of inputs from a wide range of sensors, and then generate an output, such as controlling lights, motors and basically whatever you can possibly think can be plugged in. This allows us to send Internet data into an object and control it according to that data.
Those of us less experienced with physical computing have taken some time to learn not only how the board works but also the necessary coding which runs it. It’s in this context of first contact with this platform where we have created some small machinery (from a blinking led to a monkey toy which throws bananas on switching on a button). Maybe these little experiments won’t be related to our final product but definitely they make a difference in our understanding of Arduino and the different uses and possibilities that the technology offers.
Photograph: London Hackspace
Our research this week has been mainly in this practical vein, although we have also found time to do some field research. We visited the workshop at Hackspace in Shoreditch (lately we always seem to go to the same area no matter the reason) - a truly unique place where you can find 3D printers, a workshop area with lots of tools among which stands out a laser cutter, retro videogames… simply a geek paradise. The main part of it though is the community of developers and designers that are using this space to exchange knowledge and help each other.
We are pretty excited about how our project is starting to take shape and quite sure that Arduino is going to play an important role on it — and, as the coding gets more and more confusing, most probably the smart folks at Hackspace as well.