Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Arduino, and Processing, and Inkscape, Oh My!

Have you ever spent so much time thinking about something that you dream about it?  That is what has happened to me.  I spend so much of my "down time" thinking about interactive exhibit design (and how I should be blogging about it more often) that it has started to invade my subconscious.  The other night I dreamed about sitting in my interactive exhibit design class with all my public history cohorts.  They all knew what they were doing, and how they were doing it, but I was completely lost.  I was frustrated and disappointed, but then Joey Fatone showed up and told me to "Keep at it!"  (Why Joey Fatone - I have no idea.  I guess I need to stop watching Rachel vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off before I go to bed.)

"You can do it!"

Subconscious or not, it was good advice (and clearly motivated me to finally get back to blogging.)  So more of my weekends have been devoted to playing around with the programs we are learning about in class.  In my first Arduino post, I talked about how Adriana and I figured out how to turn lights on and off.  In our next class, we had the chance to play around with different inputs or sensors.  Using a potentiometer as an analog input we were able to control the speed at which our light blinked.

Next, we learned the Processing computer language.  This is an open source programming language for creating images, animations, and interactions.  Using this Adriana and I drew (and colored) some images and simple animations.

We started to draw this alien guy a friend
but ran out of time!

Our next class had us playing around with vector representations using an open source program called Inkscape.  We worked through some tutorials, and played around with different drawings.  Over the weekend I worked on recreating this guy:

It was snowing this weekend
so I made a snowman!

You may have noticed that all of the programs we have worked with so far are open source, so that makes them very cost effective to use.  Even the hardware associated with the Arduino isn't terribly expensive.  This becomes important when you think about developing exhibits for non-profit organizations with limited resources.

So how does this all relate to my baseball exhibit idea?  Well, I'm still doing a little research on that, but there will be another post soon to talk about my progress there.  In the meantime, you can check out some of the projects my friends are working on: Lindsay and Adriana's Immigrant Suitcase, Laura and Sushima's Lego Hollywood Squares, Adrian's Talking Money, Michael's 1812 Twitter project, Hilary's Ninja Historian animated short, and though I'm not sure what her class project is Sarah is doing some really cool stuff on her blog!

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