After discovering capacitive touch interactions with a Makey Makey device and an Arduino Leonardo, Jason Eldred realized it could also be used to control the Unity game engine. After a night of hacking, he had a basic interface that could change the scale of a virtual circle. From there, he teamed up with Alex L. Bennett to produce an art installation called Bee that invited users to interact with it by physically touching a panel to change graphics on the panel itself and a screen in front of them.
While not meant as a game per se, after more experimentation including work by Gabe Miller and Dustin Williams, this interactive display method was finally turned into a virtual air hockey table via a giant crisscrossing grid of copper tape and wires.
Maker “cool austin” is a fan of water speakers, which pulse jets of water inside plastic enclosures to the beat of your music, but thought they could be improved.
What he came up with is a multi-tower setup that not only dances with light and water to the beat of the music playing, but splits up the pulses into frequencies a la a VU meter.
The project uses an Arduino Mega—chosen because it has sufficient PWM outputs to control the water and lights in five of these enclosures via MOSFETs—to output signals to the water units for an excellent audio-visual display.
Water speakers from the store are great to watch, but I felt they could do more. So many years ago I had modified a set to show the frequency of music playing. At the time I used the Color Organ Triple Deluxe II, combined with a set of photocells potentiometers and transistors I was able to get a set of 3 speakers to function.
I then a few years ago had heard about the IC MSGEQ7 which has the ability to separate audio into 7 data values for an Arduino to read. I utilize an Arduino mega 2560 in this project because it has the required number of PWM pins to drive five water towers.
While the Nintendo Wii has been on the market for well over 10 years, its controllers continue to provide a variety of tools for hacking. One component you may want to consider for your next hack is the camera from the Wii Remote, which senses the position of nearby infrared light spots and outputs them as X/Y coordinates via I²C.
While that may instantly set off multiple use ideas, if you need inspiration, be sure to check out this setup by Jack Carter. He mounted one of these cameras to the top of a computer screen, and uses it to track an IR LED mounted to the top of his headset.
From there, an Arduino Uno translates this information as joystick inputs to the computer, which is then configured to control an in-game camera as seen in the video here.
If you think Furbies have become extinct, think again, as musical hacker “Look Mum No Computer” has decided to revive a number of them to create his own Furby Organ.
To make this horrifying yet awesome instrument, he placed 44—yes, 44—of these strange creatures on top of an organ frame with a keyboard and several dials, along with a switch labeled ominously as “collective awakening.”
Each individual Furby is controlled by two Arduino Nano boards, and as you might imagine, the whole project took a massive amount of work to wire things together. You can see the incredible results in the first video below, while the second gives a bit more background on the device’s origin.
While he opted to construct it in a 1:2 scale, it’s still an impressive physical build, looking comically large, but not entirely unwieldy as a full-sized 8-foot blaster would have been.
Inside, sound and lighting effects are controlled by an Arduino, which plays clips from the show and flashes in different patterns via an Adafruit sound board and RGB LED strip.
I wanted the blaster to play sounds and have lights come out of the barrel so I rigged up an Arduino Nano with an Adafruit sound board and amp that would cycle blaster sounds and lights when a button was pressed. And because there’s always more than meets the eye, I had a separate button that played just Transformers sound clips. To defuse the LED strip when the lights fired, I printed a semi-translucent disc that would stand-off from the sides so that sound could still escape, but the light would be diffused. I decided to mount all of the audio components in the barrel so that the cannon could be taken apart to charge the battery back.
One pours water into a glass to turn the radio on. Channels can then be changed by transferring water from one glass into the other, and fine-tuned by touching the outside of container. Volume can even be adjusted by poking a finger into the water itself.
An Arduino Leonardo is used to pick up capacitive signals, and data is then sent a computer where a program called Wekinator decodes user interactions.
Pour Reception is a playful radio that strives to challenge our cultural understanding of what an interface is and can be. By using capacitive sensing and machine learning, two glasses of water are turned into a digital material for the user to explore and appropriate.
The design materials that we have available when designing digital artifacts expands along with the technological development, and with the computational machinery it is possible to augment our physical world in ways that challenges our perceptions of the objects we interact with. In this project, we aim to change the users perception of what a glass is – both cultural and technical.