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.
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.
When tasked with converting an antique pump organ—sort of a miniature version of a full-sized pipe organ—into part of an escape room puzzle, hacker Alec Smecher decided to turn it into a vocal MIDI device.
To accomplish this, he embedded switches in each of the keys, then wired them into an Arduino Leonardo embedded in the 100-year-old organ to act as input to a desktop computer. Information is translated into browser commands using the Web MIDI API, which controls the Pink Trombone application in order to imitate a human vocal tract.
A common stop on an organ is called “Vox Humana”, or “Human Voice” in Latin. This is supposed to somehow sound like a choir or soloist, generally by adding a tremolo effect. It’s not effective — all pump organ stops sound like pump organ stops. I wanted to modify this stop so that engaging it would sound like a human voice — and not at all like a musical instrument.
The results–shown in the first video below–sound almost but not quite human, certainly adding to the tension and mystery of the escape room. Be sure to read more about Smecher’s project here.
While keyboards are great, and custom shortcuts can make things even better, why not do away with buttons and knobs altogether, controlling your computer instead via simple gestures? Maker Ben James has done just this, creating a unique interface using a Skywriter device to pick up finger movements, along with an Arduino Leonardo to emulate a keyboard on his laptop.
Since the Skywriter can detect a number of gestures, James assigned various swipes, taps and circular motions to keyboard commands. As you can see in the video here, the results are pretty neat.
If you’re faced with a closet that doesn’t have any lights inside, you simply could go and find puck lights at most retail stores. But, if you’re Dillon Nichols, you buy a set of lights, and enhance them with a wired power supply and automatic Arduino control.
To accomplish this, Nichols decoded the infrared remote control signal to his puck lights using an Arduino Leonardo, then set up things up to sense the door’s opening via a physical switch and signal the lights accordingly. Now when he opens the closet, lights automatically shine down and fade out when it’s closed.
Mechanical typewriters are, for the most part, a thing of the past. Though the tactile feedback of these machines is interesting, as is the ability to directly mark on a piece of paper, they lack the important ability to input instructions into a modern computer. Konstantin Schauwecker, not satisfied with this analog-only output, decided to retrofit a German Olympia Monica typewriter as a unique digital user input device.
To accomplish this, he created a PCB with phototransistors that sense when the linkages for each key are pushed down. The result is a keyboard that functions perfectly well as a manual typewriter, and pushes this data to a computer using an Arduino Leonardo.
I modified a vintage type writer to function as a USB keyboard using an Arduino and 50 phototransistors. The typewriter is a German Olympia Monica that I bought at a local flea market. For this project I created a simple PCB that carries the phototransistors and several multiplexers and decoders. The PCB is connected to the Arduino through a ribbon cable. I used an Arduino Leonardo, which can function as a USB input device.