Tag Archives: Creative Applications

This mesmerizing exhibit explores the gap between analog and digital

This installation represents the basic components of computer graphics: the vertex and the edge.

Created by Oslo-based design studio Void, Irregular Polyhedron Study #1 is a physical representation of the very basic components of computer graphic, the vertex and the edge. The mesmerizing installation by Bjørn Gunnar Staal and Joakim Hoen explores the perceptual gap between the flat and the spacious, the analog and the digital, and addresses the inquiry of “When does a collection of arbitrary connected lines start to read as a volume? Does this perception change when the shape is altered?”


The project was a site-specific installation created for the window gallery Kungstensgatan 27 in Stockholm, which ran from November 2014 through February 2015. The exhibit itself consisted of a wireframe polyhedron made from black elastic bands that was strung up by fishing line and connected to nine stepper motors. As Creative Applications reveals, these steppers were controlled by five Atmel based Arduino boards and Adafruit Motor Shields, and an openFrameworks application simulating the overall motion scheme.


“The shape’s behavior became an erratic combination of several layers of noise and randomness combined with the occasional kick back from the steppers giving in to the overall tension in the shape,” Void explains. “A conscious choice was made not to avoid this behavior (it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!) and rather have it add to the uncanny nervousness and personality of the sculpture.”


The geometry was generated using Rhino, grasshopper and Kangaroo as an optimal compromise between the dimensions of the room, possible placements of motors and the directional vectors of tension towards each vertex. This model was then exported for physics simulation in openFrameworks and numbered measurements for cutting and connecting physical pieces of string.

Intrigued? Not only can you watch the exhibit in action below, you can read all about it on Creative Applications here.

Attachment is a modern-day message in a bottle

Balloon messages could perhaps be likened to a new form of the classic message in a bottle. Created by ECAL graduate David Colombini, Attachment is an ATmega1280 powered, poetic machine that enables you to send text, images or videos into the air using a biodegradable balloon with the intention of “rediscovering expectation, the random, and the unexpected,” uncommonly found in current means of communication.


Upon entering your name and e-mail, the site allows you to send a message and attach a picture, sound, or video. Once your content is validated, the machine prints the message and a code on an A6 sheet of paper, slips it into a biopolymer cylinder attached to a balloon, which is released into the air. The balloon then travels haphazardly to a potential recipient.


At some point, someone somewhere will find it. When they do, that individual can connect to the website and enter the secret password on the message to discover the text, the image or video in its entirety.

As Colombini notes, the [megaAVR based] project originally began as a stand against today’s “smart” technologies. “I have always been attracted by what is in the air and remember having won a balloon release contest when I was about ten years old. My balloon flew from Switzerland to Austria, this definitely left an impression on me and perhaps influenced the idea of this project.”


The poetic machine is driven by an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280), a PRismino (a mini shield specially developed for the machine to control the IR sensors), four 12V motors, a 450w power supply, a number of IR captors and a specifically-built Veroboard for the machine to control the electronics.

Colombini also selected a mini A4 printer (Canon PIXMA iP100), which he hacked for A6 files, along with several clips to close the ballon, a bunch of 90 cm diameter biodegradable balloons, a series of tubes and covers, and a Mac Mini to run the processing script.


In addition, Creative Applications reveals the modern-day message in a bottle includes five pneumatic valves to control the five pneumatic cylinders, an air compressor, a 5L helium bottle, digital air and helium pressure sensors, two valves to control the in/out of the air or helium, one Manometer, and a DHEB.

As the machine will be installed outside, Colombini is looking to work with the Association for the Development of Renewable Energies in Lausanne to power the machine with solar energy.

So, be sure to keep an eye out because a secret message may be on its way! If interested in learning more or sending a poetic passage of your own, you can fly on over to Attachment’s official page here.


Arduino-based turntable uses toy blocks to build beats

Watch out Tiesto! With simple designs like this being thought of by Makers across the globe, a new wave of DJs is on the way.

A Swedish designer by the name of Per Holquimst is redefining the use of the old-school turntable. No longer will the instrument solely play music; in fact, his Arduino-based tangible interface turntable will have you forming beats from scratch in no time!


As a graduate student at Beckman’s College of Design in Sweden, Holquimst created the Beat Blox to enable anyone — from a child to an experienced DJ — to reinterpret the way they make music and sounds. Even though the device looks like it was created by a Swedish furniture store, the device will allow music to be assembled with ease.


How does it work? Each machine contains five digital distance sensors in its wooden arm. The instrument can analyze up to 15 different blocks, therefore allowing complex rhythms to be established. These sensors interpret the locations of the blocks and relay that data back through the Atmel MCU powered system, making music based on certain pre-programmed metrics. As the user adds a block to the deck, the distance sensor plays a sound; thus, creating a wildly different melody is as simple as moving a block an inch to the left on the rotating wheel.

This tangible interface instrument is an ideal tool to teach children about sound patterns and musical theories. Holmquist himself notes that Beat Blox is “an interactive music machine that offers free creative expression without requiring prior knowledge.”

In what may be just as entertaining as the giant floor piano at FAO Schwartz, this innovative device uses tangible interface technology and motion sensors to turn child’s play into music.