Physical Computing (Research)

For this project, we are asked to explore the use of a sensor system which allows the user to control media using gestures or other sensed activity. I used Arduino Uno for this project.

What is Physical Computing?

Physical Computing is an approach to learning how humans communicate through computers that starts by considering how humans express themselves physically. A lot of beginning computer interface design instruction takes the computer hardware for given — namely, that there is a keyboard, a screen, perhaps speakers, and a mouse — and concentrates on teaching the software necessary to design within those boundaries. In physical computing, we take the human body as a given, and attempt to design within the limits of its expression.

This means that we have to learn how a computer converts the changes in energy given off by our bodies, in the form of heat, light, sound, and so forth, into changing electronic signals that it can read interpret. We learn about the sensors that do this, and about very simple computers, called microcontrollers, that read sensors and convert their output into data. Finally, we learn how microcontrollers communicate with other computers.

What is Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board. To do so you use the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring), and the Arduino Software (IDE), based on Processing.

Arduino senses the environment by receiving inputs from many sensors, and affects its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. One can tell your Arduino what to do by writing code in the Arduino programming language and using the Arduino development environment.


This is how Arduino kit looks like:






References (2017). Arduino – Introduction. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017]. (2017). Physical Computing in the Real World. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017]. (2017). What Is Physical Computing? | hello.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].




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