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Why a designer should be interested in the Arduino

Roule, our Content Designer, put together this post about the Arduino course she and few others on the team are doing at the moment.

Arduino is a board which functions as a small inexpensive computer that could be connected to pieces of hardware, such as LED lights and sensors. With some programming you can switch the lights on and off, make things move or create sounds. And that’s only the beginning.

Watch this video to see an Arduino in action. http://youtu.be/UoBUXOOdLXY

But I design why should I be interested in Arduino?

Browsing the internet one Saturday morning, as you do, I visited Thingking’s  http://thingking.co.za website. I love their Toyota Etios ‘Tweet for Sweets’ activation and their Lipton floating vending machine at Clifton.

The exciting thing for me about ThingKing is they work in a space where technology and creative ideas meet. They play using open source tools. And people are paying attention.

Web-stalking their work brought me to the Hackspace Hercules with Thingking, a 4-week Arduino course. Although the idea of coding in a C-based language freaked me out a little, I signed up.

Two sessions down and I can build a small circuit with LEDs, resistors and switches. With code changes I can program the Arduino to make the LEDs flash any number of times in a programmed sequence and use the switches to stop and start the flashing.

We’ve touched on sensors (this is the awesome part or the Arduino). Sensors are the measuring devices that turn an analog signal into a digital signal.

This means we can use sound, motion, temperature, light or moisture to turn something like LEDs on, or with a little work, send a tweet or take a photograph. There are countless projects on YouTube.

Here is what interests me about the Arduino:

  1. It is great tool to take an idea from concept to execution.
  2. The prototyping board is powerful, but relatively simple to use.
  3. It is open source, so I can use code and circuits from Arduino fanatics over the world. Even children are using it. (No pressure)
  4. Understanding the capabilities of an inexpensive tool like the Arduino makes conceptualising and implementing interactive projects a little less abstract.
  5. The possibilities are endless. It allows people to participate in the maker culture where we can hack, change and remix things.

I am a big fan.

Interested? Check out Arduino and Raspberry Pi:

http://arduino.cc/
http://www.raspberrypi.org/

- Roule