Arduino and prototypes – designing interactions [#isa2012]

A week ago we hosted in São Paulo a big event of interaction design. We had great people talking, like Massino Banzi, Martin Zabaleta, Olli Leino, Roger Pujol, Dan Saffer, Jonathan Hull and… Don Norman. Well, I decided to write a post about my impressions of the Interaction South America (#ISA 2012), but this post became so big that I decided to make it in parts. So this week you will have content to read every day. :)

Why prototype with Arduino?
Arduino is a small tool for computers to control the physical world, through open-source platforms. Massino Banzi opened the first day of the #ISA2012 talking about prototyping with Arduino and the possibilities to build interactive electronics projects.

Collaborative technology
In order to make Arduino we need a piece of hardware, software, process and communication. All the contribution of new tools (Arduino has some derivatives too) and new experiments goes to a ‘community’ that uses and shares everything. This is possible because Arduino works in an open-source platform. So, it shows that we are living a democratic place in technology, where you can share things and experiment the world. Exemples: GitHub that promotes collaborative coding and CERN OpenLab from LHC project.
So, things made with Arduino are a mashup of tools and elements and the documentation is creative common license. The only thing that is ‘protected’ is the brand.
Making collaborative things shows that we are transforming technology on our time. We are sharing knowledge and testing new things very fast. That’s why Arduino seems to be the right tool in the moment to build and improve new possibilities through prototype. We are now creating more interactions. Quick-and-dirty.

Internet of things
The planet, human and physical objects are connected and we can have access to all the data we are sharing through interaction. Devices are linked together using networks. Those networks can happen through internet.
So we can say that today we are living in the internet of things, which means that things (devices included) are connected together everywhere, through the cloud and related by data. Well, we are always transmitting data that can be transformed and storaged in the cloud. This cloud is not a place, but it is anywhere. We don’t see, but it’s here.
But let’s talk about things. So, things = things made with Arduino? That’s the key of what I’m talking here.
Arduino can help us to create things that talk to each other and use the data we transmit. Transforming data is transforming new forms of social relations and we can do this by our own hands.

3D printers and prototype
Prototyping is creating an early sample of a thing that we want to test in a specific context and get some feedback from it. Well, we have more examples of prototyping and transformation. The 3D printers are already a reality. You can imagine, create something in your computer as a prototype, print, test and see if it works. A new industrial revolution?

Creating possibilities
Experience can be promoted by a bunch of interactions. We can transform the virtual/fantasy into something real and tangible. Imagine the Clock in Harry Potter, for example, alive:

We can add another function to clothes:

Ruffletron – demo from lara grant on Vimeo.

And… Use Arduino in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN:

The possibilities seem to be huge in this scenario and everything is promoted by new ways of interaction. The role of the designer today is bigger than we can imagine.
Now the designer has the autonomy to create and prototype. It’s like a DIY technology, exploring the world through new materials. You can make whatever you want in single prototypes. Interaction appears everywhere.
That can help us to think out of the box. We need to image that things can happen out of our comfort zone, where plants can talk and tweet.

It’s a mixture of things, experiments, here and now. Break your paradigms!

One observation: I didn’t have the opportunity to create any Arduino prototype yet. Hope to build it soon and then I will post my experiences here. :)

References
Open-source your projects — and upload them to space: Massimo Banzi at TEDGlobal 2012
The Internet of Things: how it’ll revolutionise your devices
Medical and Health Related Projects with Arduino

photo credit: rometer via photopin (license)