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What other creative applications might it have?

Fashion is only one creative application of physical computing. We’ve compiled a selection of applications that cover a variety of themes and appeal to a wide audience.

Music

Mimu

Artist Imogen Heap created Mimu, “the world’s most advanced wearable musical instrument.” These gloves allow you to control music by moving your hands.

Using these gloves as inspiration Helen Leigh created a micro:bit version called Mini.Mu. Using the accelerometer on the micro:bit and connecting a small speaker, children can also code software for the micro:bit to control music using the movement of their hands.

You’ll see more of the mini mu glove in Step 2.6.

Lights

iString

Working with industry company MK Illuminations, Lancaster University helped develop the technology for iString: a set of lights with individual computers in each light that enables them to communicate and self-organise. This allows companies to create huge displays with thousands of lights that could be easily controlled. Our favourite is this chandelier in Zurich which has 25,000 lights!

You can see more of their work in the links in the See Also section.

Cubert

Earlier, you saw the installation Lorraine made for her stairs in Step 1.7. She has also made a bigger creative project called Cubert – a cube of 8x8x8 red, green, and blue LED lights that sit underneath ping pong balls. Just like the stairs, the lights on Cubert could be changed to any colour. Lorraine coded the cube with a micro:bit paired with another micro:bit over radio. You could play games on the cube like Snake, but in 3d!

Image of Cubert cubeCubert cube

Zip Halo

You saw the Zip Halo in an earlier video. This circle of 60 controllable lights can be used for all kinds of physical computing projects. We’ve seen it used as a clock, a countdown timer and temperature monitor. Its bright colours make it a really eye-catching display.

Image of Zip HaloZip Halo

Cheerlights

This is one of our particular favourite physical computing projects. CheerLights is an “Internet of Things” project that allows people’s lights all across the world to synchronise to one colour set by Twitter. If you tweet @CheerLights red, lights all over the world connected to the cheerlights API will turn red.

Jiri Praus

Jiri Praus makes metal structures lit up with lights, including this LED sphere. It uses a computer inside controlling the lights.
You can find out more about Jiri’s work in the links in the See Also section.

Wobblegarden

Another of our favourites is the Wobble Garden by Robin Baumgarten. This installation features an arrangement of sensing springs combined with reactive lighting. Players wobble springs to interact with the installation and play games. The website breaks down the project really nicely into its hardware and software parts.

Other

Magic Mirror

This is a great example of physical computing for the home. A maker added some see-through glass to a computer monitor. This created a mirror that could display digital text on it. The original creator, Michael, used it to display his email notifications, but lots of people have remade the magic mirror adding extra features like facial recognition, speakers and their own online calendars.

The MagPi magazine team teamed up with Michael to create a guide on how to build your own magic mirror. You can view their magazine, and read about Michael’s work, in the links provided in the See Also section.

Loom

You remember Jacquard’s Loom from Week 1? Well it’s been upgraded! You can write code to sew a pattern onto clothes, with Turtlestitch. Here’s a pattern someone wrote the software for being stitched into a t-shirt:

Image of TurtlestitchTurtlestitch

Smart citizen

This is a really interesting physical computing social project that started in Barcelona. Smart Citizen uses open source technologies to enable ordinary people to gather information on their environment and make it available to the public.

Share your thoughts

In the next step, you will have the chance to think beyond the examples and get creative.

But first, what’s your initial reaction to these examples?

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Physical Computing

Lancaster University