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This content is taken from the Lancaster University & Institute of Coding's online course, Introduction to Physical Computing. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 seconds The musical glove was a collaboration between musicians who make a musical glove called the Mi.Mu, hugely technologically advanced, very expensive, for professional musicians, but amazing amount of sensors and work that goes into it. A creative technologist called Helen Lee, who bridged the gap between the technological glove and what could be done on a children’s level, using felt, sewing, and a microbit and, us as electronics manufacturers. So we developed a sewable speaker to go with the glove. We worked with Helen to develop the final shape of the glove and how it would be manufactured. And on my side of things, it’s the explanation of how is that going to work in schools? How is it going to work for code clubs?

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds And how is it going to work for groups that want to get together and make the gloves? So I’ve been working with local secondary schools to develop curriculum materials. And I’ve also been going out to places like CERN in Switzerland, where I worked with CERN, University of Geneva, a make space in Geneva, and we work with children and university students to make the gloves, spend a day working with them and seeing what the outcomes were at the end. So for the children, they made an orchestra with their gloves and they all collaborated together.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds Having programmed their gloves, built the gloves, and made them into instruments, they formed an orchestra, which coordinated themselves and played Daft Punk by the end of the day. The university students were more interested in how they could, then, use that as a springboard to something else. And they were using their gloves to throw sounds at each other down corridors, moving further and further apart. Ones were running outside the windows, waving at each other to send pictures to each other. It was all an interesting experiment to see what do people want to do with our stuff? And how can we learn from that and develop more things to help people be creative and play?

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 seconds The Enviro+ is kind of like a citizen science board for people to monitor air quality, outside their houses or in schools or any kind of public place, basically. The idea being they can collect data on air quality and then send it to somewhere that can kind of analyse that data to look at the air quality and how it varies across cities or countries. So this is the board. It has a weather sensor on it that detects temperature, pressure, and humidity. It has a light sensor that can measure the light level. It has a microphone on it, so you can look at noise pollution as well. It has a separate sensor that - it’s called a particulate sensor.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 seconds And so that allows you to measure the number and the size of particles that are in the air. So a lot of air pollution is things like soot and exhaust fumes, and also things like pollen. And this little device sucks air through it and then measures the number of particles that are in the air. And that’s roughly correlated to the air quality. So the more particles, the worse the air quality. And you can also measure some different gases that cause air pollution as well, things like nitrous oxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are greenhouse gases that are a problem that come from car exhaust fumes and kind of industrial pollutants.

Skip to 4 minutes and 36 seconds So this board, you can actually stick it in a couple of bits of drainpipe, which costs like 2 or 3 pounds from a DIY shop. And all you do is you stick the device that’s on a Raspberry Pi, with the sensor inside the drain pipe, stick the other half on, and then mount this whole thing on a drain pipe outside your house or kind of on the roof or somewhere like that. And then it collects data and sends it to a server somewhere. So it’s really easy to build. And it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t cost very much. And we’re trying to encourage people to get involved and collect data.

Product showcase: Pimoroni

In this first video, you’ll meet some of the people working in physical computing today and hear about the products they have been developing.

Pimoroni is a UK company based in Sheffield. It was founded in 2012 by Jon Williamson and Paul Beech to make electronics accessible and attractive and to spread knowledge, fun, and ideas.

Pimoroni create their own boards for physical computing across a range of products. They also create tutorials and videos for their community of users and learners. Pimoroni’s products are professionally designed in-house by their designers.

We spoke to Head of Digital Content Sandy McDonald, and Tanya Fish, Education and Outreach Lead, about a couple of their products: the Mini:Mu musical glove, and the Enviro + Air Quality sensor.

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This video is from the free online course:

Introduction to Physical Computing

Lancaster University