A growing number of computer hobbyists are merging the online and physical worlds in new ways.
Instead of waiting for technology companies to produce new gadgets, these users are buying off-the-shelf computer chips, sensors, and wireless radios and creating their own devices. Much of the current innovation is based on the introduction of Arduino, a credit card-sized circuitboard featuring a single chip-based microcontroller.
Since Arduino's release in 2005, more than 300,000 units have been sold around the world, giving artists, designers, and tinkerers a way to add interactivity to just about anything. For example, as part of the HomeSense project, participants were given a set of sensors and attachments for Arduino that further simplifies the design process. The participants were largely successful in making smart objects that had meaning and use for them.
Although Arduino requires developing software, a new generation of devices is removing the need for programming knowledge. For example, Twine is a block of rubber containing a microcontroller, a Wi-Fi radio, and internal sensors for acceleration and temperature. The device does not require knowledge of how it works mechanically or the code required to program it.
From New Scientist
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