Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Señor Coconut


This project is intended to explore human computer interactivity in an easy and, hopefully, fun way. Using maracas (simple percussive instruments) as an input device, the user will be able to animate an abstract entity on a computer display. The entity’s color, shape and movements will be dependent on the rhythm the user shakes out of the maracas. The connection between the user and the entity will be similar to that of a musician and an audience, or to a dancer and music. With any success, the user will find an ideal rhythm that will cause the onscreen entity to flourish.

System Description

The system is made up of four parts: the input device, a microcontroller, a PC and a display. The input device for the system is a modified pair of maracas. Embedded in the maracas are piezo sensors, which will transfer the movements of the maracas into an analog signal. These sensors are quite sensitive and will return a steady stream of data to the microcontroller. The microcontroller will act as a filtering agent, converting the data into a coherent stream that can then be fed to the PC via a serial connection.

The PC will run the java applet (created in Processing) that will convert the data sent from the microcontroller into an animated entity. The entity will react to the changes in the motion of the maracas by morphing its shape, color, size and position. I hope to create some sort of abstract nebulous form that has a jellyfish quality. The final part of the project will be to display the applet, and have the user interact with the entity. My goal is for users to understand the connection between their movements and those of the kinetic entity’s, so that both can engage in a rhythmic dance.

Cha! Cha! Cha!

The Plan

- Modify one pair of maracas to house piezo sensors

- Develop code for microcontroller to convert and filter analog signals as well as outputting data via serial port.

- Develop processing code to create an interesting entity that relies on variables provided by the serial feed.


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