Using the Arduino as a tool for physical ideation.
Rapid Prototyping, Creativity, and Open Hardware Workshop from which light on Vimeo.
I led a workshop exploring ideas of rapid prototyping and physical ideation with the Arduino platform, using the Experimenter kits. This was at a festival+conference of entrepreneurship at MIT.
The workshop began with a short presentation. You can find the images corresponding to the ideas here. This framed the workshop by showing participants some of the implications of the technology they were learning.
The open hardware model has gained in popularity just recently, in the last few years, propelled in part by the rise of the Arduino, but also events like the Open Hardware Summit. People are expressing new ways to do business, and engage with customers, using open hardware.
WIRED came out with an article called ‘The Next Industrial Revolution‘ outlining the simple idea of ‘giving away the bits, and selling the atoms’- meaning that you give away the information, but sell the actual thing. Giving away the information can be amenable to building a community and ecosystem of add-ons around your product.
For the Arduino this led to the development of Arduino clones, as well as tons of shields to do different things, like handle TV input, or Ethernet connections. The Arduino itself can be best introduced by seeing a gallery of projects people have completed with it- you get an idea of its unexpected potential.
Finally I outlined a few tutorials to go through, and we went over the basics. Those are also posted on the workshop page. What actually happened was that after the initial description of parts, people jumped in immediately. Instead of commanding the group at once, I went around and answered questions individually or with smaller groups.
I encouraged the question “What would you do with this?”, which was inspired by Giovanni’s workshops in Burkina Faso. He would give a tutorial of how to work with a web tool, like Flickr or Google Maps, then there would be a experimentation/play session framed by that question. This would create a local community incubator- all sorts of ideas came out- some with business potential. This made me think of D-Lab and creative capacity building. Then it occurred to me, perhaps this question could refocus the workshop not on what I could teach others, but on awakening/strengthening their creative potential. That’s exciting.
For this workshop the learning and experimentation merged. Several cool projects came about, taking ideas of the first tutorials and changing them in ways to produce something original, and meaningful for the participant. People were very gracious and excited to have completed these initial steps- a whole new set of possibilities emerged in their mind- of introducing sensors in the world, and programming physical interactions.