Twitter radio


This anthropomorphized wood bowl will read Tweets out loud. It was built by [William Lindmeier] as part of his graduate work in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. View the clip after the break to see and hear a list from his Twitter feed read in rather pleasant text-to-speech voices.

The electronics involved are rather convoluted. Inside the upturned bowl you’ll find both an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi. But that’s not the only thing that goes into this. The best sounding text-to-speech program [William] could find was for OSX, so there is a remote computer involved as well. But we think what makes this special is the concept and execution, not the level of hardware inefficiency.

The knob to the left sets the volume and is also responsible for powering down the device. The knob of the right lets you select from various Twitter lists. Each turn of the knob is responded to with a different LED color in the nose and a spoken menu label. You can get a quick overview of the project from this summary post.

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Irregular Incurve robotic instrument


The Irregular Incurve is a robotic instrument built by [Xiaoyang Feng] as part of his ITP thesis work. It’s a MIDI instrument with an array of 12 strung bows mounted to a curved shower rod. The end of each bow has a tuning key. The strings are each picked using independently mounted arms. One servo controls the downward motion of the pick while the other controls the rotation of the shaft. A damper is also attached to each arm. The string vibrations are transferred to a spruce soundbox under the bridge. Below you can see a video of Gizmodo playing with it at the ITP show. Check out [Xiaoyang]‘s Flickr set for images of the build process plus some early videos of the mechanism.

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Mud Tub: a tactile computer interface


[Tom Gerhardt] has made this very interesting mud interface for a computer.  Follow the link to see a video of it in action. It appears as though he’s using a laser grid of some kind to establish elevation. We might be way off on that though, there aren’t any details on the construction. He does mention that it is an open source hardware and software project, so maybe the details are available on request. In the video you can see it running as a projection surface where people are interacting with items directly on the mud. You can also see it being used as an external input device. People play Tetris using it in that example.

UPDATE: [Moon] reports from the ITP show that the tub has a 16×12 grid of generic pressurs sensors on the bottom. These feed into a MacBook Pro which is projecting on the surface. Despite the sparse grid, [Tom] says he gets good resolution by interpolating between sensors; it can detect a resting hand pivoting on the surface.

Spatialized umbrella


Reader [Joe Saavedra] sent in his latest project: the spatialized umbrella. The base of each umbrella rib features an LED, speaker, and distance sensor. These are connected to an ATMega168 microcontroller running the Arduino environment. The IR sensor triggers a rain drop sound based on proximity. Shorter distances mean more droplets are played. The sounds are generated using a lookup table and the digital pins. You can see the demo video embedded below.

Using the Arduino environment without the associated board is part of another idea that [Joe] is working on. The MapDuino Project uses the standard Arduino hardware for programming, but then transfers the chip to a more barebones circuit in target project. They based their initial work on the ITP breadboard Arduino. [Read more...]

Tweenbots rely on human help


[Kacie Kinzer] put together an interesting social experiment: Could a robot navigate purely by the help of strangers? She constructed an inexpensive Tweenbot robot that would drive in a straight line. A flag was attached to the top with a plea for help and a destination. Surprisingly, on the first run it was able to traverse through Washington Square Park in just 42 minutes with the help of 29 people. You can see a video of the first run below. This is part of [Kacie]‘s thesis work at ITP and she has many other bots planned. While it’s a great demonstration of human kindness, there’s another lesson: If you don’t think your public project looks innocuous enough, draw a smiley face on it.

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Baby twitters via kicks


[Corey Menscher] built the Kickbee while attending ITP this Fall. It monitors his pregnant wife’s belly and updates Twitter, a microblogging service, every time the baby kicks. The device makes everyone aware of the baby’s movement, not just the expectant mother. It can also log the baby’s activity to monitor development. The sensors are piezos held in place with an elastic band. They’re connected to an Arduino Mini which connects to a host computer using a BlueSMIRF bluetooth module. The host Mac does the logging and twittering.

This is one of the many projects on display at the ITP Winter Show.

[Thanks, @readiness via Boing Boing]