Category: LookingOutwards

Looking Outwards- Arduino Parts

Colour Sensor:


Force Sensitive Resistor (FSR) :


I like the idea of triggering reactions through touch and pressure, as well as colour. Our associations to certain colours can help reflect an object in the state of dormancy as well as liveliness, and touch has the possibility of creating an object ( or creature-like object) react in certain ways. I think if I were to create an arduino-based piece, I would like to create something which reacts specifically to the difference nuances of human touch.

Looking Outwards- you better bet I’m gonna make something that lights up all fancy

You know it’s true. I’m gonna do it. I actually already have a super cool idea that’s probably overly complicated but I’m gonna tell you about it. Well, sort of. There’s two versions. I hope nobody minds that I’m going to talk about three different interesting sensors and add-ons that I found because they’re all super cool.

First one: Flora Color Sensor (

Flora Color Sensor with White Illumination LED - TCS34725

I like the Flora doodads because they’re tiny (this one’s about the size of a nickel) and meant to be sewn into or onto things. Uses for it individually: since it’s color-sensitive, you could use it in tandem with pretty much anything else and make devices that allow blind or colorblind people to find color-matching outfits? I actually just came up with that off the top of my head; this one’s kind of hard to use on its own, but I have ideas down below in the post that incorporate it.

Second: Adafruit NeoPixel Shield (

Adafruit NeoPixel Shield for Arduino - 40 RGB LED Pixel Matrix

This is a really cool thing that lets you customize all 40 of these tiny RGB LEDs from one single pin, which is super cool, and also I love colors. This is the main part of both my cool ideas that I talk about later. Anyway, how else this could be used independently is as a color readout of pretty much any data; it could be programmed to visually represent numerical data, sound, temperature, video game health bars, pretty much whatever you can think of.

and Third: MP3 player shield (

MP3 Player Shield

this one’s pretty basic; you put MP3s on a micro SD card and plug it into the shield, and then the MP3 files can be used somehow to interact with the Arduino. I’m not entirely clear on how it works because I’m not super well versed in digital music stuff.

how to use these things:

The first idea is pretty simple- take color input from the Flora Color sensor and send it to the LED shield, so the LEDs display a tiny lit-up version of whatever colors the sensor is seeing. I have no idea if there’s a practical application for this or not, but it’s cute.

The other idea is to use the MP3 player Shield and the RGB LED shield in tandem to essentially create a synesthetic output generator. Presuming I’m right about how it works, I could use the MP3 input to generate a specific color output depending on what music is being inputted. I think that would involve writing a program to analyze the quality of the MP3s themselves though, and I have no idea how complex that’d be or if that’s even a thing that’s possible.

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Looking Outwards – Will Taylor

While browsing Sparkfun and Adafruit, I began thinking about different combinations of sensors I could use in a project. The webcam, pulse sensor, and microphone stood out as a good trio for me. I think it would be very interesting to have audio and visual data for situations in which a person becomes stressed, aroused, or extremely relaxed. The focus doesn’t necessarily have to be on the person whose pulse is being recorded. Perhaps the webcam and microphone is in a separate location, but will not be activated until the participant reaches a relaxed, meditative state. I would definitely want to make the project about relaxation, because in today’s fast-paced lifestyle it’s become harder to get into a calm state of mind.




Pulse Sensor:

Pulse Sensor





On a separate note, one sensor that really stood out to me was the weather sensor. It’s really cool that technology has reached the point where these can be manufactured so inexpensively. I’d like to use this sensor in an interactive installation or sculpture that would change in accordance with the weather outside.

Weather sensor:

Weather meters

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Looking outwards- Arduino Parts

MicroView by Geek Ammo


There are so many different fancy gadgets for the Arduino, but this one stuck out to me as something that would help me as I get the gist of physical computing and as a visual person. The MicroView would be great for rapid prototyping, being able to see real time what the Arduino is thinking without connecting it to your computer (no serial port or usb cables). I could use it for displaying what would normally be displayed on my laptop, defiantly icing for project that requires graphics and mobility. This could be used to collect data from people popcorn style from off the street. It has a development board with an PMOLED (passive matrix organic light emitting diode) screen that can be programmed, and can do anything that an Arduino pro can do.

FONA by Ada fruit


FONA has a GSM cellular module that can send and receive voice, text, SMS and data. Using FONA has two major advantages in my view. First, I can use FONA to send and receive data from the physical world, not like an actual phone would. Any information that can be collected by an Arduino can be distributed, for example, in an interactive installation a person can have their “results” texted to them. This allows more privacy, or to get the  “special treatment” feel. Second, FONA is a cheaper and way easier alternative to buying a crappy phone and trying to work through that, also, alternatively, I wouldn’t have to use my own phone number in this hypothetical installation. To put it super broadly, I can build my own phone and let that give me freedom to do whatever I need to do.

Looking Outwards – Arduino Parts

Adafruit Assembled Data Logging Shield


Data logging would be essential for any project that required the gathering of information in the real world for later use. This part does what it says on the tin, recording the information to an SD card.

Personally, I immediately thought of a system whereby a worn Arduino that records everything that I say as I go through the world. This would give me a large amount of data for a project that I’ve been considering for a while now.

Muscle Sensor v3 Kit


This kit allows the Arduino to know when the muscles it is attached to are stressed. This essentially creates a near-invisible, non-physical input directly related to the human body.

While this technology is advertised as a way of creating controllers, I think that a lot of potential lies in these devices being passive. It would be interesting to have a system that knows how you legs are moving when you walk around in the world, and plays with that information.

Look outwards
NeoPixels come in a range of sizes and shapes, they’re durable and the detail and color values of them are very impressive. I immediately thought rave stuff when I saw these. Psychadelic visual/audio effects translated by these leds infused with durability and active use would lead to great rave products. In terms of art though I believe these would be very useful for sets and environments. I’m interested in naturally occuring light patterns and how we can artificially construct them.
My childhood fantasies would definitely come true if I had this multicopter. This programmable multicopter would allow for great surveilance, interactivity, and I think highjinks as well as art.

Looking Outwards: Components


Flora color sensor

Flora Color Sensor is a wearable arduino sensor that detect the color through the sensor and lights the LED with the same color it detected. I think this color sensor has a potential use to many different clothing and fashion ideas and plans. I think it will be nice to make this sensor detect the color of the day, such as grey when it is raining and white(since the snow is white) when it is snowing and reflect it on the jewelry the person is wearing or on the clothing is a fun idea to play with. Or having the clothing be a part of the scene, especially in places where there are many signs such as for instance New York City, might be another idea that can be played with this color sensor


Sound detector

By using this sound detector I think we can make secret knocks for door locks. I got this idea from the movie Frozen where they would knock on the door to some melody that were specific and my cousins would always do that last winter. Since people can make many door knock sounds it might be a fun idea to play with making a special door knock in order to make the door open rather than the old fashioned door locks that has numbers. Also it will make people knock before going into some room which makes the people inside know someone is coming in at the same time.

Looking Outwards Arduino Parts

When looking at the different extensions, ports and shields available for Arduino I found myself drawn to shields that Arduino could manipulate visually. So with that in mind here’s a list of them I liked:


Adafruit NeoPixel Shield for Arduino- 40 RGB LED Pixel Matrix

Adafruit NeoPixel Shield for Arduino - 40 RGB LED Pixel Matrix

Basically what this is a shield made out of different colored LED lights. Just looking at this I found myself wondering how I could imagine multiple ways of manipulating the intensity of the lights in different ways. I’d also potentially be interested in using this shield with sound and having the audio manipulate the colors and their intensity. As such, I could see myself working with both this in conjunction with the Adafruit “Music Maker” MP3 Shield.



2.8” TFT touch shield for Arduino with Resistive Touch Screen



I was interested in this extension just because of the interface and the potential manipulation ability the actual user would have in drawing on the screen. It detects finger presses anywhere on the screen which is another capability I could potentially mess with, maybe playing with the intensity of the actual touch and the image created. I think this would be really fun to work with and I’d be interested in potentially using it the most.




Looking Outwards : Components

WiFi Shield

The Ada Fruit CC3000 is an Arduino shield which allows wireless connectivity to the internet. This drastically augments an Arduino’s capabilities, as data can be stored and processed online through server side operations. For instance, a device which takes pictures of a given area once a minute would fill the Arduino’s relatively small storage space very quickly. However, with a WiFi connection, the images could be automatically uploaded onto an imgur account, completely removing any concern of depleting storage space. Next, a program run on a powerful personal computer could access the imgur account and process the image data to see how often different parts of the pictured area are occupied by people. Such a calculation would be impossible with the modest computing power aboard an Arduino Uno. Next, the computer program could generate a ‘heat map’ showing the relative levels of human occupation color coded over the pictured area, and upload it to a different imgur account. The Arduino could then download the processed image and display it on a screen, thus giving the impression of on site calculations when, in truth, the WiFi shield has deferred the bulk of the work to a remote computer.

Fingerprint Scanner

The fingerprint scanner provides a (nearly) bullet proof mechanism for designing personalized interaction. I have been turning over in my mind different methods by which a user could build a personal relationship with an installation. Having personalized interactions requires the installation to identify and remember individual viewers. The most straightforward way would be to establish a user login system, but that would require viewers to both make an account and then subsequently log in every time they visited for the installation to recognize their presence. Facial recognition would be more intuitive, but requires a camera and is quite fallible to facial accessories/hair. A fingerprint scanner, however, provides a quick and easy way for viewers to inform an installation of their specific identity. From there, the installation can build up profiles of each individual in much the same way that we do, adjusting the experience accordingly. For example, an installation which displayed a virtual rabbit, could then keep track of each user’s individual interactions with said rabbit, and alter the behavior of the rabbit based on the user’s previous interactions.

PixyCam by CMU (yes!) and Servo Shield by Adafruit

Well I’m certainly happy. My idea for this Arduino project was to have my RC car follow me around like a pet, fast if I’m running, slow if I’m walking, backwards if i’m walking towards it. And I’ve found the perfect sensors. First, is PixyCam by CMU labs! Yes, homegrown here in Carnegie Mellon. This camera is really impressive, crunching huge amounts of data into really simple color-tracking signals. It allows a “weak” computer like Arduino to use a complicated sensor like a camera (millions of pixels) at 50fps(!) to track the location, distance and number of objects, color coded, to create sight-following bots or robot-followers etc. This is amazing! Just what I needed to make my rc car a pet. The other, more simply, is a shield provided by Adafruit to more accurately control more motors than just the simple Arduino board. Although I dont need this since the board is sufficient for my two-servo need.


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