LookingOutwards-Balloon (In)direct messaging, WristWhirl, and Scribb (Nina Kowalke)

Balloon-Powered (In)Direct Messaging

This project uses several Arduino components, as well as helium, an engraver, and other materials to form a machine that can print a message onto a thin piece of wood and then send it off flying attached to a helium filled biodegradable balloon. All of the machine’s mechanisms are driven by an Arduino Mega and each mechanism can also be operated individually with toffee switches. This project is not meant for practicality, obviously, but instead functions as a sort of art exhibit. I’m inspired by the idea of tech art and how something so seemingly artificial can act in a way that would stir up feelings.

I think this project designer was smart to use the wood for the messages and the biodegradable balloons to give the project a dimension of care for the environment that might appeal to it’s artistic audience. Something I think could have made the project more successful would be to improve the message uploading process. Currently, it is set up so that users must go to a certain website to upload their messages, however, I think the project would be more cohesive and complete if there were a simple message input screen or even an iPad whose sole purpose was message input that travelled with the exhibit to its many display locations. As far as the inspiration for this project, the designer talks about having always liked what went up in the air but also specifically appreciating balloons. This attraction paired with a trip to a cardboard factory with big marvelous machines are what lead to David Colombini to want to create this poetic tech art piece.



This Arduino team has created a smartwatch that functions by reading wrist movements in a “joystick” manner instead of just through regular touch screen features like most smartwatches. WristWhirl functions by relying on a TFT display, infrared proximity sensors, a piezo vibration sensor, and an Arduino Due board to connect all of the pieces. This project inspires me because I have not thought much about the concept that technology like a smartwatch could function touch free. The creators of this project focus instead on the action of pinching fingers to turn sensors on the wrist on and off which I think is so innovative.

In critiquing the project, I wonder if it could be improved by creating more kinds of wrist triggers that could trigger different features. For example, instead of just pinching fingers to communicate to the watch, what if closing/outstretching the hand could communicate another idea to the watch and therefore add to its features? I do feel like it could have been easy to get carried away with this design and turn it into a glove in order to maximize the use of the sensores. But I think the designers were smart in preserving the simplicity and keeping the project a simple wrist watch design. In regards to the inspiration for this project, it seems that the designer was intrigued by the fact that current smartwatches are only functional if both hands are free. With WristWhirl, this design team is changing the norms and innovating in new ways.


This project is a computer game that requires the user to draw black areas on a mousepad and then with their other hand, move the special mouse over the black area so that it can sense the change from white to black and the user evolves within the game. Several components that make up the project include a reflective sensor, a double USB hub, and a micro Arduino. I’m inspired by the way this project is changing my thought process. I am so used to the usual use of a mouse and mousepad that the concept of this game is stretching my thought processes in new ways as I try to wrap my mind around how exactly it works. I admire the fact that the designer took an everyday product like a mouse and changed its functionality to perform a whole new task. If the designer were to improve their designs I think they might want to take into account the fact that the current design seems to require some type of ambidextrousness that most people might not demonstrate. Using the mouse with the lesser dominant hand may cause hardships for users, however, it is possible that it is not as hard to do as the idea sounds to me having never actually played around with the project.

The designer of Scribe was inspired by another project from a different designer that explored the use of the optical camera within the mouse. From this original inspiration, the designer of this game then had the idea to combine their interest in controllers with the inspiration and then came up with the idea for the game. The designer was also very interested in the relationship between digital and print and so they used the designs on the physical mousepad as part of the game. This idea of combining digital and print media inspires me to do the same in my own future designs.



1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s