The world of DIY electronics meets multitouch exhibits in the Open Exhibits Arduino Module. The module allows you to create hybrid exhibits that take input from mechanical buttons, switches, dials, knobs, etc., and display and manipulate results on multitouch devices. Environmental data from cameras or sensors could also be used to control your exhibit. Using an RFID reader, you can gather input from real objects with RFID tags. This allows you to create a “tangible user interface” for a virtual exhibit, something incredibly practical in the museum world.
The video above shows how an interactive exhibit about the anatomy of the human head can be controlled through a variety of different input methods. It shows a dial adjusting the visibility of layers, a flip switch and RFID tagged picture cards used to change modes.
What can you build?
Some examples of the types of exhibits you can build with the Open Exhibits SDK and the Arduino Module include:
- An exhibit that monitors the atmosphere in the room and displays the results. Multiple visitors could influence the readings by simultaneously manipulating controls to increase/decrease humidity.
- A DJ mixing board exhibit with sliders that allow multiple users to combine, distort and remix audio clips.
- An exhibit about nutrition where miniature replicas of different foods can be sorted on a table into their correct food groups.
- An exhibit that explains how mechanical clocks work with multiple controls like levers and switches to speed, slow or change the timing mechanism.
- Virtual chess exhibit that uses physical objects (like replica Lewis Chessmen!) tagged with RFID as the game pieces.
What do you need?
As with all Open Exhibits projects, exhibits are built in Flash using the Open Exhibits SDK, Creative Markup Language (CML), Gesture Markup Language (GML) and ActionScript (AS3). The Arduino module works by mapping Arduino input terminals to CML object properties. To build an exhibit, you will need an Arduino board, basic knowledge of electronic circuits, and AS3 fundamentals. You can connect:
- Switches to boolean properties such as visibility
- Continuous controllers (dials, sliders, pressure sensors, etc.) to any numeric property such as scale and position
- RFID to boolean properties
The Arduino Module features a terminal status window and a mapping interface. The source code is included in the download package, as well as an example application.
Who created it?
The module was a Wanted Board item that was claimed by Joshua Thorp. Joshua wrote the source code, and the Open Exhibits team made some slight modifications and created an example application. The software is managed by Open Exhibits.
Charles Veasey Posted on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012