Exbury Gardens in the spring.
now with added infomatics.

Pagoda Walking in the Trees Kew Temperate House
Kew Gardens – 250th anniversary
2 Mar 2009

As I had hoped, Saturday’s Makers & Hackers event was a lot of fun. After a kick off by Alex from Tinker.it, we split up into four teams vying for the two £50 prizes up for grabs.

I was in a team with jewellery maker Kali and advertising designer Andrew. After some time spent staring at our pile of arduinos, leds, beads and felt we set out to do something around interactive jewellery; something that could react to events around you and notify you of things. Cue five hours of prototyping, coding, soldering, beading, making and hacking.

Interactive Jewellery Team Fragile

Our finished piece was a bracelet with 5 leds surrounding a central one, hidden by Kali’s great bead work, with a button to allow the wearer to interact with it. The concept was that the central led would alert the wearer to some event, such as they have new messages. The outer ring of leds could then be used to indicate the extent of the event, such as the number of new messages.

Now, clearly you have to ignore the tail of wires running off the piece connecting it to an arduino. They don’t make it very practical to wear – but there is no reason why the arduino couldn’t have become a feature of a second piece that could be worn as well – particularly if we had a Lilypad to hand. We started talking about having a jewellery ‘hub’ where each piece you wear connects together into their own network. Slightly more than we could have practically achieved on the day.

Team Creatorz of Crazyness Team Nigel & The Craft Girls
Team Two Guys and 5 Legs Team Fragile

The teams were:

  • Creatorz of Crazyness, who made a tactile clock that allows you to feel if it is time to get up in the morning,
  • Nigel and the Craft Girls, who made a set of RFID’d robot plushies that each triggered a unique MIDI effect generated by the arduino,
  • Two Guys and Five Legs, who made a rotary encoder out of an office chair, some magnets and reed switches. This could be used to count how many times some spins around in their chair.
  • Fragile, which was our team.

After a quick show’n’tell to everyone we got to vote for our favourite. Nigel and the Craft Girls came out on top of the public vote and my team got the experts choice, as voted for by the tinker.it guys there on the day.

Tinker.it will be taking both of our pieces with them to the UK Maker Faire in a couple weeks, so we’ve got a bit of time to tidy and polish before they get shown off.

You can see the rest of my photos from the day here and there is also the wider pool with photos from everyone else here.

The Makers and The Hackers
24 Feb 2009


Makers and Hackers is a one day competition open to makers of all kinds run by Folksy and Tinker.it! Show up in Sheffield or London on Feb 28th, and make a “Household items of the future” in 8 hours with the people around you!

Tickets are free, but you do have to book – check out the site for details; it should be a lot of fun.

30 Nov 2008

Today was the first homecamp – “an unconference about using technology to monitor and automate the home for greener resource use and to save costs”.

Whilst I hadn’t entirely planned to, I found myself stood up front leading a couple sessions; one on what I’ve been doing with arduino and one a brief overview of what MQTT is.


1 Nov 2008

Yesterday’s Playful conference was a lot of fun. The day was packed with a lot of varied talks with no low spots. Here’s a very brief summary of what happened. It’s brief as I don’t take notes at conferences. Not because I don’t believe in it, but because I forget.

  • James Wallis spoke about OuLiPo
  • Roo rocked out
  • Matt Irvine Brown talked about drawing more dots to enable others to join them. His TrumpetHero and Singing Sock Puppets were inspired.
  • Adrian Hon gave a very honest account of how gaming can be addictive as well as cause addiction.
  • Eric Clough took us through the incredible New York apartment he designed as one big puzzle.
  • Chris Delay of Introversion Software demonstrated how procedural content generation can be used to generate entire city-scapes.
  • Kars Alfrink did something interesting.but my brain has ejected it. Sorry Kars, I look forward to rediscovering your talk. He has put a full transcript of his talk online. Thanks Kars!
  • Alex Fleetwood spoke about his project to combine virtual and real world dramatic experiences
  • Tom Armitage went from saying “all games today are multiplayer” to “all games have always been multiplayer”.
  • Sandy Spangler from Sony stepped in at the last minute to talk about the history and future of the EyeToy.
  • Eric Zimmerman gave a very energetic performance. Again, my brain fails me this morning.
  • Matt Biddulph explained how game controllers can easily be tinkered with to provide new and interesting uses
  • Iain Tate talked about why the Highscore is a key feature of social gaming.
  • Jolyon Webb talked about teeth with some very life-like CG heads
  • Kieron Gillen ended the day encouraging us all to plagarise ideas. Why has no-one cloned The Sims yet?

Well done to the guys at Pixel-Lab for putting this together. I look forward to next year.