Today we started thinking about bouys as objects which could be interaction points – if we want / need to be contact free (as a result of COVID-19) they could work as antennae picking up proximity. In line with this, we have started to look at E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) which is a small but grand part of the American Fluxus. Within that body of works there are a few pieces (i.e. Variations 1966, Merce Cunningham and John Cage) which could be described as dance and electronics. The dance studio is set up with a series of antennae (using theremin like technology, a contactless electronic instrument), when the dancers are in proximity to any of the antennae it has an affect on the sound. We wouldn’t use the same analogue technology but capacitive sensors could be deployed to achieve a good effect. So in short, we are thinking about bouys (metaphorically as objects that signify something) as antennae which allow contactless interactions.
So, just playing with the antennae idea – we made a rough and ready test. The file is used as a capacitive sensor, hooked up to a chip with 8-channels (only using one channel here). Notice the LED turns on when the hand is nearby. The laptop is running Processing and the Arduino is set up on a serial port. It just sends 1 or 0 depending on the proximity, which makes the psychedelic bubble grow.
In the example below, there is a slightly different hardware setup, averaging a number of readings and filtering to get a variable result. It wasn’t possible here to increase sensitivity to get greater range but the hardware is very simple!!