Arduino: Open-Source Interactivity for the Arts

Mar 17, 2011

The New York Times recently ran a nice article by Nick Bilton on the Arduino, an open-source micro-computer that allows artists to create hardware and software that can interface and interact with the physical world.  Because of it's combination of open design, easy-of-use, affordability, and the knowledge-sharing that has arisen from it's on and offline community of users; the Arduino has become a staple for interactive artwork.  It's also finding it's way into theater productions, along with physically aware products such as the Nintendo Wii remote/sensor and the Microsoft Kinect.  

Arduino The Documentary (2010) English HD from gnd on Vimeo.

From Arduino's website:
Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software on running on a computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP).
The boards can be built by hand or purchased preassembled; the software can be downloaded for free. The hardware reference designs (CAD files) are available under an open-source license, you are free to adapt them to your needs.

Immaterials: Light painting WiFi from Timo on Vimeo. Built with Arduino

The New York Times article discusses how it has also been adopted by museums as platform for creating interactive displays. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on specialized computer systems and developers, the Arduino boards only cost $30 to start off with:
“The Arduino has changed the way we can create and build exhibits,” said Hélène Alonso, director of interactive exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. “In the past, we would have used 50 percent of our budget on computers that have now been replaced with the simplicity of the Arduino.”
Read the whole article at the New York Times website.  For more information on Arduino, or Processing (another stable for the modern interactive artist), visit  There you'll find tutorials and links to buy your very own Arduino.

Image from the Arduino Team

Via You've Cott Mail


Tags: Arduino, Process, interactive, art, programming, museums

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