Friday, September 11, 2009

Translating a physical computing idea into manageable parts

Earlier today I read the first chapters of the Introduction to Physical Computing course textbook (Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers). In the introduction of this book I came across two interesting frameworks intended to help designers describe their idea and identify all distinct elements of the interaction that need to be solved.

The first framework focuses on helping designers break down their idea into bite-sized chunks. To complete this simple chart a designer must identify the input, output and processing requirements for their project. Pretty basic stuff that is often forgotten in moments of late-night, last minute panic.

Defining Your Physical Computing Challenges
Interesting note on selecting between digital and analog inputs and outputs: if an interaction can be described using words related to discreet states (e.g. "either" or "or") then a digital I/O solution will usually suffice; however, if the input or output can only be described with words related to intensity (e.g. "stronger", "brighter", etc.) then an analogue I/O device will likely be needed.
The second framework maps the level of complexity associated to different types of projects. This simple 4-cell illustrates that projects increase in complexity when they involve parallel and analog processing.

Mapping Complexity based on Serial and Parallel, Digital and Analog

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