Sketching In Hardware

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This is work in progress

What you see on the site presently is very rough and crude. A lot remains to be done to complete the website and the review, with proper text, pictures, videos and revised prices. I have a long list of features and comparison tools I want to develop for the review, but I am really open to hear everyone’s feedback how to best compare and evaluate toolkits. For any comments and suggestions, please get in touch.

I’ll be slowly updating the site during August, but the major update/content push with videos and pictures is scheduled for later this Fall.I need to finish writing my PhD thesis first!


Javascript test post

I am now testing the javascript info visualization library D3js. Sorry if the site loads weirdly while I discover this library!

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Recycling PhD research work!

I originally set out to complete a toolkits review for my PhD dissertation. My doctoral work related to Sketching Haptics and I have been exploring what tools are available to sketch in the haptic realm. After consultation with my supervisors, I decided to retract this review from my thesis in order to focus on the haptic qualities, not necessarily on the tech/hardware. I am now looking at ways of making the review available online.

In the Fall of 2011, I received funding from Umeå Institute of Design to acquire numerous toolkits and document their capabilities. The main criteria to select entries for my review were as follow.

A toolkit/platform that

  1. encompasses software and hardware integration, with a focus on facilitating the use of technology,
  2. offers flexibility for input and output (I/O) for generic or custom components,
  3. aims to support quick iterative prototyping activities in design, and
  4. is commercially available worldwide.

I know that there are many more kits and tools out there that are very interesting for sketching and prototyping, but do not fully fulfill those requirements. There are many Kickstarter projects that are amazing, but ordering them after the campaign is closed is often impossible or include long delays. It will be demanding to track the evolution of all toolkits over time. Many have substantial revisions, other become obsolete and are not supported on the latest OS.

The toolkits I managed to obtained during the Fall of 2011 are:

Lego Mindstorms
Seeed Studio Stem + Twigs
Seeed Electronic brick
Seeed Groove
Basic Stamp
Propeller Board
Beagle Board
Bug Labs
Make Controller
Arduino Derivatives
Elenco Snap Kit
GHI FEZ board
Pico Board
CUI 32
MondoMatrix + Displayduino

2012 Toolkits Review in the work

This is the revival of my 2008 toolkits review from I am now revisiting the old toolkits and adding new ones. So far I have ~30 toolkits being revised and dissected. What you see on this website is very sketchy as I am using this review to dig into WordPress as a CMS platform. I’m writing a custom theme, a few plugins and widgets to present the toolkits. I hope to have a good selection of diagrams, charts and visuals dynamically generated via javascript and the canvas tag eventually.

During the coming weeks, I will add numerous photos and videos of the toolkits in use. I am planning to record a Hello World sequence for each toolkit, to start from nothing, unpacking, installing the software and using an analog sensor to blink a LED. I’ll need a few more weeks to cut and edit the videos.

If you are interested in the this toolkits review, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be very happy to hear any feedback or discover new kits I am not aware of.

Camille Moussette
PhD student and teacher
Umeå Institute of Design
websitePhD blog