Sketching In Hardware


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 UmeƄ 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
TinkerKit
Lilypad
Seeed Studio Stem + Twigs
Seeed Electronic brick
Seeed Groove
Phidgets
Gadgeteers
Wiring
Basic Stamp
Propeller Board
Beagle Board
Bug Labs
I-CubeX
LittleBits
Make Controller
Arduino Derivatives
Teensy
Modkit
Elenco Snap Kit
GHI FEZ board
Mbed
Fischertechnik
chipKIT
Gainer
B-Squares
Pico Board
CUI 32
Picaxe
MondoMatrix + Displayduino