Networked Objects

A Simple Cup

April 22nd, 2009

Visualizing the impact a simple cup can have on our environment

According to, over 6.5 million trees are consumed each year to produce the 16 billion disposable coffee cups that are being thrown away out into landfills. For about every 50,000 paper coffee cups produced, a tree is destroyed.

A Simple Cup visualizes the impact disposable coffee cups have on our environment by simulating a real-time growing forest on a web site every time a mug of coffee is placed onto a networked coffee cup coaster. The interactive visualization encourages coffee drinkers to drink out of their coffee mugs by rewarding them with saved trees and energy onto a virtual ecosystem (that may be accessed globally online) every time they don’t drink out of disposable paper cups when they have a cup of coffee. Hypothetically, if a significant amount of coffee drinkers had one of these networked mug coasters next to their desks, they would be able to each contribute and collectively grow this forest together, visualizing how much natural resources have been saved over time.

The objective of A Simple Cup is to raise awareness over the impact disposable coffee cup production has on our environment’s natural resources. The project does this by encouraging coffee drinkers to stop drinking coffee out of disposable cups and instead make a valuable contribution to our environment. On the web site’s visualization, one mug of coffee is equivalent to 50,000 paper cups, which claims the life of about one pine tree. In addition to visualizing trees, the butterflies in the forest each represent one home that could be potentially powered in a year.

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Reading and Writing to the VDIP1 USB Host Controller using Arduino

March 4th, 2009

The VDIP1 USB host controller is a worthwhile extension module for anyone working with the Arduino microcontroller. The ability to integrate USB inputs/outputs with your Arduino microcontroller means that you can interface it with practically any USB device, creating even more exciting possibilities with Arduino. Another valuable integration feature that the module can provide is the ability to increase Arduino’s memory capacity using any USB memory drive.

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Hockey Puck Pong Controller

February 11th, 2009

A hockey puck can be an engaging networked object. For the second assignment in my Networked Objects class, students were asked to develop intriguing input devices for a networked pong game using the WIZnet module. I took this opportunity to get my feet wet by beginning to play with some of the materials and technology I will be using for my final project which will be a virtual floor hockey game involving hockey pucks and sticks that communicate over a network (details on this concept will be posted in the coming weeks). The initial idea for the functionality of the pong controller was to insert a wheel potentiometer into the center of the base of the hockey puck to detect whether the object is moving left or right. This did not work out as planned since the puck can only move in a certain angle in order for the movement to be processed serially. As a contingency plan for this week, I inserted two push button switches at the sides of the puck which act as targets for the user and the hockey stick. The result was an engaging aesthetic that I am pleased with. While admittedly this is not an effective interface design for a networked pong game if a hockey stick were to be used, I believe it is a productive start in establishing my goal to convert hockey pucks into networked objects.

Stir it Up!

January 31st, 2009

This was a physical computing improvisation assignment I did for my Networked Objects class. The idea was to be able to control a video by stirring a coffee mug. Random, huh? We do very weird things with technology at ITP.