This is a book about creating physical interaction with computer systems. It focuses on designing hardware and programming for systems that use either physical input or physical feedback. This book has been a dream of mine since I was an art student beginning to create interactive installations and finding that there was no simple introduction to the topics that I wanted to explore. At the time, I didn’t know what platforms, tools, and programming languages were available for creating interactive art, and I didn’t know where to find more information about these topics that a relative novice programmer could understand. As I began teaching, I was asked the same question again and again by students: “where do I begin?” Much has changed in the seven years since then, though, and now many excellent projects are helping beginners program,artists create, and programmers rapidly prototype applications. We’ll cover three of these projects in this book: Processing, Arduino, and openFrameworks. This book intends to answer the question “Where do I begin?” in as comprehensive a manner as possible. It is the intention of this book to be useful for almost any type of project. This book will provide technical advice, critical commentary for you to consider, code that you can use, hardware diagrams that you can use, and further resources for you to explore.
Ten years ago, the idea of artists or designers writing code or designing hardware was almost unheard of. Today, not only has it become commonplace, but it has become an important arena of expression and exploration. The dialogue between technology and design is a vital and vibrant one that shapes art and technology alike. I hope that this book can be, in some small way, another path into this conversation for more artists and designers.