Dec 18, 2009

New Video - Arbormorphic

From Jonas Eriksson! (THANKS!)

New Video

From Jonas Eriksson! (THANKS!)

Dec 15, 2009


Surface mount LEDs resting delicately on copper wires twined together to create beautiful shimmering LED trees, Arbormorphic - ascribing tree form or attributes to a being or thing not tree.

The trees were inspired from a previous project of Dzl's where he created a much larger version of the tree. We found some Copper wire, first by deconstructing a transformer (pictures coming soon!) and then we finally found our big roll of copper wire and got to work. We pulled a long section of wire across the room, wrapping it around a doorknob at one end of the room and bringing both ends together at the other end of the room, a giant loop. The two loose ends (not on doorknob) were then tied into a screw and using an electric drill we spun it fast and intertwined the two lines of copper.

We then cut the long line of copper into segments, about 30cm long each. We pried apart the two ends of each piece and soldered a surface mount LED on to the end. We tested which sides were positive and negative and then arranged them into a matrix on the protoshield. Below, we describe how and what was done, technically.

Big tree:(White LEDs)

LEDs are connected in a 4X4 matrix on an Arduino shield. These are then connected to 8 pins on the Arduino. The matrix is formed by inserting the LED wires on a proto shield so that the rows and coloumns of the matrix could be run on each side of the board.

Code was quickly written to run through the lights, four at a time and control their individual brightness in 64 levels by multiplexing. A random generator was coded to increase or decrease the brightness of a single random LED. The random generator is run once all the LEDs have been updated.

Little tree: (Green LEDs)

12 LEDs were connected in a charlieplex matrix to control three at once.
The matrix was connected to 4 pins on an ATTINY2313 AVR microcontroller. Code to multiplex the matrix was written to control each LED in 64 steps. The code cycles all LEDs in a sinewave chase with 1/12 phase difference.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Oct 15, 2009

Festival della Creativita - Set up

Originally uploaded by geekphysical
Our first test run after setting up our exhibition at Festival della Creativita. Everyone looked cool in their shades hooked up with IR gaze detection, and followed their heart beat and GSR streams flowing from one person to another. The festival begins today and its been a hard two days getting this booth in order! We're doing the last touches of tweaking the program and locking everything down (theft is popular in Italy!). We have some great neighbors - check out their video here: and another neighbor who is specializing in projecting interactive graffiti! (

Oct 8, 2009

Disco Painting

Disco Painting
Originally uploaded by geekphysical
We bought a new projector yesterday, the Optoma ex530 its beautiful!!! Its tiny and has great specs for such a small machine. We had to play with it of course and first watched an episode of Buffy - what better to test on it? Then we tried our installation - both good, though for reference, the Buffy DVDs colors were not the best though they are on our other projector. We'll try with another movie later on.

To the point... we were just setting up to try out projecting on the ceiling to get an idea of what the installation might look like, albeit upside down (its meant for floor projection) so we turned the projector to the ceiling and on the way, caught the eye of our beautiful 20" disco ball. The room exploded in lights and we quickly figured out a new and fantastic past time, disco ball painting.

Opening Paint in windows, Dzl started to draw shapes, colors, and lines on the disco ball, changing the light and reflections it cast around the room, suddenly reflections of circles, squiggles and beautiful colors danced around our ceilings. Guess what our next installation is? Video to follow.

Sep 13, 2009

Visiting N7331227 at Brandts!

N7331227, the ABB robot brought back to life with Illutron, has had been living a wonderful life, meeting new people everyday, taking a good look at them, and interacting with people, recognizing the visitor's drawings, and recreating them in light.

The robot uses Computer Vision to see people's drawings, and recreate them by pushing buttons on a wall which light up, corresponding to light bulbs, further down the line. The robot uses its vision to see if the light has been turned on, and if successful, moves on to the next light.

Since the N7331227 is a retired robot, having spend 30 years of its life grinding toilet seats, it might make a mistake now and then, but always corrects itself, and is irresistibly charming.

You can read about some of the beginnings of the reverse engineering of this robot here:

N7331227 will be living at Brandts art hall in Odense, Denmark until November 29, 2009. (Brandts)

Photos on Flickr:



Sep 3, 2009

BMSI Glove - Galvanic Skin Response and Heart Rate

A hand based sensor system to sense heart rate and galvanic skin response. Part of the biometric social interaction system designed by GeekPhysical.

Read more about it here:

Jul 19, 2009

Introducing Biometric Social Interaction

So its not anything new really, we've been exploring it for some time now and hopefully you've seen our post about our biometric jewelery. But now its organized and official, GeekPhysical is exploring Biometrics, specifically what we like to call Biometric Social Interaction, BSI.

We're doing a series of experiments, exploring how people's communication and attitudes change when they are aware of their biometric data and how it changes depending on their interactions with each other.

We think its fascinating that normally people use makeup, clothes, business cards, even cologne to present themselves but they cannot (normally) control their biometrics (heart rate, temperature, skin response, eeg). What if people were judged biometrically? Could be fun, and it is. Check out our newest blog, Biometric Social Interaction, you can also check in through the button at the top of this blog, entitled "Biometrics".

Jul 2, 2009

Ball of Jeans!

A huge ball of jeans, filling up the amazing Copenhagen Central Station, attracts tons of people for the release of 1500 pairs of ONLY jeans. Dzl of GeekPhysical, Zep and friends built the ball. More details to come! Photos below and on Flickr, video below and on Blip.


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Jun 24, 2009

Sparkfun Photoshoot in Vegas with Critical Corset

Our ad with, the fantastic trip to Vegas for a photoshoot on the strip has been released!

Even though we had had 2 hours sleep in 2 days, we, and I'm quite sure, some photoshop retouching, managed to turn geeking sexy with the Critical Corset - a corset which tightens when you're attracted to someone and your heart rate rises.

This was a fantastic trip and we had so much fun and it was great to show off the critical corset and all the mad machinery and programming behind it! See post below to get the whole story!

Jun 23, 2009


We needed an interesting father's day gift so we resurrected an old project, the LED art piece. Basically, 64 LEDs are soldered together, creating a grid. The programmed microcontroller displays a 64 X 64 photograph, edited for high contrast, black and white, and scrolls and zooms the photo across the 64 leds, each one lighting in turn to create the image. Video here:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Jun 11, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle, little LED...

Sequence LEDs
Originally uploaded by geekphysical
Sequence lighting LEDs was the project here, with an on/off toggle and tons of LEDs that needed to be lit for an exhibit. Beautiful video here!

ABB Robot's heart!

ABB Robot's heart.
Originally uploaded by geekphysical
The adventures of repairing, and reverse engineering the giant 1 ton ABB robot continues. Endless wires, insane programming, 5 axis of rotation and the tin man has almost got his heart!

Finally, we have achieved communication, controlling the axis from the computer AND getting positioning feedback...we're on our way!

In the news....

As part of completion for a Masters in Interaction Design, Vanessa set up a table at the Business to Buttons Conference in Malmo this week. The booth was made to show how easy tangible computing and rapid prototyping can be!

We made a simple interaction, a transistor intertwined with a LED, hooked up to a 9v, powered by people acting as the human resistor. It was a beautiful little interactive exhibit than literally ANYONE could make and even the Swedish news got excited about - see article here: We also posted up a little diagram of the LED/Transistor trick on Flickr, here:

GeekPhysical + SparkFun, IN VEGAS!

So our "Critical Corset" ( has received some attention. One of our focuses in the projects we do is of course, the "Physical" so how can we create interactions based on the physical body?

The corset project, in a nutshell, senses when the wearer's heart rate rises, and then tightens the corset, indicating to the wearer that they are attracted to someone. Of course, heart rate isn't the only signifier and as we discovered, is obviously affected by many other things, (hence we developed a super awesome biometric social interaction system which I'll post about later but...) in the meantime, Sparkfun heard about us. Sparkfun is the supplier of all wonderful electronic goodies that the world plays with and so it was great to hear from them, being interested in our project! It was even more great to learn that they wanted to do a photoshoot with us, featuring us in Make Magazine, Nuts and Volts, and two other superbly geeky magazines! We flew off to Vegas, had a GREAT four days with them, managed to geek, talk geek, and act ridiculously cool in Vegas and had a wonderful time exploring the madness that is Vegas.

We did the photoshoot in the middle of the Vegas strip, with cars whizzing by, Dzl in a Tuxedo with tails and me wearing the corset, and a bag full of electronics, and both of us admiring his MSI laptop. I can't wait to see the photos, and better yet, the ad!

Many thanks to AnnDrea, Nate and Chris, and Vegas! Who knew geeking could be so fantastic!?

Apr 30, 2009

Dundee HCIED 2009 Workshop

We taught a workshop at HCIED 2009 in Dundee this past week. There were five participants and all five, although new to Arduino, were experienced with computers so in no time at all they had some pretty fantastic set ups going including a joystick controlling two servos, and a stick which self corrected it's position based on an accelerometer.

We also had one participant who was blind and had both a helper dog and helper human. He is an experienced software engineer so programming was no problem and created a potentiometer controlling the movement of two servos which was interesting for him to tangibly interact with.

We had a great time at this workshop and learned a lot! We learned about Phigets, and played with those and Arduino, and found out that the Arduino software is not compatible with text readers (our blind participant couldn't "See" the program since it was an image not text. We'll have to mention that to the Arduino crew.

We also met a lot of great people at the workshop, all professors in HCI and Interaction design. Some interesting sites to visit: - A computer Science magazine geared towards kids who is led by a wonderful presenter, Dr. Paul Curzon who wow-ed us with his presentation on how to understand interaction. We also met a man from Australia, Jon Pearce who is working on interactive systems for learning and teaching, check out:

Many honorable mentions including:, a "no corporate bs!" game company and some really interesting talks that we enjoyed.

We had a great time, and thank HCIED and the participants for teaching us so much, and taking the time to learn about physical computing!

Photos of workshop can be seen on Flickr, here:

Mar 30, 2009

Aerial Laser Tag

Out flying with kids (model airplanes) buzzing them with the plane. they thought it was fun to try and hit the plane with sticks and whatnot. but obviously that's not good so they started thinking about having some kind of laser gun to shoot the plane with. thought about it, figured out it can be done with a laser pointer and a detector on the plane. The idea is real life Star Wars fun. The plane flying above will shoot people on the ground, and the people on the ground can fire at the plane. When hit, the people or the plane go 'down' and are out until there is only one person or plane left standing or flying. This game was invented by a few 8 year olds and we were determined to make it a reality!

Detecting a laser beam means distinguishing it from all other lights in environment. Decided to use a technique where we modulated the light from the laser pointer in a way that it could be distinguished from other light sources. the technique is called quadrature aperture sampling. this sensing technique is called quadrature aperture sampling. implies that you use a micro controller to measure the intensity of a light sensor at carefully selected intervals, meaning that we're measuring the light's frequency. imagine that we're blinking the laser really quickly if we sample the light sensor a number of times when the light is on and a number of times when the light is off and subtract those two, then we measure the difference in light intensity at a specific frequency whereas un-modulated ambient light is filtered out.

Read on...

More Photos Here:

Movie here:

Feb 21, 2009

Hide and Go Seek GPS Style

Hide and Go Seek. Age old game of one person hides, the other counts to to ten with eyes closed, and then goes to find person A who went to hide. Now add a radio signal, converted to GPS signal, a VHF radio, and a couple of geeky fruit cakes driving around following a giant arrow and you have our Friday night.

We first hooked up our tiny MSI U90 to a camera stand turned laptop holder in the car.

Then we hooked up the sound from the VHF radio which was receiving the radio signal, into the microphone jack of the computer. We plugged in the cute GPS unit (cute because its tiny) and stuck the USB part into the computer and the GPS transmitter to the dash.

We turned on our TomTom, using only the map function so we could see upcoming changes in the road and set about on our way. Following the giant arrow of knowledge, we drove approximately 25km and found our target, after making only one wrong turn and getting ourselves stuck on the wrong side of some railroad tracks. We arrived, 6 meters from our goal, a big radio tower at a friend's work. However, we were informed that this wasn't close enough so we had to park even closer, and reach the 1 meter point. We found our goal, a blinking red GPS unit, at the base of the tower generating the radio signal.

We then were going to head to said friend's house for dinner, and thought that instead of dumbly following his car (in the snow) we should... play hide and go seek. He changed his VHF radio to output a signal, and we fixed on it, and away we went. We followed him, lost him visually and were able to track him down despite him trying to trick us by pulling off the road and hiding on side roads. The signal was clear and our arrow true.

A fun night of radio and gps geekery. :)

See Flickr for photos.

Feb 19, 2009

Fun with Robot Building

GeekPhysical and Illutron did a workshop this week in Odense, teaching students all about Arduino, electronics, physical computing, using sensors, and building robots from RC Motors! We had a ton of fun, and were happy to see people being creative with their robot building.

Our robots consisted of servo motors, one small and one big, glued to each other with the smaller on top. This one had a stick glued to it which could be used to pick up objects. Participants were taught using Pure Data and the pduino interface so they could easily associate the programming with what they were doing.

Our next goal is to build a patch that allows sensors AND the servo to be connected at the same time, so that we can use sensors to control the servo! In the meantime, check out to see what the next day, and a couple of guys crazy about computer vision used the robots for. Hint, control a robot with fruit! Woohoo!

Video on bliptv here:

Flickr Set here:

Feb 14, 2009

MSI Wind Power Supply, reimagined, rebuilt.

There is possibly nothing more annoying than having your power supply weigh more than your computer. This isn't EXACTLY the case with the MSI Wind U90 but it very nearly is. As such, it was ridiculous to carry around the power supply it came with, since the power supply took up more room in my bag than the computer did.

We found a 24V AC Adapter, which although the MSI suggests 20V it runs fine on 24V. (These are readily available at any electronics store). Then the connector was changed to one that would fit the MSI, a standard DC connector. An easy do-it-yourself project, we hope we can pass on the knowledge to other MSI owners.

While we were at it, we thought making the MSI available for long car trips would be great. We made a boost converter, boosting from 12V in the car to the 20V needed for the MSI. Rather than using a standard power supply integrated circuit (chip) we decided to use a microcontroller so that we can add intelligent battery protection. The microcontroller generates the pwm signals for the boost converter and measures input and output voltages. It checks the input signal and only turns on the output only if the car battery is over 13V - meaning either the engine is running or you have a really good battery. If the car battery goes below 11V (a problem in our slightly used car) it will shut off the power supply to the laptop.

Schematic and do-it-yourself instructions coming soon.

Robot from household materials

CDs? Check. Mouse? Check. Tires from toys? Yep. Okay you're ready to make a robot. It might require a couple more parts, (Arduino board, servo motor) but not much! Its a fully functional self-guiding robot that uses a computer mouse as its vision, and a CD as its body. A work of art, and a new friend/pet all in one.

Using an optical mouse for navigation, modified servos for propulsion, and a lens on mouse sensor to track movements in the surroundings, this robot studies the use of optical flow for robotic navigation.

Revolving pictures, a DMX/MAX/MSP/Motor job

Flying to Spain for two days was a good excuse for tapas and red wine. However, our goal was instead to get a large art installation up and running on a much simpler system than it currently did. This wasn't our first encounter with this project, it first needed a system to run motors which turned giant picture frames, as they turned they aligned to create a beautiful story complete with audio story teller. Once the motor system was in place, it was time for an integrated DMX controller to take care of the sound, lights and motors all in one shot.

Giving an ABB Robot Life (Again)

After happening across 4 giant 1 ton ABB robots, we decided to reverse-engineer them to figure out how they work, and how they can be reprogrammed. This involves the solving of generalized servo-loop problems and creating new hardware for them so they can move again.

The robots used to live a dreary life, grinding toilets, and were decommissioned. We rescued four of them and managed to pull of their arms and start looking at their insides. Horrible sounding, but a fun job that's going to be more fun once they start working!

Right now, we've got the motor turning via potentiometer. When the potentiometer turns, the motor turns.