Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Techfest 09 and the Arduino

I was in mumbai over the weekend, attending Techfest 2009 at IIT Bombay. Techfest has been a large and great event for many years now, bringing cutting edge technology to students and holding great lectures by iconic people in technology.

Me and three of my friends went specifically to attend the Physical Computing workshop by Keyur Sorathia, an interaction designer. This was my first foray into hardware hacking, mainly because hardware components are not so accessible in India.

On day one, we hacked a keyboard, figured out which pins pressed which key and connected a tilt sensor to do the same. Then we popped them into an helmet. Unfortunately, soldering wasn't our strong point and although the helmet worked, we couldn't wear it on our head. Keyur also showed us videos about various which aim to make computer interaction more like interacting with real objects.

Day two, and we finally got our hands on the Arduino. The Duemilanove is the latest iteration of Arduino and we had fun programming LEDs to light up on key presses. Of course we didn't get to see all of the Arduino's magic in a two day workshop. But we did get infrared sensors, peizo sensors and buttons to mess around with, which I'll start using soon.

On day three, the workshop unofficially over, we first saw Robot Wars, which was a bit of a disappointment because one of the machines got stuck and didn't move much for the remainder of the match. Then we attended an interesting lecture by Rhythm and Hues. Directi had a booth where they had 3 C snippets and visitors had to predict the output. Two out of the three were pretty tough, but I managed to answer 2/3 and got myself a T-shirt that says <geek> on the front and </geek> on the back.

Nissan concept car Pivo2

Due to our train and other schedules, we were unable to attend Technoholix on any of days, which was bad. So next year I'm gonna take off more time and stay at Techfest and attend all the great events.