Nowadays, Arduino and 3D printers are frequently used for the rapid prototyping of interactive systems related to the internet of things and smart home. 3D printers are used for building pieces, which are then assembled and eventually made interactive exploiting components connected to Arduino (e.g. sensors, servos, lights). However, although Arduino and 3D printers are remarkable for making prototypes, they are not so suitable for designing them. The design is a preceding stage: without (at least a bit of) design, there can be no innovative making. Moreover, design is usually carried out doing trials and errors. Therefore, design tools should be flexible and quickly adaptable to any unexpected change of environment. With the aim to make the design stages of prototyping easier and more flexible, I designed Protobject, a rapid prototyping tool able to add interactivity to existing stationary objects letting makers and designers reinvent their usage. In fact, Protobject, which works as a multipurpose camera-based sensor, is able to recognize visually observable properties of any stationary object around us (e.g. white goods, lights, windows, doors, curtains). In particular, Protobject can sense their state (e.g., lights on/off) and users’ interactions with them (e.g. when turning on a light). Protobject allows users to save money and time during the design stages of interactive prototypes in the fields of internet of things, home automation and tangible interfaces.
External link: Protobject
Two illustrative usage scenarios:
1. A smart umbrella stand.
2. An energy saving tool.