Jannae Jacks

Arthur, your desktop Twitter companion

Twitter brings Arthur to life, and Arthur brings Twitter to life.


Introduction to Physical Computing

Arthur is an Arduino/Processing/web-based robot that receives commands and sends tweets via the Twitter interface. Through a series of hash tag commands, he will blink, dance, wave, and send love right before your eyes. He can also return your tweet to let you know he heard you, and he tweets on his own throughout the day when he gets bored. Fun for the whole family!

Robot cuteness aside, the amplification and/or personification of communicating across distances is a field of interest of mine. Yes, the internet is vast and full of life, but that life is largely still and silent. The days of one-way communication are fast disappearing, and the need for broadening the possibilities and forms of telecommunication are coming into focus.

Mostly, the unintentionally lonely people of the world. Also, just people that like to play with robots.

User Scenario
Arthur sits on a desk, or a shelf, and is activated by someone who will be alone for an undetermined period of time. that person can press arthur's blue tweet button and have him begin tweeting out to the world. People following Arthur can then begin to send him commands to offer entertainment/company/distraction/etc. to the person who is with Arthur. The people on the other side of Twitter can expect responses to their commands, and follow the commands of others through Arthur's mention feed. Entertainment ensues.

Arthur himself is a Sparkfun box containing an Arduino, two servos, a button, a handful of LEDs and a pretty impressive internal skeletal framework. From the software side, Arthur is controlled by a custom-built Twitter/OAuth/PHP/MySQL/jQuery <-> Processing/serial <-> Arduino/serial code base. these three packages are constantly talking to one another as Processing pings php/twitter for new commands, and then sends them via serial to the Arduino when received. The Arduino will also listen for user interactions (the button press) to then send the command through Processing to Twitter in order for Arthur to Tweet for you.

This project finally served to get my head outside of the internet and a computer for the first time since my arrival at ITP. I've never been much of a "maker," I'd consider myself much more comfortable on the coding side, so I haven't had too much experience with the idea of interaction through anything but a myriad of computational interfaces. This has kind of opened up a whole new world. I'll admit learning something as brand new as this at this point in my career has been nothing short of incredibly painful, but the benefits and return have been astounding.