The Music App of Things with XBee and Arduino

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With the development of low-cost / low-power / Internet-enabled sensors that can live inside physical objects, there’s an interesting opportunity to rethink what a “button” might look like. As a recent hack, I wired up a wine bottle to act as a “thematic button” for our office’s communal music player. Here’s how it works…

A highlight of Revolution in the Valley, Andy Hertzfeld’s first-hand account of the development of the Apple Macintosh, is the window into a first attempt at designing a computer with a mouse and a graphical user interface.

When even basic concepts like “point-and-click” would be completely unfamiliar to users, the team needed a way to clearly communicate functionality within a brand new control scheme. Beyond simply slapping text on a rectangle, it was a chance to reimagine what a “button” could be.

A critical implementation was the use of the desktop metaphor. Building upon concepts developed at Xerox PARC, action buttons and item buttons were modeled after familiar office objects like folders and trashcans, which quickly made their functionality clear.

Polaroids documenting the evolution of the Mac / Lisa user interface, with buttons modeled after desktop objects (click to enlarge)

Polaroids documenting the evolution of the Mac / Lisa user interface, with buttons modeled after desktop objects (click to enlarge).

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