1. Overview

While designers have traditionally been tasked with the creation of standalone objects there is an increasing demand towards systems-oriented design. In the broadest sense, systems-oriented design refers to the creation of processes and devices capable of interacting and communicating with each other. In this class we will explore systems thinking via the metaphor of creating an ecology of devices, each exhibiting a discernible personality (imagine them as animals, for example). Such a metaphor is a common one employed by designers charged with designing a component of a larger system.

Strategies for creating an ecology will be presented and deployed via the Raspberry Pi 3 platform, simultaneously providing students with basic approaches to embedded computing. Students will be challenged to constrain their exploration of these topics to the medium of sound (within the SuperCollider 3 programming language), ultimately designing a sound-making process capable of sending and receiving messages in order to contribute to a jungle environment.

SuperCollider 3

Supercollider 3, often referred to as simply SuperCollider or SC, is an environment for sound design and composition used by musicians, artists, and researchers. It is a free, open source, high-level programming language.

Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a single-board computer running the Linux operating system. It is as powerful as an average smartphone and costs about $40 (!!!!!). The Raspberry Pi 3 (often referred to as RPi or Pi for short) is capable of connecting to the internet, creating and manipulating media (video or sound), responding to sensor input, acting as a server, and a variety of other uses. In short, anything you can do with a computer you can do with a Pi.

The Pi, a micro-computer, is a more complex device than the Arduino, a microcontroller. While the Arduino is an excellent device for interfacing with electronics or the real world, it is not capable of manipulating sound/video or connecting to the internet unless one purchases additional equipment (often doubling one's project budget). The Pi, on the other hand, can do all of these things out of the box without additional equipment.


parallel development environments

We will work across two environments to complete prototypes:

  1. Laptop: your primary work space, you should always start developing your idea by writing code on your laptop to confirm general functionality.
  2. Raspberry Pi: move your generally-functional code to your Raspberry Pi for platform-specific tests and, eventually, deployment.

In other words, I recommend doing most of your programming on your laptop and moving to the pi only after you have confirmed basic functionality.