OcularSynth – Interfacing Arduino and Processing


Basically interfacing an Arduino with Processing via Firmata. Reference found here. I named the title of the Processing application as Synthscape, this reads the inputs from the Arduino and creates these events which correspond to the imagery. It is also inspired by the synthesizer and also electronic music, the frame-rate relates to the timing of 16 beats per second.

The OcularSynth pays tribute to music synthesizers because that type of interaction inspired the idea that there needs to be something for the visually inclined, and there aren’t many devices that offer that style of interaction, where one can simply pick up and play. The fundamental idea that now the ocular fiend can now jam like a musician, no commitment of pencil to paper, just free flowing consciousness.

How it works:

In the gap where you place your finger to ‘play’ the synthesizer there is an RGB LED strip hidden under one side and light sensors on the other, I could have used IR-Sensors but I wanted to give the user the feeling that they are in fact drawing with light. Photography, Lighting, and Cinematography are considered methods in which one draws with light. The OcularSynth has an organic feel, that one controls the light, and also in terms of haptic feedback people are well aware that they are casting shadows. In general people have a fairly good idea about how things work, or at least a feeling associated to how different things work, regardless of their technical understanding of electronics, therefore their understanding or feeling towards how the OcularSynth functions is significantly influenced by the fact that it deals with light.

The Firmata allows the Arduino to send all input sensor values to Processing. I found the Firmata a little frustrating to work with as there hasn’t been much development on it in recent years. It makes your Arduino somewhat restricted and Processing seems to have only limited control over it. Like the blind leading the stupid.

This was my final project for the Physical Computing MDDN251 course at Victoria University of Wellington, 2014.


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