Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Screen Your Genome Under $512, Open Sourcing Biology With OpenPCR

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Most of people working in the field of biological or scientific research should greet the open hardware applications we are  witnessing in this age of Garage Science. From the Phduino to the DIY Oscilloscopes, through  STM (Scanning-Tunneling Electron Microscope), Arduino is getting used to prototype tools that used to be more expensive and possibly unavailable some years ago.

OpenPCR is an amazing project aimed to bring the genome analysis to a desktot experience. From the “What Is OpenPCR?” page:

What can you do with it?

Cool apps include:

  • DNA Sequencing – PCR is used to generate enough DNA for the sequencing run. You can have a look at some of your own genome!
  • DNA Barcoding – Determining the species based on DNA. Can be used to identify plants, screen for agricultural pests, investigate airplane bird strikes, and check that sushi is legit. What about testing your food to see if they contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)?

The Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, is a method of replicating DNA. It is capable of taking a small amount of DNA, or even a single molecule, and amplifying (copying) a specific region exponentially, such that once the reaction is finished, there may exist up to 230 copies of each starting molecule (do the math — that’s more than a billion!).

This is important because DNA of interest often exists in quantities too small to detect, or may be mixed in with other DNA. For example, an accurate test for HIV must be able to detect a single virus particle in 50,000 cells. PCR is able to do this by targeting a small region of DNA that is specific to the HIV virus. If the virus exists in a sample, amplification will occur which can be easily detected. If no virus is present, no amplification will occur.

The specific region of targeted DNA is determined by how the reaction is setup, based on the specific “PCR primers” added to the reaction mixture. Virtually any sequence of DNA can be targeted.

if you still have some questions and / or want to know more about PCR have a look at this wonderful & explanatory graphics.

[See it in action!] via []

Hardware Hack Takes Control of Your Hand aka the PossessedHand

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Ever wanted to take control of your (or better, sombody else’s) body via electrical signals, University of Tokyo’s research exprerimented about this.

The experimental device is actually called the PossessedHand, and controls your digits by shooting small electric currents into your wrist via electrodes strapped to your forearm. The PossessedHand runs on an Arduino micro-controller, and can auto calibrate itself to make sure it is twitching the corrects fingers and muscles inside your hand.


Extreme Electric Racing With MIT eSuperbike, Arduino Controlled

Monday, June 13th, 2011

MIT PhD student Lennon Rodgers and his team of colleagues was among the 32 teams who entered this year’s all-electric race, bringing their custom-designed eSuperbike to the famous competition on the small island located between Ireland and Great Britain.

The brains of the bike are housed in an Arduino circuit board, which monitors data including the amount of energy used and the temperatures of each motor and battery. A screen on the dashboard continuously displays readings, allowing the rider to adjust the speed to conserve energy if needed. As a backup, the team made the system wireless, streaming data from the bike to their laptops — a modification the team’s rider, veteran Isle of Man racer and resident Allan Brew, appreciated.

via [MIT news]

Bat Goggles For Visually Impaired From USI

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

It seems like part of the Arduino projects lately hang around “visually impaired” solutions. This is the research from Alex Tomic form USI in Lugano.

The “Bat Goggles” are a general-purpose set of visual aids to assist those with low or no vision to sense obstacles. While the original project envisioned the sensors being attached as part of a helmet or eyeglasses, after experimentation it was determined that the tool is much more useful if the proximity sensors are movable, allowing them to be placed on the hands, feet, knees, or any other extremity. This allows more flexibility in exploration of environments and extending the effective range of the extremity.

In a free-moving use case, the user holds sensors in each hand. The proximity sensors serve as a virtual extension of the user’s hand, allowing him or her to check for the existence of objects without touching them. This can be useful in situations where it may be desirable to detect delicate objects that could be damaged if touched with excessive force (eg. a vase or lamp).

Check out project and review(pdf).

via [AlexTomicProjectPage]

MIT Technology Review On Arduino

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Technology Review of March/April 2011 has an article about the Arduino written by Erica Naone.

As electronic devices got more complicated in the past few decades, it became increasingly difficult and expensive to tinker with hardware. The 1970s garage engineers who built their own computers gave way to geeks who programmed their own software. But now the rise of open-source hardware is paving the way for a return of build-it-yourself electronics. Creators can start with devices such as the Arduino, an inexpensive control board that’s easy to program and can hook up to a wide variety of hardware. People can create projects that range from blinking light shows to more sophisticated efforts such as robotics. The Arduino started with designers in Italy, who license the boards to manufacturers and distributors that sell official versions for less than $50. The Arduino designers freely share the specifications for anyone to use, however, and third-party manufacturers all over the world offer versions of their own, sometimes optimized for specific purposes.

Magazine stories are paid, so unless you subscribe you won’t have the pleasure to read the article.

via [Massimo's morning twitts] source [Technology Review]

Gameduino Brings Vintage Gaming Back

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

If Kickstarter is nowadays best place to find new (or upcoming) toys to dream about, Gameduino is probably one of the most amazing pieces of hardware I’ve seen hosted there. The shield mounts its own FPGA able of 80ies style graphics and sounds for creating old-school, 8-bit video-games, pre-loaded with numerous sprites and set up for easy connection to a VGA display.

Gameduino is a game adapter for Arduino – or anything else with an SPI interface – built as a single shield that stacks up on top of the Arduino and has plugs for a VGA monitor and stereo speakers.

The sound and graphics are definitely old-school, but thanks to the latest FPGA technology, the sprite capabilities are a step above those in machines from the past.

  • video output is 400×300 pixels in 512 colors
  • all color processed internally at 15-bit precision
  • compatible with any standard VGA monitor (800×600 @ 72Hz)
  • background graphics
    • 512×512 pixel character background
    • 256 characters, each with independent 4 color palette
    • pixel-smooth X-Y wraparound scroll
  • foreground graphics
    • each sprite is 16×16 pixels with per-pixel transparency
    • each sprite can use 256, 16 or 4 colors
    • four-way rotate and flip
    • 96 sprites per scan-line, 1536 texels per line
    • pixel-perfect sprite collision detection
  • audio output is a stereo 12-bit frequency synthesizer
  • 16 independent voices 10-4000 Hz
  • per-voice sine wave or white noise

Have a look at the nice reference poster, its detailed hardware reference or its set of sample programs and library.

support this project on [Kickstarter], via [CrunchGear] [BoingBoing] source [ExCamera]

Image Deblurring via sensor data

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Neel Joshi, Sing Bing Kang, C. Lawrence Zitnick, and Richard Szeliski from Microsoft Research presented a paper at the SIGGRAPH 2010 conference in Los Angeles where they introduced image treatment algorithms using sensor information gathered by an Arduino board (3 gyroscopes and a 3 axis accelerometer) to compensate errors introduced while shooting a camera due to the movement of the capturing device. Their article can be downloaded directly from Microsoft Research’s website; you will find their PDF there, but also the slideshow they used to introduce their work, and some examples of the application of their correction algorithms to some pictures.


image teaser from Microsoft Research

(c) 2010 Microsoft Research


As mentioned in this article at PC-Magazine, which was our source:

The four researchers named in the study managed to construct their hardware sensor package completely off-the-shelf, using a combination of one three-axis accelerometers, three gyroscopes, and a Bluetooth radio all wired to an open-source Arduino controller.

“Our method is completely automatic, handles per-pixel, spatially-varying blur, and out-performs the current leading image-based methods,” reads the accompanying paper.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that uses 6 [degrees-of-freedom] inertial sensors for dense, per-pixel spatially-varying image deblurring and the first work to gather dense ground-truth measurements for camera-shake blur.”


Life Cycle Assessment of Duemilanove

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Caroline Brown, an ITP student in Jennifer Van der Meer’s class, is trying to do a life cycle assessment on the Duemilanove, to determine its environmental impact.  I think it’s an interesting idea, since I’ve never seen an LCA done on a module like the Arduino. I’ve seen a few on commercial products, but never on development tools.

She’s currently collecting info on how you use your boards and how long they stay in use. If you’re interested, her survey is online here. It’s anonymous.

This is a very short project she’s doing (only a few weeks long), so the results may not be conclusive, but nevertheless, I hope it’ll reveal enough about the environmental impact to delve into more assessment in the future. It’d be great to learn something about how to minimize the impact of what we do.

Research projects with Arduino?

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

The question keeps popping up: is Arduino used by non-artists and non-geeks? Is Arduino used in e.g. engineering education programs? Or … is Arduino part of a research project?

The fact is that there are many projects out there that use Arduino and related initiatives as quick prototyping tools. Already during 2006, in the early stages of the project, the Casteldefels campus from the Catalunya Polytechnics reported being using Arduino as part of a PhD course in engineering. Dan Steingart post-doc at Berkeley has been using it as a substitute to much more expensive gear, and created Ardustat together with a whole series of software tools dividing the cost of a pretty good galvanometer by a factor 10. We get reports from people using it in very many different fields from medicine to fashion design, including the very relevant open source fabrication of physical goods by the RepRap project.

image copyright by Dan Steingart

image copyright (c) 2007 by Dan Steingart

Dan Steingart, happens to be co-owner of WIT, a wireless sensor company aiming the industrial market. Seems that his love for open source laboratories is shared by that other company -Libelium- that has just launched In one of their posts they explain in depth in a series of videos how to construct you own Squidbee platform out of an Arduino board, the Arduino XBee shield, and a bunch of sensors. Beyond the practical aspects of that instructable, is an international research group with academic researchers and entrepreneurs from Spain, South Africa, and Sweden.

libelium´s Squidbee instructable

image copyright (c) 2008 by Libelium

Next time anybody asks if Arduino is used for anything else than making Art installations and Design projects at university courses, the quick answer is that there are companies and research groups around the world using it, embracing the open tools philosophy, and openly documenting the work they do.

Are you using Arduino as part of a research project? Are you developing products on top of Arduino? We would love to hear about it. Help us promoting your work :-) Feel free to post a comment to this article.