Not the classic product design, this powerful enabler brings physical computer interactions a step closer to the masses.
Teagueduino is an open source hardware platform that makes building interactive things—from experiments and games, to classroom projects and prototypes—easier. Writing code and wiring up circuits are becoming necessary tools for communities around the world, yet the technical challenges of learning to use such tools remain a barrier to entry for non-specialists. Teagueduino makes digital electronics more accessible by offering solder-less assembly, fail-proof coding, and a community of resources for support.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Tools and platforms for electronics that enable exploration and learning are typically complex. Even tools designed to increase access, such as Arduino, are often only accessible to a quasi-technical crowd already familiar with electronics and/or writing code.
Teagueduino addressed several challenges:
Confusion. The unending additions of widgets, apps and other complicated add-ons can make electronic devices frustrating to operate, and interfere with the overall functionality. Additionally, connecting electronic devices, widgets and add-ons with Arduino often requires soldering—increasing the complexity of a DIY project.
Complexity. Because a lot of electronics can be confusing and obscure, programming is a significant challenge; experienced programmers are needed to facilitate intensively coded electronics, leaving beginners in the lurch.
Community. Technology has shifted from fixed programming to open and crowd-sourced programming. Easily accessible data is not only in high demand for technical savants, but also with the DIY community. The ability to Google a resource continues to thrive; however, the ease-of-use can still be a challenge when it comes to sifting through crowd-sourced data.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Teagueduino was created to make programming and hardware development accessible, and easier to understand for non-programmers and non-hardware people.
In addition to providing simple plug-and-play connectors, a clean user interface, and a community website for sharing and exploration, Teagueduino was built to grow with the user; the main control board can be re-purposed as an Arduino when projects and skills become more advanced.
Criteria and considerations:
Simplicity. Teagueduino creates project sharing that’s always accessible online and that can be viewed during any stage of the process. Since everything changes in real-time, there’s no waiting for things to compile or the device to reset.
Scalability. Beginners can jump in without needing to know how to solder or write code. On teagueduino.org tutorials have been set up for wiring up custom sensors and outputs. For software writers, there are Arduino project templates added to help them migrate their work into C programming. And for the truly advanced, the main control board (Teensy++) can be popped off the Teagueduino board for full-out embedded development.
Exploration. Everything is built from the ground up to support a low floor (very easy to get started), wide walls (lots of things you can do), and a high ceiling (capable of very advanced projects as needs grow).
Education. Teagueduino was created with education in mind. Teachers can browse projects in related fields to get ideas about where to start, and build interactive experiments in real-time with students to increase understanding and engagement.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Teagueduino started as an experiment looking into ways to make embedded development and programming easy and more accessible to the design and education communities. A quick prototype was built that consisted of a simple, real-time platform that allowed code to be modified while the program was running permitting designers to immediately view feedback as their projects took shape. After three rounds of internal prototyping, workshops, and testing, Teagueduino was launched on Kickstarter and with a goal of $22,000 raised over $75,000 in funding for the first round of limited edition kits.
Each aspect of the programming software was carefully considered to provide a simple, informative interface that helps users learn to program without requiring prior knowledge of technical code-writing skills. Using a combination of iconic graphics, real-time feedback, sparkline data graphs, and drop-down menu programming, Teagueduino users are empowered to jump right in and start making interactive projects, while learning the basics of code as they explore.
Interaction design was also used in developing the teagueduino.org website as a resource for Teagueduino users—a simple and bold interface that brings a sense of playfulness and curiosity to the experience. In addition, color palettes were carefully considered to ensure accessibility for color-blind users.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The value of Teagueduino is in its unique ability to bridge the gap between DIY and a digital hack. By simplifying the basics of Arduino and its components, complex coding and accessibility, Teagueduino makes making things much easier for everyone.
Designed with classroom education in mind, Teagueduino amplifies the act of tinkering, proving an easy platform for learning that encourages experimentation to inspire a new generation of makers and electronic enthusiasts.
Teagueduino also increases sharing and engagement across its user community by appealing to all experience levels from beginners to the advanced.