Beyond the Joystick: Introduction to Alternative Physical Interfaces


This workshop led by Eyebeam Fellow Kaho Abe is for artists, designers and hobbyists interested in starting to think about and explore alternative physical interfaces that can be used in games, toys or interactive art projects.

This workshop series is sold out: Please join our email list to find out when we will offer the next one.

Thinking beyond the traditional screen, keyboard and mouse interface, as well as the traditional gaming controller, we will utilize tools including the Arduino development system, simple low-tech switches and sensors to create custom physical interfaces to enhance the user experience. And later on in the workshop, we will learn about combining Processing with the Arduino for a richer experience.

This Tuesday workshop series will consist of 6 workshop sessions. Students can sign up for whatever workshop is of interest for $40 each, or register for the entire series for $200 ($40 discount). Note: workshops will become increasingly more advanced along the course of the series. Those who have never worked with physical computing are welcome, however please make sure the prerequisite is satisfied before coming to the workshop.

This class will run from June 28–August 2. All workshops will take place at Eyebeam on Tuesdays, from 6-9PM.

Participants must come with a working Arduino development board (preferably the Arduino Uno, Duemilanove or Diecimila) and should have already set up the Arduino software on his/her laptop/computer and uploaded the Blink sketch as explained here — This is not difficult to do, so if this is your first time working with the Arduino, do not fear!

1. Arduino Development Board (Uno, Duemilanove or Diecimila) *
2. Breadboard *
3. Jumper wire set *
4. USB cable to connect Arduino to a laptop/computer *†
5. Your laptop with Arduino software already set up (there are very limited numbers of computers available if you do not have a laptop)

* If you don’t have any of the material above, the Budget Pack for Arduino [] from Adafruit is highly recommended.

† We have a limited number of computers available for use.

Kaho Abe
 currently is a fellow at Eyebeam where she researches and builds games that utilize technology to bring people together face to face. Some of her projects include Hit Me!, Mary Mack 5000 and Ninja Shadow Warrior. Kaho’s work is largely focused on improving social and personal experiences through the use of technology, fashion and games. She has shown her projects in various shows and conferences in New York, Boston, San Jose, London, Tokyo, Osaka and Beijing. Kaho’s projects have also appeared or been discussed in I.D. Magazine, Kill Screen Magazine, CNET News, NBC, NY1 and Asahi Shimbun. Learn more about Kaho.


All workshops will take place at Eyebeam on Tuesdays, from 6-9PM.
Individual workshops are $40 each, or you can can sign-up for all 6 for $200 ($40 discount)
This workshop series is sold out: Please join our email list to find out when we will offer the next one.


June 28
In this workshop session, we will learn about the Arduino, coding chips, and basic circuit board construction using a breadboard. Through working with push buttons and LED’s (light emitting diodes), a simple quiz game show interface will be made.


July 5

In this workshop session, we will learn about analog sensors and how they can be used as a switch with Arduino code. We will also make paper candle bend sensors from scratch, and work with tone generation on the Arduino to make an interactive birthday toy.


July 12

In this workshop session, we will discuss various ways physical and screen-based experiences can work together by introducing Processing and how it can be connected to Arduino. We will also modify a piezo speaker to become a vibration sensor, and finally will use the examples to create a physical interface that measures levels of anger.


i can see clearly now imageJuly 19

In this workshop session, we will explore creative uses of low-tech sensors to produce effects that may otherwise seem more complex. We will explore Processing further with examples of animation and video used with the Arduino. We will then make a installation with a pair of glasses, a light sensor and video/animation clips. ** Bring any cheap plastic eyeglass frame you might have — those 3D glasses you get at the cinema can work!


hand swatting game imageJuly 26
In this workshop session, we will learn that fabric can be sensors too. With conductive fabric, flexible wire, Processing and the Arduino, our clothing can become an interface. We will make special gloves to enhance the popular children’s hand slapping game. Get ready to do some basic sewing.


i am flying bear imageAugust 2

In this workshop session, we will look at a demonstration of accelerometers. We will then make a teddy bear controller using tilt sensors and the Arduino to navigate through 3-D terrain created with Processing. Up, up and away! **Bring old stuffed animals if you have any or pick one up from the dollar store on your way over!



six-pack of classesJune 28 – August 2
All Six Workshop Sessions – Buy 6 for the Price of 5

Get the complete experience that will introduce you to making physical interfaces and alternative controls using the Arduino and various switches and sensors.