IoT Field – Exploration, Inspiration and Ideas

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications.[1] The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid.[2]

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters,[3] automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue.[4] Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.

  1. J. Höller, V. Tsiatsis, C. Mulligan, S. Karnouskos, S. Avesand, D. Boyle: From Machine-to-Machine to the Internet of Things: Introduction to a New Age of Intelligence. Elsevier, 2014, ISBN 978-0-12-407684-6.
  2. O. Monnier: A smarter grid with the Internet of Things. Texas Instruments, 2013.


The aim of my field module – IoT – is to produce a an interactive object or artwork by the end.


Footfalls (2006, by Tmema [Golan Levin & Zachary Lieberman]) is an interactive audiovisual installation in which the stomping of the visitors’ feet creates cascading avalanches of bouncy virtual forms.

The website is a good source of inspiration for interactive projects.

One of the ideas I have had is to make an interactive drawing machine. I have been interested in making a drawing machine for some time now, after first seeing them in maker and art circles online. I would like to find a way of coupling a drawing machine with a real time scanner with a sound/music generating aspect also. This would fit into all aspects of my field module, meaning that allowing me to combine AR, scanning, Raspberry Pie and programming, soundscapeing and maybe even 3D printing. I will post some sketches, inspirations and possible resources for this idea on this blog soon.

eske rex: drawing machine

This machine I found on , eske rex: drawing machine. Two towers weighted with pendulums create elaborate ink spirograph images. This is an example of a large scale analog machine.

long distance art: robot simultaneously draws in three cities

Long distance art: robot simultaneously draws in three cities.

portrait pantograph invites public to draw faces on a window

Portrait pantograph invites public to draw faces on a window.


Other sources of inspiration and ideas that I have looked at or frequent, some are education resources and project sharing websites.

Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.

learn pyton the hard

Matt Mills: Image recognition that triggers augmented reality aug(de)mented reality

Valentina Gonzalez Wohlers- Form Follows Function

Valentina is Mexican and lives in London near her studio. She describes her work as furniture and products with narrative – objects with stories.

After graduating from industrial design in Mexico Valentina attended Saint Martin’s Art and Design and got an MA.
After setting up her own business it has steadily grown she now has work presence in America Europe and Australia.

The Cactus Chair.

Her inspiration and creativity comes from her roots- Mexico, the people, the places, tradition and current trends. She believes it is important to be in touch with your roots as a creative practitioner. How aware am I of my roots what can I draw on for my work?

Valentina gave some advice to the audience: don’t worry about the market or the user or the outcome, the main thing is just to design. Make and create. When you are happy making everything else follows. Just make sure to explore all resources, all ideas and possibilities, all materials. Just find a way to do what you want to do even if you have lots of limitations.

3-D Scanning Lecture and Workshop with Ingrid Murphy

Ingrid began today’s session with a short lecture about her work and its relation (continually changing) relationship to technology. The rate of technological advancement is astounding with incredible leaps being made every few months in several fields at once. One thing that came across in the lecture was a desire to place her work well into the field of “technologically related art-work” (My own clumsy term there). To be a part of rapidly accelerating fields such as the 3-D scanning, 3-D printing and augmented reality. It’s an exciting time to be a creative practitioner or artist equipt with good computing and technological knowledge which can be used to manipulate the world and objects we have around us. I want to consider some of these themes and ideas for my dissertation.

I felt for some time that I want to better understand this young new technological world that is evolving around us, how it works, how to use it, how to manipulate it for myself and others. It’s important to me now that I learn to code at least to a basic ability, learn how to apply physical computing to the real world and allow new technologies into my creative practise whether it be integral to the process or the outcome. Ingrid’s lecture today reinforced these thoughts and ideas that I’ve been having and I left the session feeling quite uplifted and inspired.

Notes from lecture to expand upon and research

  • MOOK
  • RFID
  • Spime – research of Bruce Sterling
  • Postscapes – IoT website
  • Michael Edan – 3D printing and craftsman
  • Sculpturis – a modelling programme
  • Sketchfab – of which I am now a member since this afternoon.

Stuff to look at for next week:

  • Aurasma – set up an account
  • Augment – good for 3-D models
  • – paid for AR app/service?

We used the Sense 3D scanner today. It is a handheld unit. A bit temperamental when your unpractised with it but when you got it right the scan came out pretty well. The only thing I had a problem with was the lighting and moving the unit steadily. Once the scan was complete it was sent into mesh-mixer where holes were patched and the object file made solid. From there it is exported to Makerbot and then 3D printed on a Makerbot Replicator 2. The print went badly half way through, I will try it again sometime soon if I get time.


Enamel Test Pieces

The copper enamel sample pieces that I made a while ago now have been left in a solution of vinegar and salt all day to clean the oxidation off them, after this soak they were rinsed and then put into cold pickle for a while. I wanted to coat each sample piece in a layer of white enamel on which to work out some of my copper/enamel designs on.


Enameling set up

Whilst pickling the copper sample pieces I ground up some opaque white jewellers enamel from Cooksongold (646) to make it fine enough to make a liquid enamel with it.  This took around ten minutes to get it as fine as I wanted. In retrospect I maybe would grind it finer still as It did not hold in suspension very well. I added small amounts of water till it was a creamy consistency.

I removed the copper samples and applied the enamel quickly and evenly to every piece. Next time I will make it thicker as it took a very long time to dry and settled into a patchy pattern as there was to much water in the mix.

After these had dried and the kiln reached temperature, I began firing, my first few were a bit dodgy and the last pretty good. I experimented with different firing timings the longest being 4 mins with very smooth layer but with burning out edges. The first few came out pretty textured like ‘orange peel’ I will keep a few of these to experiment on but for most of the pieces I want a flat surface on which to try out my designs over a base white coat. I added backing enamel to most, I have a few more to re front enamel and a few left to back.


Burn out and dis-colouration.

Two of the sample pieces are medal shaped so as to get an idea for the size and look of my ‘Jewellery Medal’ I think I prefer the 3-inch sized one. I am considering a fold formed medal with enamel.

I also tried out enamelling a couple of small steel screw washer/grippers I got from a flea market, I have a couple of bags of them and I am considering how I might use them to make some jewellery pieces. They seemed to take the enamel well, I look forward to experimenting with them further.


Close up of backing enamel, made up of waste enamel powder.


Disks are medal ideas/mock-ups.


Some pieces need grinding back and re-enamelling.


3-D Scanning : Pre-Lecture and Workshop Research

Tomorrow I will be having 3-D scanning session with Ingrid Murphy. This post is covering my background research before that session. I hope to utilize scanning in my work and so I am interested as to what kinds of scanning there are, what’s out there, how I could use it, what’s possible and what sorts of software I could learn. I’m particularly interested in open-source software and applications.

My first port of call was Wikipedia for a short definition : “A 3D scanner is a device that analyses a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (e.g. colour). The collected data can then be used to construct digital three-dimensional models.”

“common applications of this technology include industrial design, orthotics and prosthetics,reverse engineering and prototyping, quality control/inspection and documentation of cultural artifacts.”

The rest of the wiki is here, it makes for interesting reading. I read through this to gain an understanding of different types, applications and pros and cons of 3D scanning technology.

Seeing as Wikipedia is …Wikipedia I decided to read around to just make sure my overall knowledge of 3D scanning is correct.

This is some information I found in a paper called: The 3D Model Acquisition Pipeline

The most common range scanners are triangulation
systems. A lighting system projects a pattern of light onto the object to be scanned—
possibly a spot or line produced by a laser, or a detailed
pattern formed by an ordinary light source passing through
a mask or slide. A sensor, frequently a CCD camera, senses
the reflected light from the object. Software provided with
the scanner computes an array of depth values, which can
be converted to 3D point positions in the scanner coordinate
systems, using the calibrated position and orientation of the
light source and sensor. The depth calculation may be made
robust by the use of novel optics, such as the laser scanning
systems developed at the National Research Council of
Canada [5]. Alternatively, calculations may be made robust
by using multiple sensors [6]. A fundamental limitation of
what can be scanned with a triangulation system is having
an adequate clear view for both the source and sensor
to see the surface point currently being scanned. Surface
reflectance properties affect the quality of data that can be
obtained. Triangulation scanners may perform poorly on
materials that are shiny, have low surface albedo, or that
have significant subsurface scattering.

An alternative class of range scanners are time-of-flight
systems. These systems send out a short pulse of light, and
estimate distance by the time it takes the reflected light
to return. These systems have been developed with near
real time rates, and can be used over large (e.g. 100 m)
distances. Time-of-flight systems require high precision in
time measurements, and so errors in time measurement
fundamentally limit how accurately depths are measured.

Basic characteristics to know about a range scanner are
its scanning resolution, and its accuracy.

Accuracy is a statement of how close the measured value is to the true
value. The absolute accuracy of any given measurement is
unknown, but a precision that is a value for the standard
deviation that typifies the distribution of distances of
the measured point to true point can be provided by the

Resolution is the smallest distance between two points
that the instrument measures. The accuracy of measured 3D
points may be different than the resolution. For example, a
system that projects stripes on an object may be able to find
the depth at a particular point with submillimeter accuracy.
However, because the stripes have some width, the device may only be able to acquire data for points spaced millimetres apart on the surface. Resolution provides a fundamental bound on the dimensions of the reconstructed surface elements, and dictates the construction of intermediate data structures used in forming the integrated representation.

Note: For all but the simplest objects, multiple range scans must be acquired to cover the whole object’s surface. The individual range images must be aligned, or registered, into a common coordinate system so that they can be integrated into a single 3D model.

On this website I found a nice brief breakdown of the different types of scanners.

Note: Many systems rely on interactive alignment: a human operator is shown side-byside views of two overlapping scans, and must identify three or more matching feature points on the two images which are used to compute a rigid transformation that aligns the points.

Laser Scanners
This system uses sensors (camera’s) held within the scanning head to capture the image of the object using triangulation techniques, resulting in a point cloud (or scan data).
Long Range Scanners
This system is used for scanning large objects such as planes, buildings, rooms and bridges. It allows you to quickly capture data with very good accuracy.


This scanner is, as its name suggests, based on standard photography practices. The system takes multiple images of the object using reference points from each differing angle from which images are taken producing scan data. Please see our compressor cab casestudy (right).

CT Scanning or Computed Tomography has recently taken over the destructive slicing method as it is a non-destructive system ideal for small transparent parts where again, both internal and external dimensions are required. A CT scan generates three dimensional images from a large series of 2 dimensional xray images taken around a single axis of rotation. The data is reformatted as volumetric representations of structures, which could be used for either reverse engineering or inspection purposes.
These measurement systems are normally used to scan large scale objects by tracking the position of the measuring device on the object and recording each time a measurement is taken. These systems can be either touch or non-contact and differing techniques are used to track the measuring device.

Medal Making Techniques and Processes

Victorian period. Central to this was the growing discrepancy between striking and casting as primary methods of medal production.

The striking process involves mechanically pressing two dies, engraved with a design in negative, on to a disc of softer metal held between them. This enabled the mass manufacture of medals in the Royal Mint and other commercial mints, in the manner of coinage. In contrast, casting occurs in a foundry and is achieved by pouring molten metal into a cast taken from an artist’s model.

In response to the dominance of the struck medal throughout the 1800s, the late nineteenth century saw a revival of the casting process, whereby small editions of single-sided medals and larger medallions were produced. The resulting, softly modelled portraits stress the creative input of the artist. While struck medals were often commemorative, these examples were frequently conceived as independent works of art without a particular message or purpose.

– The National Portrait Gallery, London


Sculpting of the plaster model.

For the conventional model sculpting method the sculptor works from the design starting in plasticine or clay on a sheet of glass to build up the image of the design. This is called bas-relief sculpture. A plaster is then cast from the plasticine and then using special hand tools the sculptor further works the plaster model until complete. The sculpting process takes around 1 to 2 weeks depending upon the complexity of the design. One plaster model is required for each side of a medal.
From the plaster model a silicone rubber mold is cast then an epoxy resin model is cast from the rubber mold. This epoxy resin model is a copy of the plaster model only in a more durable medium required for the next stage.
Alternately with the design in mind the digital sculpting method may be engaged by the sculptor. This does not necessarily make the process any faster but allows better accuracy of designs that use logos, text and a lot of straight lines such as buildings. It also allows easier editing for any changes that may be required.

The reducing machine is used when a conventional physical model is created by the sculptor. The CNC engraving machine is used when the sculptor decides on the digital model option. It is also possible to have the conventional physical model traced by a laser to capture a digital profile as data that can then be sent to the CNC engraving machine to cut the master tool from.
The reducing machine and the CNC engraving machine are both unique engraving machines used specifically by the minting industry. The epoxy resin model is traced by the reducing machine and cuts as it traces. The CNC machine works from the digital model data. Over a period of several days the design is cut into special tool steel, first with a roughing cut and then a finer finishing cut to capture the detail that the sculptor has skillfully sculpted into the model. The copied design cut into steel is known as the reduction punch or hob.
The reduction punch is checked by the hand engraver to ensure that there are no imperfections from the machine. This task is performed under a microscope and requires great skill in using specialist hand tools. Once the engraver is satisfied with the finish the reduction punch is heat treated so that the steel is appropriately hardened for the next process known as hobbing.

Master and Production Tooling.

The hardened reduction punch is then placed into a hydraulic press for the hobbing process. The reduction punch is pressed into another piece of tool steel at incredible pressures of up to 800 tonnes to create a negative impression of the design. This may take several attempts to achieve the full size and detail of the medal or coin design with an annealing (softening) of the steel between each pressing as it work hardens as pressure is applied. This negative is called the die. The die is used to strike the medals after it has been machined in a lathe and heat treated (hardened), otherwise known as the production die.
For coins this die becomes the master die for safety and security purposes and the hobbing process is then repeated two more times. The first time to produce an additional positive image similar to the reduction punch although of better quality. This is called the working hob. The second and final time to produce the production dies or working dies.

Pressing of Medals.

Two production dies are prepared for fitting into a hydraulic press, one for the obverse and the other for the reverse of the medal. Appropriate to the metal required for the finished medals or coins blanks are punched from sheets of the metal, copper, bronze alloys, silver or gold. The blanks are placed between the dies in the press and contained by a collar. Then squeezed at pressures of around 300 to 600 tonnes. Depending upon the height of the relief in the design the medal may have to be struck several times with intermediate anneals (heating to soften) to achieve the full detail of relief.

Finishing of Medals

The medals are then finished accordingly. Some may have a patina applied to give an antique appearance and also to protect it from oxygen within the atmosphere or a frosted, satin finish. Some may be electroplated with gold or silver some may have a proof type finish which is a polished appearance straight from the dies during the pressing process.
Occasionally medals may have fittings applied to hang from ribbons to be worn around the recipients’ neck or pinned to their lapel. The medals are then packed into their presentation boxes. Presentation boxes come in a variety of differing styles from soft-bodied leather style cases to custom made wooden boxes.

Coinage or Coin Production Research 

This research is sourced from a Telegraph article and the Royal Mint website.

Process can be broken down into 3 different steps:

  1. Making the blanks
  2. Making the dies
  3. Striking the coins


  1. Making the blanks:

Appropriate alloy made in a furnace and extracted into continuous strip, cut to produce massive coils.

Strip is rolled through a massive mill until the alloy strip is the required thickness of the coin.

Blank disks are then punched from the strip in a blanketing press.

Rolling the alloy work hardens the metal so the blanks are now annealed at 950C.

Blanks are now cleaned of blemishes in a special machine.

2. Making the Dies

Once a design is chosen, a plaster model is prepared at several times the diameter of the intended coin. The plaster model is scanned producing an stl. or other 3D file.

This file is used to engrave the design into a piece of steel at the correct size of the coin. This is known as a reduction punch. The reduction punch is then used to produce the dies which will actually strike the coins.

3. Striking the Coins

The final stage sees the blanks are fed into a coining press containing a pair of dies and special edge die pieces to press the circumference of the coin. Applying a pressure of around 60 tonnes, the dies strike the blank disk and turn them into coins.

If I had had a CNC workshop last week like I should have then this would have been a great application for that process. Although we do not have a metal CNC machine in uni I could have produced model-board dies as a proof of concept or prototype so as to show a possible coining method for making a medal.

One method that I could try from this research is to model in plaster disk several times larger than the actual medal and then 3-D scan it to edit it on Rhino. I have  a 3-D scanning workshop next Tuesday with Ingrid, it would be good to have a piece of plaster work to scan and experiment with. This scan could then be used to produce a 3-D print which can then be used to make a mould or maybe even be used in direct burn out? To do this I will need to do some more research and talk to Dallas.

Pisanello – The First Medallist ?

Pisanello, an early renaissance artist is attributed to being one of the first famous or named medallists. He is also known for his delicate and detailed frescos and portraits and drawings, few of these works survive. He is the most important commemorative portrait medallist in the first half of the 15th century, and can claim to have originated this important genre.

A while into his career as an artist, at around 1435, he became interested in portraiture and medal-making. One of his surviving famous portraits from this time is the Portrait of a Princess of the House of Este.

Pisanello princess.jpg

In 1439, the Council of Florence negotiated with the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaiologos. On this occasion Pisanello struck a commemorative medal of the emperor, the earliest portrait medal of post-classical times. He also made some drawings with portraits of the emperor and his retinue (Louvre and Chicago), suggesting he had a commission for a painting or fresco for the Este residence.

Pisanello thus became the inventor of the fields of portrait medals and related medallic art. During his lifetime Pisanello was best known for his medals. He has been copied many times in later generations. The medalist art declined when it deviated from the art of Pisanello. Before him, the few medals made were struck like minted coins. Pisanello, on the other hand, melted his medals the same as a bronze low-relief, clearly showing the work of a painter and a modeler. He even signed his medals with Opus Pisani pictoris (made by the painter Pisano). In his view the portraits in his medals equal the portraits in his paintings. He even adds allegories at the reverse of his medals, such as the unicorn in the Cecilia Gonzaga medal, underlying the noble character of the princess.

– Wikipedia

Taken from my journal research notes and Wikipedia.