Touch Board – Bare Conductive

Touch boards make your projects interactive. You can turn touch into sound and make any surface interactive. This is something that I wanted create with my our piece of work. I have had previous experience with Arduino and programming to make movement, and luckily the Touch board can be used with the same program. The board basically works by creating sensors with the Touch Board’s 12 electrodes and trigger sounds through its MP3 player. However for my own project I wanted to incorporate lights as well, so went and found one of the technicians who was an Arduino whizz. He suggested that I use a bread board to extend the touch boards electrodes and a Cd4094 chip, which is a shift register. It enabled me to create more points for the touch board. Below is the PDF which I used to link up the different points on it.


The chip enabled me to control lighting (neopixels). Below is a picture of the boards set up.


After this was set up I attached mini LED’s to the bread board so that I could begin writing the code to co-ordinate with the touch board sensors. This is code that was written below for the programming of the chip. Its basically written as a loop which will made the LED’s turn on with a delay in between and then start again.

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Next step was to upload and record the sound files for the touch board. The sound files needed to be converted in MP3’s. They have to specifically named and then uploaded onto a micro memory card which can be inserted into the touch board its self. Once this was done, I was ready to start creating my piece for it to work on.


Creative Industries initial ideas


Rather than making a poster or leaflet I wanted to create something that was interactive the audience. With maybe the possibility of using an ardunio or touch board using open coding, something which I had a little experience with in my last field project.

It started to sketch out ideas from the layout. From googling creativity the images that brought up where mostly of light bulbs to represent the creative industry. My initial thought was to create an installation using large light bulbs to represent the different employment sectors within the creative industry. With each one lighting up as you flick a switch and different information regarding that sectors displayed underneath the light bulb.

IMG_8205 However after discussing my idea with one of the technicians it was not a viable idea, due to it having to be PAT tested and use of a large amount of electronic. So I was pointed into the direction of using conductive paint and a touch board to make different elements light up or make sound when touched.

In a group workshop we were asked to develop our ideas and sketch out different layouts, and then discuss within the group. These are the sketches that I produced below. From our group discussion it was thought at the second one was a clearer representation of the creative industries.

I needed to more away from the cliche of the light bulb to represent the creative industries. I really like elements of the initial sketches, especially the line drawings at the bottom of the my second sketch.

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I decided to develop this further, with ideas of maybe painting out my final piece. Below are more layout sketches.


My ideas was that when you touch certain parts of the piece it light up and tell you information about the creative industry. For instance when you touched any part around the Gerkin (representing London) it would tell you that 33% of the creative industry jobs are based in and around London. It would be made with conductive ink and linked up with a touch board, so what when touched it would connect to the sound board when an MP3 sound file would play. At the same time a key would light up and show what the context is sounding the sound file.

The kind of style to the drawing reminded me of the place mat that was in a restaurant in Barcelona. I like that fact that everything linked up with a line around it, something that I though would work well with my piece to connect all the elements which make up the creative industry.


Now that I had a fairly good idea of what the piece was going to look like. I needed to delve into how to programme the touch board and make it all connect up with lights as well.

Creative Industries Research




The sites above was where I started to research into facts and stats surrounding the creative industries. From this I mapped out a few points of interest. However the data that I found that would be most relevant was on the UNESCO website which had stats about the creative industry in the UK.


There is no stats for the year 2017 as they had not been collated yet, the latest ones that I could use where taken from 2016, with a compassion going back to 2010. There is a massive grown from 2010 of 44.8% with a four times the rate growth to other industries such as the motor industry.

Now that I had the data, it was time to think about how I want to show this visually.

Significant Information Project

I was looking forward to getting into this three week project. This brief was to develop an outcome using information that find we significant or inspiring to ourselves. I started by mapping out a few things about my life. My children are a massive part of my life, so initially I was inclined to develop a concept around them.


A few ideas that came to mind, one where I could document data on my children’s will power. Possibly making them resist eating a sweets in-front of them and see how long they could last, and maybe moving it on other situations that test them.


Another was to collate data on our sleeping patterns, from their bedtime excuses to the musical beds routine that happens throughout the night. Thought it could have been quite funny to document what goes on in our house over a weeks sleep pattern.  However I thought that actually being coherent enough throughout the night to make notes on what was going on somewhat difficult. So I started to look at creativity. Its something I have always been encouraged to do from a young age and both my parents have worked within the creative industry. It comes naturally to both my children, especially my daughter, who spends from morning till night doodling and sketching. With this in mind, I was beginning to consider doing something to do with the education system and how creativity is integrated with the stem subjects.

I found this article that discusses how music has boosted students core subject results. “The focus on creativity has improved results across the school, not just among the musically gifted, Rotheram says, adding that it is “demonstrably more effective than drilling Sats papers”.” 

I found this really interesting. It seems that there has been a shift in the way that eduction top dogs look at how creativity in school as a positive thing and it should be given more importance within the curriculum. Its something that is our Dean of the Art and Design school is very passionate about, and I had a good discussion with her about her thoughts. We talked about the Stem subjects that have dominated education for many years, and how the introduction of more creative subjects has become more prominent and important for the development of students learning ability. Overall the discussion was very positive and Olwen gave me a few pointer for  researching data and statistics about the subject.


I found this infographic which looks Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) vs STEAM (which has interrogates art into all the stem subjects.) STEAM is an acronym for the fields of study in the categories of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. The initiative began to include arts and design in STEM fields education. The founder of this initiative is Georgette Yakman, who in addition to raising the idea of adding the arts to the STEM acronym, claims to have found a formal way to link the subjects together and correspond them to the global socioeconomic world.


  • On average, students who study the arts for 4 years in high school score 98 points higher on the SATs compared to those who study the same for half a year or less.
  • Students who took up music appreciation scored 61 points higher on the verbal section and 42 points higher on the math section.
  • Of the elementary schools with arts, the most common subjects revolve around music at 94% and visual studies at 83%. Only 3% offer dance instruction while 4% provide theater arts.
  • Training in the arts has been shown to improve creativity and innovation. Students learn to approach issues with a critical mind and a positive attitude towards problem solving. Exposure to the arts enhances communication skills, which are essential tools for collaboration. It develops flexibility and adaptability. The government recognizes these and, indeed, 48 states have adopted standards for art instructions.
  • However 51% of art teachers are unhappy about what they see as the decline in art education brought about by the shift in focus. The difficulty in measuring art’s contribution to academic performance has led to its under appreciation.

I thought about gathering statistics about my children’s school and how much art and music they participate in over a week. From what I gather they encouraged creativity throughout the school, and my children have come home with some wonderful creations. However this might have been so what time consuming and as I only had a limited amount of time I needed to think of something where the data was readily available.

From this point I began to look at the Creative Industry as a whole within the UK. I was surprised to discover that the Creative Industry has become one of the fastest growing industries over the last ten years. I decided that the Creative Industies was to be the context of my project. I felt that it would be interesting and relevant to myself especially because it is something that I am going to be entering into hopefully in the next year.

Beautiful Systems Project

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I found this part of the module working within a group of 4 particularly challenging, not because of the task that we had to undertake but working  collaboratively with other disciplines from the design school. Not only did we have issues with trying to decide how we were going to display the data but lack of communication within the team. I was not pleased with our final outcome, believe that we could have pushed ourselves further, give our selves chance to do something a little different.

From the brief above we decided to monitor data on social media sites over an hours period. By taking screen shots of the site every 10 minutes, we were able to collate the data.

We each took one social media site stats to break down and collate. There was Facebook users, Instagram photo uploads, Twitter Tweets and Pinterest posts. I was given Pinterest. From the data I started to workout the differences between each of the figures that were taken to try and workout percentages for each. However the percentage between each figure was only 0.01% and wasn’t enough to show any visually between them.


I decided to break it down into hours, minutes and seconds. which is shown at the bottom of the image above.


Next was to decide how we were going to display the data visually. I had sketched up an idea to display the data in a college with us each doing the separate parts to make up one big display, but after MUCH debate we decided on using infographs for each other social media sites. The difficultly that we had was that we were a group of mixed abilities, and some of the group were not able to create anything digitally, it was decided that two of us would create our infographs on the computer and other half would make them by hand as long as we stuck to the system that we decided upon they would all tie in together.


This photo above shows the layout that we decided upon, also the size would be 21 x 59.4cm. Then by using group chat we would keep each other updated on our progress before we had to hand in a few days later.

This is the progress of Callum. We both decided to use the typeface din condensed. The typeface Din a san serif font, mostly used in advertising and magazines. It clear has a easy readability it seemed like a good choice for our piece.

I created my part on illustrator. I recreated the Pinterest logo and designed different elements of the poster such as pins and an outline of a person. Originally I took an image of the word Pinterest from the internet, but decided that it was cheating a little. So it got changed to just being in the typeface Din condensed.



This is my final piece below


Our group presentation as a little awkward, as we had one person in the group that had gone off on their own tangent and made a 3D model. The model was impressive and worked really well at displaying the data, but it was frustrating as what she was doing was communicated to the rest of the group.



I was disappointed with the final outcome of this project partly due to the lack of communication within the group. It was the first time that I had experienced this from working collaboratively at university. It was hard to get any inspiration for making this a project more exciting visually.


Visual Story telling

Visual story telling with data is all about creating a visual narrative for the audience to interact with. Within this session of the module we looked at the likes of David Mccandless who through the use of digital drawing has created a piece of data information that shows the difference between right and left political parties in the US government. Cleverly you can see the difference between each party with the use of red and blue and a system that flows between the two. Such a lot of information, yet beautiful and easy to read over. 1276_left_right_usa

Half day workshop


To get us started with this we took part in a 1/2 day workshop working in groups, to create a piece that told a story from a text that we were given. The piece of text was all about Trump and his policies written before he was elected as president.



We broke down and highlighted pieces of the test that we felt where important information to convey to the audience. The main points that we wanted to visualise, was the “Trump wall” which was proposed to be built to stop immigrants from coming into the USA from Mexico. There was also reference to a total ban on anyone from Muslim religion to be able to enter that US.

From this point we discussed and started to sketch what was highlighted, trying to think of metaphors; for instances how to depicted Trump within the narrative so that the audience would still recognise that it was Donald Trump. We decided to show him as an Orangutan, with reference to how orange his skin is.


As we sketched out our initial ideas it was starting to look like a satire, that could sit along side the text maybe, however on its own you could also get what was going on. We were thinking about symbols of America such as the Statue of Liberty and how it represents a welcoming point visitors and especially immigrants that ventured to the USA to start a new beginning. Thinking that this was somewhat ironic as to how Trump wants to keep everyone out, we thought that it could be the main visual in our piece, with a stop sign in her hand stopping the planes from entering the USA.


This was our final outcome, as a group we were pleased with how it looked overall, telling the story of Trump and his election policies. It has an comical feel to it.


This way of visually communicating I found really appealing as there is no need to have any words, you can digest the information with just reading the images. Even though this was a quick fired workshop it inspiring as it showed how much could be achieved in a short space of time and how an idea can be developed and initiated quickly. What we created could be the first draft, where it could be transformed digitally, maybe even making into an animation.

Information is Power

I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this module. Through the duration of this project we are exploring and drawing on knowledge from a broad range of visual systems involving data and how it is communicated to different audiences. Before I started the module I devolved into doing some research into the subject and found that there is many varied and beautiful ways that data has been displayed. No pie charts or bar graphs, which is what you think of initially when we think about how data is being displayed. I started to look at infographics which is brilliant way to display data using physical objects, a technique that can simplify information. Real Life Inforgraphics or data that is represented by physical objects, is an up and coming trend in the way we share information. In fact, it is so new there isn’t really a word for it yet. We can call them ‘physical infographics’ or ‘real world visualization’ as well. They visualize data with real objects, often combined with typography. Real Life Infographics are different than other inforgraphics in that they rely much more on photographs instead of a purely digital medium. As designers we like to come up with creative ways to display information that will still blow your mind, despite any technical limitations. The real world isn’t perfect, and therefore it may not be as accurate as abstract shapes like graph bars. Even though these visualizations still strive for accuracy, you will notice that the context of these graphics will become much more important than precision.


Fresh water withdrawal per capita. The graphic mostly plays on emotions; the suspense of the balloon that is about to hit the nail and explode is forbidding, and warns us we’re not heading in the right direction. I enjoy looking at this piece (could not find the original artist) It feels a lot more playful than just looking at a chart or graph.


This graphic is a creative way of spreading awareness about how much of our medicine ends up in fish. Made by Oliver Uberti, who is a design editor at the National Geographic magazine. A simple idea, which is effective and interesting to look at.

Real life infographics is just one of the ways that data can be displayed and visualised. Ranging from short animations to installations this way of visualising data has got audiences more engaged with data. Looking ahead in our project over this module I wanted to create something that is both visually appealing and possibly interactive with the audiences.