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Controlling the World with a Magic Wand

By Joshua Madara on January 6, 2012 | Categories: Blog | 4 Comments

The wand is a well known instrument of magic, and represents the magician’s Will and the direction of hidden forces to realize it. The magician imagines some change in the world, points the wand to where that change should take place, and there it does — abracadabra, hocus pocus, presto chango! In Tarot, the suit of Wands often corresponds to the element of Fire and “work, enterprise, ideas; the energies of the spiritual plane and archetypal world” (Paul Foster Case).

The Kymera magic wand builds on this mythical tradition, to create a novel(ty) television remote control — change channels or volume with a turn or flick of your wrist, or execute a “big swish” to turn the TV on or off.

Kymera wand

But the Kymera wand can interact with much more than your A/V components. Today’s techno-wizards — the hackers and makers — use “hidden forces” (i.e. small computers) called microcontrollers to effect their desired changes in the world. These microcontrollers can be programmed to respond to infrared remote-control devices including the Kymera wand.

Arduino microcontroller

On Friday, February 17, from 7 to 9 pm, I will be at Jigsaw Renaissance, demonstrating how to use the Kymera wand to interact with two popular microcontrollers: Arduino and the Parallax Propeller. I will briefly introduce infrared communications technology including the popular Sony protocol, and will demonstrate the wand’s 13 gestures that produce discrete signals, and a few applications including robot control, interaction with a Processing computer program, and lighting effects using BlinkM programmable LEDs. Suggested donation: $5 for members of Jigsaw Renaissance, $10 for non-members.

4 Responses to “Controlling the World with a Magic Wand”

  1. March 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

    This is even better than the TV Be Gone! (My wife and I have a lot of fun with our TV Be Gone… but to have something that is a Magic Wand… now that is friggin cool.)

    • March 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Hey, good to hear from you, Justin! I’ve thought about combining TVBG and the wand. I’d love to be able to point the wand at a wall of television sets and watch them all turn off.

      • March 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        That would be very good. With the other a/v and additinal arduino functions this could be a good step towards creating a Sonic Screwdriver. …which for the most part seems to function as a magical wand.

  2. February 17, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Too Cool. I want one. :)

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By now the word "hypertext" has become generally accepted for branching and responding text, but the corresponding word "hypermedia", meaning complexes of branching and responding graphics, movies and sound — as well as text — is much less used. Instead they use the strange term "interactive multimedia": this is four syllables longer, and does not express the idea of extending hypertext. » Theodore Nelson, Literary Machines