Physical Computing projects, Spring 2017

Here is a selection of recent projects from our third year Physical Computing module, taught by Phoenix Perry and Perla Maiolino. 

The projects – which were developed in the department’s new hack labs in St James Hatcham Building – include toys, games, controllers, musical devices, and lots of robots.

Flight Control System
by Jacky Wang

Roll Game
by Andrea Fiorucci

Once upon a Time: The Seasons
by Elliot Brown & Sapphira Abayomi. Once Upon a Time site

Drum Machine with Arduino Mega
by Hamood Abdul Jabbar and Gabriel Oliveira Valencia. Project site

Fortune Telling Robot
by Sam Arshed. Robot website

Arduino Tee: a vest with electric shock pads
by Kamaldeep Singh Bachus and Umar Yunus. Tee site

Pendulum: midi controller for a max filter with a pendulum accelerometer
by Harrison Bamford. Pendulum website

Auduino: breath-powered musical instrument
by Saskia Burczak & Mohsin Yusuf. Auduino blog

Electromagnetic String Instrument
by Cameron Thomas

Electromagnetic String Instrument from Cameron Thomas on Vimeo.

Omnimac wheeled robot
by Cormac Joyce. Omnimac website

by Eliot Heath

Arduino Synth
by George Sullivan

by Tom Holmes

by Gil Hakemi.
Project blog

Alarm System
by Osian Jarvis

Street Fighter Joystick Controller
Justin King

Vibrating Diamonds
Qian Joo Lim. Diamonds blog

Ladybird Robot
by Michael King

Upcoming events in Spring 2017

Here’s a load of great events for the technology-minded. Most are organised by Goldsmiths Computing – and most of them are free and open to all.

Being a Junior Games Programmer at 22 Cans
5-6pm Monday 6 March // Room 142, Richard Hoggart Building

Hacksmiths: Learn Ruby on Rails
4-7pm Wednesday 8 March // G11 St James Hatcham

VR in Games Now!
4.30 – 5.30pm Thursday 9 March // Room 256, Richard Hoggart Building

The Invention of Consciousness
4-5pm Wednesday 15 March // Lecture Hall, Ben Pimlott Building

VR The Next Frontier: A Masterclass with Dave Ranyard
5.30-10.30pm Thursday 16 March // LG02, Professor Stuart Hall Building

Science Showoff at the Amersham Arms
6.30-10pm Wednesday 15 March // Amersham Arms

Hearts & Minds: The VR Interrogations Project 
4pm-5pm Wednesday 29 March // Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building

Anvil Hack III: a creative hackathon at Goldsmiths
Saturday 22 – Sunday 23 April // Goldsmiths

Exhibition: Health Tech and You
25 April – 8 May // Design Museum, Kensington High Street

Anvil Hack III: a creative hackathon at Goldsmiths, 22-23 April


Anvil Hack is back for the third year! Run by Goldsmiths tech society Hacksmiths, the hackathon invites current or recent students to focus on the creative applications of technology.

Use your skills to make something wonderful, arty, musical – anything you build will be awesome. We’ll provide you with food, drink, electricity and internet, so that you can get on with the real work – making cool things!

This year we have the privilege of sharing our brand new fabrication lab with you, built right into the church. You’ll have access to state of the art equipment just a couple of months after it’s been installed. Exciting!

When: Saturday 22 – Sunday 23 April 2017
Where: St James Hatcham Building, Goldsmiths
Tickets: Free. Register here

What is Anvil Hack?
Anvil Hack is a two-day invention marathon for developers, designers, psychologists, researchers and more. During the event, participants will build projects that answer our challenges to build awesome creative projects.

But what are you expecting to actually be built?
Anything goes! We’re really interested to see what awesome things you can build, especially interesting generative art, awesome audio projects, and DIY hardware.

Do I need to be a student to attend?
Yes, you need to be a current student or have graduated within the last 12 months. We will work to ensure that there is a diverse range of people in terms of skill set and ability.

Win Science Museum ROBOTS exhibition tickets

We’re giving blog subscribers four free tickets to the Science Museum’s latest exhibition ROBOTS, which runs from February to September 2017


ROBOTS takes you on an incredible journey spanning five centuries, illustrated with robotic artefacts from around the globe, from a 16th century mechanised monk to the very latest in robotic technology straight from the lab, and some of film’s most iconic robotic creations.

Focusing on why they exist rather than on how they work, this blockbuster exhibition explores the ways robots mirror humanity and the insights they offer into our ambitions, desires and position in a rapidly changing world.

We are especially excited about the exhibition, as it includes Robotic Skin by Dr Perla Maiolino, one of our research and teaching fellows. Tickets are £15 (£13 concessions) – or free to the four lucky winners!


Closing date: 11pm Sunday 5 March 2017. We’ll pick four new subscribers at random, and email them on Monday 6 March 2017 with details of how to claim their free ticket.

Report from Goldsmiths’ Sex Tech Hackathon


Back in December 2016, student society Hacksmiths teamed up with Goldsmiths’ Dr Kate Devlin to run the first ever Sex Tech Hackathon.  In this blog post, Creative Computing student Kevin Lewis reports what happened.

Kevin Lewis

Kevin Lewis

Hackathons are invention marathons – where attendees build creative solutions to a challenge set by organisers. One of our tutors, Dr Kate Devlin, wanted to run a hackathon around her area of research – artificial sexuality and the ethics of artificial intelligence – and we couldn’t wait to jump in and help.

Running creative events is not new to Hacksmiths (Goldsmiths’ student-run tech society). Every year we run several large hackathons, but this felt different. We had an exceptional group of attendees from a much wider range of backgrounds than ever before at something we’ve run, and with it came a range of experiences and viewpoints which made the projects at Sex Tech Hack all unique and valuable in their own ways.

Bop It

One team converted children’s toy ‘Bop It’ into a remote control for smart sex toys

For two days we had over 50 talented developers, designers and industry experts join us in St James Hatcham to build innovative new sex technology.

Only in Goldsmiths would you assemble a group of individuals so awesome that they create a combined 14 projects which are so different from one another.

From our very own Dr Sarah Wiseman building a physical computing project to improve communication between partners around kinks, to a group of students with a 3D-printed fist whose vibration intensity changes based on historical data from multinational finance company Goldman Sachs.

No, really, we saw it all – generative erotica, beat-controlled vibrators and a cryptocurrency based on ‘pleasing’ the network. We had quite a few prizes, but the overall best was awarded by our panel of judges to Lovepad – a soft robot specifically designed for non-binary users. The hackers mixed their own silicon in the church over the weekend and it was the more weird and wonderful thing we could have had.

We’ll be running this event again towards the end of 2017 – we want to make it even bigger and better than last time (not that size matters in the slightest). If you want to register for updates, head over to

Science Showoff cabaret returns this March


What happens if you fill a pub with clever and lovely people then invite loads of amazing Goldsmiths scientists to entertain them?

Join us on Wednesday 15 March for a chaotic science cabaret in the Amersham Arms, featuring a line-up of Goldsmiths experts who will delve into the weird and wonderful side of computer science and psychology.

Expect laughs, serial killers, Brad Pitt, a high-tech smart glove, facts that sound totally made up but aren’t, and loads of terrible PowerPoints. Compered by comedian Steve Cross. The line-up:

  • Mark d’Inverno (Computing): Why machines can never be creative – the history and future of creativity
  • Hadeel Ayoub (Computing): Let’s have a talk… glove to glove
  • Sarah Wiseman (Computing): People are weird: Why we shouldn’t experiment on students
  • Caoimhe McAnena (Psychology): The psychology of the Croydon Cat Killer
  • Ashok Jansari (Psychology): What’s the difference between Brad Pitt and a Super-cop?
  • Robert Chapman (Psychology): Why science reporting isn’t funny

When: 6:30pm for 7pm start, Wednesday 15 March 2017
Where: Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY
Tickets: £6 (£5 for Goldsmiths staff/students). Buy online

Part of British Science Week. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to CARA, the Centre for At-Risk Academics.

Artist Memo Akten inspires Computational Arts students

Blogpost by Theo Papatheodorou, programme leader of MA/MFA in Computational Arts.

MA/MFA in Computational Arts students got a real treat on 23 January when renowned computational artist Memo Akten visited the MA to run a crit session and discuss his work and process.

When Memo first came in, he discussed his role in the openFrameworks community. The students in the Workshops in Creative Coding class on the MA are using openFrameworks to make interactive audiovisual applications using computer vision, machine learning, networking protocols, sensors and a lot more. Memo’s contribution to openFrameworks is great and it was really enjoyable listening him talk about his involvement.

We then went through 15 of the best end-of-term project assignments and Memo gave feedback, ideas and critiqued the work for the benefit of the students.

The highlight of the session came later when Memo gave a talk about his work. It wasn’t a typical talk listing his contributions and achievements (among other things the Golden Nica at Ars Electronica). He hopped between selected projects highlighting a common thread: how ideas are formed, how he picks tools, collaborators and how he (occasionally) pitches ideas to clients.

Some nuggets of wisdom from his talk:

  • On learning new technologies: Give yourself a project and a deadline. Working with tight deadlines enhances the creative process, increases the motivation and facilitates learning.
  • On forming new ideas: He often hacks away on a small thing late at night. This small thing might be just an experiment, a proof-of-concept or a study of a topic that fascinates him. For example, he started investigating and playing with the theme of harmonic motion. The work that started as a humble Processing sketch became an audiovisual installation, a 360-immersive projection, a live performance using 16 percussionists and ultimately a light show outside the Blenheim Palace. See the video below for its manifestation outside the palace.
  • On pitching ideas: Keep a (somewhat) organised file with your ideas. If you do develop something, blog about it, make a how-to video, share your code and your idea with the world. When you’re approached for a commission look over the stack of ideas and scale one up for a project. Don’t get too attached to your ideas. Be ready to throw away one that is not so fresh any more.

Memo is currently completing his PhD in A.I. and machine learning for expressive human-machine interaction at Goldsmiths.

This post was originally published on Goldsmiths’ Computational Arts blog.