Abracadabra: Imagining Access to Creative Computing Tools for Everyone
How might we empower anyone to create anything? Designers may dream of whimsical ideas, and then turn these ideas into physical prototypes. Armed with duct-tape, cardboard and illusion, “Wizard of Oz” prototypes may communicate the essence of an idea using only raw materials found in every household. However, for electronic prototyping, the tools needed to create functional devices may not be accessible to technical novices. Physical Computing tools with electronics, sensors, actuators, programmable microcontrollers and microcomputers, are increasing in their affordability, but the tools and knowledge needed to combine these parts may not be readily accessible to the average citizen. Here we examine prototyping through the lens of Creative Computing, and propose that accessibility is the cornerstone of electronic prototyping tools. We explore accessibility through an observational case study of a designer prototyping a smart electronic device. We show that typical electronics prototyping tools have significant accessibility barriers to the everyday novice. This work underscores the need to find new ways of designing Creative Computing tools to be more accessible to the everyday dreamer.
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