The Interactive Balloon; Sensing, Actuation and Behavior in a Common Object

Joseph A. Paradiso


In the not too distant future, new materials for sensing and actuation, together with high-density, low-power electronics and embedded computation, will bring interaction and intelligence to commonplace inanimate objects in our environment. As a simple but illustrative example, we have built balloons that can interact conversationally. This paper describes this system: the piezoelectric foil that works as an acoustic pickup and speaker on the balloon, its audio characteristics, the driving electronics, the signal processing, and some applications of this technology at the MIT Media Lab.

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