For what I am hoping to achieve, I am going to need to use an Arduino board to create the installation I am wishing to make. Arduino is an open source electronics platform with simple hardware and software. The Arduino board I can have access to at University is the Arduino Uno board which looks like this:The Arduino Uno board allows you to upload sketches onto the board, and “receives input from many sensors and affects its surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other actuators”. The Arduino software uses a code similar to that of Processing, telling the Arduino what to do by programming the code and uploading it onto the board.
This is going to be the best thing for me to use as I am wanting to make a free-standing installation using ferrofluid and magnets. I have been looking into the kinds of things I can use with the Arduino to make it interactive, and I think a PING sensor would best suit my idea.
Use a PING sensor on the Arduino Uno to determine how close or far away someone is. Rig up an electro-magnetic current through the magnet and other screw-like objects to create ferrofluid sculptures. The sensor would determine the strength of the current running through the magnet, so if no one is near nothing will happen, but if someone wishes to engage with it then the current will kick in and the sculpture will be formed.
SparkFun Electronics – Arduino Uno R3.jpg – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arduino_Uno_-_R3.jpg