Making Technology More Inclusive Through Papercraft and Sound

Presented by Andrew 'bunnie' Huang
Thursday 11:40 a.m.–12:25 p.m. in Great Hall CB01.05.009
Target audience: User

Abstract

The participation of women in computer education is low; undergraduate enrollment hovers between 10-20% female globally. The picture at the primary school level is fuzzier, as students do not declare majors at that level, but evidence indicates the trend starts from a young age. Can we make computer education more gender-inclusive? Presenting technology in familiar, non-threatening contexts can lead to more balanced gender participation. For example, Chibitronics uses the context of papercraft to present electronics to beginners; the familiarity of papercraft improves the participation of women of all ages in the creation of electronics. Based on these learnings, we have devised the “Love to Code” platform, an open source hardware-to-cloud stack which combines the familiarity of paper craft with a web-based, driver-free embedded firmware development environment based on FSK audio provisioning via a headphone jack. In this talk, we will dive into the novel open source technical contributions of this platform, which includes the audio-based provisioning protocol and the unique rigid-flex design of the circuitry enabling papercraft integration, as well as the multi-threaded client OS and cloud infrastructure required to complete the picture. This combination of new technology with familiar interfaces aims to lower the barrier to computer education, thus making coding a more accessible and inclusive activity.

Presented by

Andrew 'bunnie' Huang

bunnie is best known for his work hacking the Microsoft Xbox, as well as for his efforts in designing and manufacturing open source hardware, including the chumby (app-playing alarm clock), chibitronics (peel-and-stick electronics for craft), and Novena (DIY laptop). He received his PhD in EE from MIT in 2002. He currently lives in Singapore where he runs a private product design studio, Kosagi, and he actively mentors several startups and students of the MIT Media Lab.