Exponent technology building blocks bring Patten Studio projects to life.
Exponent—for Experience Components—is a suite of original hardware and software designed and developed by Patten Studio. The custom printed circuit boards and supporting software in the Exponent suite were made specifically to support interactive, experiential artworks. These unique technology building blocks simplify and streamline the process of creating new experiences for our clients. Exponent serves as a toolkit that allows Patten Studio to more efficiently and affordably fulfill client needs, and meet client deadlines.
As our team worked on an increasing number of projects with kinetic elements, we found that existing motor control systems never did quite what we needed them to do. We wanted to support motion control based on patterns of behavior, rather than specific numerical coordinates. We needed the controllers to be networked on an RS485 bus, and be expandable so that new types of sensors and actuators could be directly connected and controlled by them. We also needed to support custom control algorithms beyond the standard PID control. To date, we have developed two custom motor control boards (for DC and brushless DC motors) that are frequently used in our projects. To see our custom motor control system in action, read about Champions of Cash, an activation for the New York Lottery where basketball players in a Manhattan park encountered a basketball hoop that rained money every time they made a shot.
Creating interactive experiences in the physical world often involves developing and using new kinds of sensors, or filtering data from new kinds of sensors. We developed an analog signal processing circuit that uses a variety of analog and mixed-signal components to generate, filter, and measure analog signals. This circuit has been used in a variety of studio projects. In Heartfelt, this circuit generates a small analog signal that is sent through visitors’ hands as they touch the sculpture. The circuit also listens for that signal and decodes it, to sense when a visitor connects two or more poles by touching them.
Often when we’re developing a permanent interactive installation the sculpture must be controlled by electronics in an equipment room far off-site. In order to monitor permanent artworks our team has developed a series of communication circuits that send, receive, translate, and interpret commands that control our sculptures. Collectively, this hardware simplifies the cabling requirements for connections between the equipment room and the sculpture, provides more aesthetic latitude in the cables we integrate into our sculptures, and simplifies monitoring and maintenance.
Because half of Patten Studio’s profits are invested in internal research and development, we are constantly expanding and honing our arsenal of unique technologies for application in bespoke client projects. The Exponent suite of technology components helps us execute a broader range of possible experiences while minimizing technology related risk. These studio created, studio owned technologies expand our design vocabulary, allowing Patten Studio to deliver experiences to our clients that exceed what is possible to achieve with standard, extant tools.