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Yo-Yo Machines Kit 1 - Light Touch

by Pimoroni

This kit lets you build a pair of Light Touch devices, which will allow you to stay connected to friends and family across the internet by exchanging coloured lights.

When you choose and send a colour, it pulses on the partner device then fades away slowly, so you can use them in real time or leave traces to find later.

About Yo-Yo Machines

It’s important to stay in touch while physically separated, but teleconferencing tools like Zoom and Teams can be a lot of work. What if you just want to send somebody a wave, or a smile, without demanding too much attention?

That’s what Yo–Yo Machines are for. Simple devices you can make yourself, they connect across the Internet to let you send a signal that you’re thinking of somebody, and give just enough control to play around, or maybe invent a secret language.

How to use Light Touch

Light Touch communicators are used in pairs. Each Light Touch has two LED lights: a “send” light that you control from your device, and a “receive” light that your partner controls. There is also a button or capacitive sensor (a metal piece that senses touch) on each Light Touch. This is used to select and send colours.

To select a colour you want to send, hold down the button or capacitive sensor, wait while the send light cycles through colours, and release when you find the colour you like. To send a colour, simply tap on the button or sensor. The receive light on the partner device will pulse brightly, then fade slowly over a very long time. That’s all there is to it!

This kit contains everything you'll need to make your colourful light communicator!

  • 2 x microUSB cable
  • 2 x ESP32S board
  • 2 x Addressable RGB LED
  • 2 x Mini breadboard
  • Male to male jumper lead selection

The USB cables that are included in the kit will let you power your units from any USB port. If you'd rather plug your device/s into a plug socket you can use a microUSB power supply to do that (not included, but we sell ones that will work here).

Click here for the full build instructions.

Light Touch communicators are simple, but designed with enough control to let you play with them in different ways

  • Just turning on your partner’s light (“sending a touch”) is enough to say “I’m thinking of you”. The slow fade means you don’t have to be there to know when they’ve sent you one too.
  • Colours can mean whatever you want them to. Maybe you’ll send yellow when you’re happy and blue when you feel sad. Will your partner understand them the same way? That’s something you’ll have to figure out together.
  • The initial light pulse means you can send signals to each other in real-time, too. Playing rhythms together can be fun. Try matching the colour your partner sends. Or learn Morse Code if you’re really ambitious.
  • If you make your Light Touches so the send and receive colours mix together, you can create new effects together. It’s like painting a bit of your homes the same colour. Will you agree about what looks best?
  • These are just a few ideas about how to get started, but we’re pretty sure there are lots of other things to do that we haven’t dreamed of. Go on, surprise us! And let us know how you get on, please...

Who we are

We’re from the Interaction Research Studio, a team of designers and technologists at Goldsmiths, University of London. UKRI is supporting us to develop Yo–Yo Machines to show how research can have real-world impacts.

Visit our Yo-Yo Machines Website for more information about the project.

Contact us via email interaction@gold.ac.uk or share your designs in the Answers Forum.