TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE – 4. Computing in Products

Programming or Coding in a product can help you change what will happen to a product when a condition is met.

Monitor is when you use sensors to check on a condition you have set in your programme.

Control refers to the devices used to change your products action or appearance once a condition is met.

Why would you use computing in products?

Using a computer or a processor in your design changes a product or a machine from being dumb, just doing the same operation over and over again into one that can make decisions about what to do next. Especially if something out of the ordinary happens.

What are conditions?

Imagine you are standing by a pelican crossing, you have three conditions a red man, a green man and a flashing green man. Each one of those actions, i hope, make you behave differently when crossing the road. There you have it, conditions are rules that set out what will happen if something is met.

What are sensors?

Sensors are everywhere, they are always wanting to do some work for us, sound scary but all they are doing is checking on its environment or its surroundings for a change and when that happens it will ask a computer to change the condition in its program.​​​​​​​

What are some examples of sensors in practice?

When you use a remote control there are sensor being used, they are normally working on inferred. At the supermarket on the conveyors you could find two, one at the start, to make it move if it isn’t and another at the end to stop it when the belt is full, they are called through beam and you can see them, look for the red light . Another place to think about sensors are automatic doors, they use proximity sensors, how close you are. Some sensors might have the word laser in them, don’t worry they won’t cut you in half it means it is using light. If something happens automatically for you, it’s probably has a sensor in it.

How can sensors make a system better?

A pelican crossing is simple system without a sensor, you press the button for the computer to tell the cars to stop though you keep walking along the pavement it will still stop the traffic. That wastes the drives time and makes them angry while you get the fun of pressing the button. There are now new crossings with a sensor added that checks your still there once you have pressed the button. If you press the button and keep walking past they will not change. There’s an improvement, you get to press the button. Such fun, but you don’t make anyone angry. Oh by the way the crossing is no longer a pelican if it has a sensor, it becomes a puffin.

The Crumble, the astronaut and the Primary School

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  1. Crumble
  2. BBC Microbit

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