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personal response systems

May 9, 2009 | 10:02 pm

Does anyone have any experience using M/M/J to grab signals from classroom clickers? I haven’t used clickers but I’ve received a question/proposal regarding their use in interactive environments.


May 10, 2009 | 4:38 pm

I’d investigate mousestate and/or the hi object.


May 11, 2009 | 1:51 am

Thanks for the feedback pnyboer. The iClickers used at UBC run at 915 MHz which is outside of Bluetooth, and cordless mice run at around 27MHz I think — I’m not sure that the mousestate or hi object will do the job. (One of my research projects has involved writing Bluetooth port connections for peripherals.) But as another approach I understand that some of the PRS software can be integrated with Office products so I’d like to know if anyone has pushed that data from the receiving software into Max.


May 11, 2009 | 6:21 am

wait… what?

it sounds like you would need a dongle of some sort before you can do any interfacing with Max. Unfortunately, no amount of software in the world can receive signals from meatspace without a hardware receiver.


May 11, 2009 | 6:37 am

Hi Bryan,

Well, it should be possible using only the clicker setup: clickers’ signals are picked up by the iClicker USB receiver and fed to the iClicker software that runs on your laptop during lectures. Apparently the data can be pushed in realtime to Powerpoint presentations during the lecture, so the trick is to do a data equivalent of Soundflower, grab the clicker data coming out of the software, and read it with Max/MSP. If that can be done, then there is the possibility of warping things for installations, interactive performance, etc.


May 11, 2009 | 6:48 am

In that case, the frequency that the wireless transmitter operates at shouldn’t matter at all…

anyways, the clickers that I’m aware of are really just wireless mice in disguise, with a little bit of software assistance for the fancy bits. I’ll go ahead and repeat the last suggestion to use [hi] to try to get some data from it, the help file should be very helpful in figuring out what’s possible there. Do you know what type of data is being sent to powerpoint by the software? I’d imagine it’s nothing more than the usual keystrokes that are associated with slide forward/backward and so on. I could be completely wrong though, I have no experience with this situation… I’m just making suggestions.


May 11, 2009 | 7:02 am

The iClickers data aren’t used for controlling Powerpoint, but for giving feedback in lectures, which can then be displayed in Powerpoint. They have something like 5 buttons on them that are used by every student to indicate their choice from sets of answers projected by the prof at the front of the class. The software collects the responses and posts them as histograms or charts so the prof (and the students) can see the level of comprehension or confusion surrounding the concepts being discussed. So, trapping the iClicker data coming off the individual clickers would be nice (since they have unique data stamping for each unit so you could assign different roles to different units) but the frequency seems to be out of the ranges of the usual possibilities. That leaves grabbing the data coming out of the receiver which would probably be in the form of Header, Question#, No. of Responses. It’s no big deal: a visual artist asked me about doing something with it. I thought if someone had used it already I could get an idea of what direction to go, code it up, and add it to the UBC Toolbox.


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