Analog vs. digital output

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Typical view of interaction design

Microcontroller as a black box

A typical and perhaps unfortunate model of physical computing interaction design.


Digital output

  • binary
  • on or off
  • represented in software as either a HIGH or LOW
  • represented in electronics hardware as either 5V (or 3.3V in low-power circuits) or 0V.
  • digital output is commonly used for
    • turning on LEDs and other lights
    • switching a transistor (which can then power a variety of devices)
    • switching a relay (which can then power a variety of devices)
    • serial communication between devices, which uses a series of HIGH and LOW electronic pulses over time to transmit information
  • gives you 21 = 2 different possible output values

Analog output