Last April, Henk Hofstra created an “urban river” in Drachten, Holland. The Blue Road installation is an example of what mind-blowing urban public art can be.
Featuring 1000 metres of road painted blue and the phrase “Water is Life” written in eight-metre-high letters across it, the Blue Road is reminiscent of the waterway that used to be where the road is now. It’s a memorial to nature, but it’s also just plain awe-inspiring. There’s even a few cool tidbits along the road, like a sinking car.
Sifteo cubes are a true game system. Each cube is equipped with a full color display, a set of sensing technologies, and wireless communication. During gameplay, the cubes communicate with a nearby computer via the USB wireless link. Manage your games and buy new ones using the Sifteo application installed on your computer. Each cube packs a full color LCD, a 3D motion sensor, wireless communication, a peppy CPU and more. Your computer connects to the cubes via the included Sifteo USB wireless link.
Why do I blog this? this seems to be an intriguing “networked object” platform. I like the idea of creating applications/gameplay based on the interactions between several cubes.
Virtual reality interactivity system and method by Justin R. Romo (1991):
Helmet for providing virtual reality environments by Richard Holmes (1993)
Optical system for virtual reality helmet by Ken Hunter (1994):
Virtual reality visual display helmet by Bruce R. Bassett et al. (1996):
Helmet mounting device and system by Andrew M. Ogden (1996):
Virtual reality exercise machine and computer controlled video system by Robert Jarvik (1996)
Virtual reality system with an optical position-sensing facility by Ulrich Sieben (1998):
Multiple viewer headset display apparatus and method with second person icon Michael DeLuca et al (2002):
Visual displaying device for virtual reality with a built-in biofeedback sensor by Sun-II Kim et al (2002):
Virtual reality helmet by Travis Tadysak (2002):
System for combining virtual and real-time environments by Edward N. Bachelder et al (1997):
Why do I blog this? Working on a potential chapter in my book concerning recurring failures of digital technologies led me to investigate patents about VR. As usual when I dig Google Patent, I am fascinated by the graphics (drawing styles) and how much it reveals about design preconceptions. There’s a lot to draw from these… especially about what the “inventors” (this term may look anachronistic but it’s the one employed in the patent system) bring up in the graphics. Moreover, it’s also great to see the different shapes that has been proposed (of course the patents are not just about shapes and design). These elements puts the current 3D glasses discussion in perspective.
“Would you know if a dear, but seldom seen, friend happened to be on the same train as you? The proximeter is both an agent that tracks the past and future proximity of one’s social cloud, and an instrument that charts this in an ambient display. By reading existing calendar and social network feeds of others, and abstracting these into a glanceable pattern of paths, we hope to nuture within users a social proprioception and nudge them toward more face-to-face interactions when opportunities arise.“
Why do I blog this? although I am not sure about the use case (and how it may lead to some new quirky social behavior), I find interesting FOR ONCE to see a location-awareness device that is not focused on the present/real-time. The idea here is rather to give some information about the near future… and I would find interesting to have this sort of representation only as am ambient display at home: no mobile version, only some simple insights before heading elsewhere.
The intent of this project was to create animism in an object, with the use of programmable BlinkM® LEDs. We were interested in books because, as a set of objects, they still had a degree of individuality which we wanted to bring forward. By accentuating the character that the titles already exuded, we were able to develop each personality in unique ways, furthering the books from their common mass–produced ancestry. This experiment came close to becoming a psychoanalysis of an object–exploring themes of ego, vulnerability, intellect, and self-awareness.
Why do I blog this? curious project by Jisu Choi and Matt Kizu (from Art Center) about books and how they can be enriched with “Individuality” features through technology.
An interesting project by Kibwe X-Kalibre Tavares:
“These are a collection of images of what Brixton could be like if it were to develop as a disregarded area inhabited by London’s new robot workforce. Built and design to do all the task humans no longer want to do. The population of brixton has rocketed and unplanned cheap quick additions have been made to the skyline.
Why do I blog this? designing of an urban environment (fictional or not) to accomodate robots seems to be a rather interesting brief. Surely some good design fictions can be built from there to reflect the possibilities of the future(s). The project blog is full of interesting material.
As soon as you see this kind of gas counter in Spain, you start noticing that its design is pretty similar to a face:
A face likes this:
And then you see a similar device with 3 counters, which you recognize as a “3-eyed face” (see also the native american version):
Later on, you encounter one-eyed faces such as:
Or the wounded version:
Why do I blog this? These observations are close to a phenomena we described with Fabien in Sliding Friction: Mistaking an interface or a device for a face corresponds to a psychological phenomenon called “pareidolia”: a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus perceived as something clear and distinct.
Recently, I also dealt with the link between this and design… showing how Gerty, the robot in sci-fi movie Moon had a pretty basic face cued by a display that showed a smiley. It’s fascinating to see how very minimal features can trigger (1) a face-like appearance, (2) rough forms of emotions that individuals can project on the device.
Ubiquitous computing: Augmented Reality, location-based services, internet of things, urban screens, networked objects and robots
Over the past few years, “Smart Cities” have become a prominent topic in tech conferences and press. Apart from the use of this term for marketing purposes, it corresponds to a mix of trends about urbanisation: the use of Information and Communication Technologies to create intelligent responsiveness or optimization at the city level, the coordination of different systems to achieve significant efficiencies and sustainability benefits, or the fact that cities provide “read/write” functionality for its citizens.
The common approach to design Smart Cities is to start by upgrading the infrastructure first and consider the implications afterward. We will take a different path in our workshop and focus on situations that imply already existing and installed technologies (from mobile phones to user-generated content and social networking sites). To follow up on past Lift talks (Nathan Eagle at Lift07, Adam Greenfield at Lift08, Dan Hill, Anne Galloway and Carlo Ratti at Lift09, Fabien Girardin at Lift France 09) and workshops (about urban futures at Lift07 and Lift09), the goal of this session will be to step back and collectively characterize what could be a Smart City. This workshop targets researchers, designers, technology experts interested in developing an alternative approaches to technology driven visions of urban environments.
A workshop I’d be organizing at Lift with Vlad and Fabien.
A curious cardboard mailbox inserted in a phone booth in Lyon, France. It seemed to be an for a foundation that helps homeless people (it subsequently plays on the idea that phone booth can become communication nodes for them).
There’s an interesting short article by Bill Gaver in the latest issue of ACM interactions. Beyond the focus of the research, I was interested by the description of the approach and the vocabulary employed. Very relevant to see how they define what “design research” can be.
He starts off by stating that their place is “a studio, not a lab“: it’s an interdisciplinary team (product and interaction design, sociology and HCI) and that they “pursue our research as designers“. Speaking about the “design-led” approach, here’s the description of how they conduct projects:
“Our designs respond to what we find by picking up on relevant topics and issues, but in a way that involves openness, play, and ambiguity, to allow people to make their own meanings around them. (…) An essential part of our process is to let people try the things we make in their everyday environments over long periods of time—our longest trial so far is over a year—so we can see how they use them, what they find valuable, and what works and what doesn’t.
Over the course of a project, we tend to concentrate on crafting compelling designs, without distracting ourselves by thinking about the high-level research issues to which they might speak. It’s only once our designs are done and field trials are well under way that we start to reflect on what we have learned. Focusing on the particular in this way helps us ensure that our designs work in the specific situations for which they’re developed, while remaining confident that in the long run they will produce surprising new insights about technologies, styles of interaction, and the people and settings with whom we work—if we’ve done a good job in choosing those situations.“
Why do I blog this? Collecting material for a project about what is design research. Even brief, the article is interesting as it describes studio life in a very casual way (I’d be curious to read the equivalent from a hardcore science research lab btw). The description Gaver makes is al relevant as it surfaces important aspects of studio life (prerequisites to design maybe): interdisciplinary at first (and then “most of the studio members have picked up other skills along the way”), fluidity of roles, the fact that members contribute to projects according to their interests and abilities.