December 29, 2006
Anne Hongs networked objects

Anne Hong, Networked Objects

This will be the last post concerning work and research at ITP, particularily from their recently closed winter show, as you can have too much of a good thing.

Anne Hongs work concerning networked objects, Smart Shelf (image above and below left) and Storyteller (image below right) are a series of works which caught my interest because they show simply how new technogies can be highly intuitive for their users and build on existing systems of interaction outside of the computing paradigm.

AnneHong, Networked Objects again

The Smart Shelf is a system for tagging books with RFID tags to keep track of who uses them and for how long to identify readers with shared interests and create reading circles based on this. The page documenting the project illustrates three scenarios that this could happen in to show its flexible uses:

I. Personal Use – Smart Shelf on a personal level will allow the user to create several reading circles, and these connections will be denser.
II. Public Use (such as at a Barnes & Noble store)
III. Public Use – In a Community Setting, Library in Japanese Room.

The tagging system can be taught of as something similar to an amazon.com wishlist except there is none of the conscious adding and organising that you get with lists. Instead here lists of your interests are being created by the books you pick up, how long you view them and then comparing your list with other readers lists based on this.

Storyteller builds on the technology or system proposed in the Smart Shelf to provide another specific use, you know for kids:

I plan on hooking an Xport and Arduino to connect the shelf to the reader. This tag will be on the book. I will have pre-recorded readings stored in our dial plan. When the child takes the book off the shelf, he/she will receive a call from the Storybook Reader, who will tell the reader what page he will be reading from. When the child is ready to hang up, Asterisk will store the caller ID and information of the chapter the child left off for the next time he/she takes the book off the shelf again.

Posted by: Garrett @ 12:31 pm
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December 28, 2006
Thinktank

Thinktank

Thinktank (images above), once again a project shown at the ITP winter show, is an investigation into the use of common objects and the their social use. Here particularily a disposable coffee cup and how it can be used to “log and reproduce tacit/hidden gestures that we make”.

Being a container, we found the form of the cup naturally lend itself to the idea of “collecting” things. It became important and interesting to merge the form with interface.

Also, a coffee cup is a tactile object commonly found in rooms where THINK TANK is interested in places where these fleeting or more appropriately variable thoughts occur – often subconsciously.

What we hope to accomplish by logging these tapping gestures, is an expressive representation of thoughts, more organic than written or typed notes. The aesthetic of this project makes use of that little annoying physical tap, that everyone does at some time or another, and captures that moment for playback to the user, and possibly to another cup over a small wireless network.

The device works as follows:

The tap on the outside of the cup, is logged and stored in sequence, and then recreated from the inside of the cup. If there is another similar cup in the vicinity the taps are exchanged between the cups and played back. Its like two people chatting up during a meeting break.

Not too sure why the name but the site documenting the work does state that the title is a work in progress.

Posted by: Garrett @ 8:10 pm
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December 27, 2006
Botanicalls

It’s been a while since I’ve seen works which connect ideas of networks and organic or biological forms together since Organism, the great weblog that looks at “making art with living systems” run by Douglas Repetto (previously posted on his work Crash and Bloom) has slowed down and is currently looking for someone to take over. (previous post about some works on Organism)

Botanicalls

Botanicalls, again from the ITP winter show, is one such work which does this successfully creating a mutually beneficial network between house plants and their human cohabitants. The work immediately stood out in the show for me (both as someone who could only see this online and a lecturer looking at student work) and 90% of the reason for this was due to the very good documentation of the work, text, clear diagrams (see above) and photos. The works aims and objectives are very clearly explained on the background page of the site:

Our concern about bringing plants into the ITP community was their chance of survival– high-paced technologists seldom have time to stop and smell the flowers, let alone water them. ‘But, what if,’ we wondered, ‘the plants could call us and tell us what they needed when they needed it? If they assigned us tasks, would this alters[sic] or engages us,’.

The goals of this project:

1. Keep the plants alive through an interdependent relationship with co-habiting humans by translating the communication protocols of the plants (leaf habit, color of foliage, droop, etc) to more common human communication protocols (email, voice phone calls, digital visualizations, etc). More than keeping individual plants alive, we want to keep the system and project alive.

2. Make a connection between people and plants. Explore/enhance/create/visualize people’s emotional connection to plants, the ways plants help humans, how caring for a shared resource can create sense of community, how natural life is a valuable counterpoint to our technical environment.

3. Gather data, create a complex and dynamic network, documentation for do-it-yourself style propagation of the project, record process.

Note: for works on similar themes see, Life Support Systems – Vanda (plants used to generate art work), several of Miya Masaoka’s pieces (employing plants and insects), Andrea Polli’s work (which she coins as Eco-Media) and writing, Generative Social Networking (using phone networks).

Posted by: Garrett @ 8:21 pm
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December 21, 2006
Clutch

Clutch

Clutch (by artist Fiona Carswell), yet another work from the ITP winter show, is:

a set of hand warmers that require the wearers to hold hands in order to stay warm. They are a rebellion against one aspect of self-reliant, survival technology: self-heating winter gloves. By forcing a dependency, the hand-warmers promote both physical as well as emotional security…In the winter, people either keep their hands in their pockets or try to hold hands with bulky gloves that don’t allow the sensation of human touch. Self-warming devices for gloves exist but the emphasize [sic] on self-reliance only increases the gap between human dependencies and technological advances.

The gloves, made of conductive fabric, work by allowing their two wearers to collaboratively complete an electric circuit enabling them to heat:

Each wearer is in fact completing the other person’s circuit. The act of joining hands triggers the heating elements in each person’s respective glove and creates a unit of warmth while still allowing the users to feel the sensation of another person’s hand.

Posted by: Garrett @ 11:09 pm
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MoPres

MoPres

MoPres (image above) is one of the works from the ITP winter show which I mentioned in the last post. Its a vest (or hoodie in the image above) which allows its wearer / user to experience a specific location beyond what their senses would or could achieve by augmenting their presence in relation to that location. It does this by firstly saving a wearers / users biometric experience of a location and simultanously employing this to retrieve a previous experience (whether from the same wearer / user or not) to trigger output on the vest.

Interesting aspects about this wearable device are the differing contexts depending on who wears it. Each time the vest is worn the experience of the wearer / user is added to. This will result in a wearable device for an individual user which becomes more intimate and personalised yet if the wearable device is shared it becomes a means of delayed site-specific communication between its wearers / users. Ether way the wearable has aspects of both Bruce Sterlings Spime and hyperlinked objects in the Internet of Things.

A scenario of using the vest is as follows:

People wear the vest with embedded sensor package [heart rate and body temperature sensors], and the data is logged through the cell phone with geo tagging [gps and/or cell-tower id]. Once the mobile application reads the pattern of the data in relation to locations, it triggers the output devices embedded in the vest [heater and the pulse motor] with relevant residual patterns so that people can experience others’ past experiences at the given spot.

Similar explorations of wearable devices include: MoBeeLine (also from ITP, note the common use of “Mo”, Mobile, same tutor or the start of an augmented fashion line? :), Hug Shirt, Flame 5, Volume over Lumen, LoveJacket and HugJackets.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:37 pm
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