Thursday, December 11, 2008

Float with your Pet!


Everyone deserves to be in the swimming pool! I remember my dog always jumping in our backyard swimming pool, loving to swim, but being unable to come out on his own. What a relief for your pet if he could float! Jed Berk designed Float-a-Pet, an illuminated inflatable pet collar with smart sensor and locative technology.


"How the system works:
The collar serves to support two main situations. First, the passive system is used to recognize where your pet is located at night. The flexible solar cells gather the suns energy during the day and store it in small rechargeable batteries. A light sensor recognizes low light conditions and triggers LEDs to illuminate the collar. Second, the active system is used in disaster relief situations. For example: In the event of a hurricane or the act of simply slipping into a pool. The Collar has a clipped on CO2 cartridge designed to break away. When the integrated humidity sensor reaches its threshold, it is activated. It dispenses CO2 and inflates the collar into a float. The passive solar system will support the floatation device at night by blinking intermittently to get one's attention."


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A message table

Dana Gordon (currently with us in Cambridge, MA) hacked an existing answering machine and rewired some of its original functions (such as recording a message, play, pause and delete). The result is super fun and inspiring. Imagine in your living room a reactive table instead of a regular answering machine! She called the machine the "message table" as in an answering machine merged into a wooden table. For each message received, a box appears on the table. To listen, open the box - and to delete, push it back into the desk.


Designed with Shawn Bonkowski, she exhibited the table at the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the Salone del Mobile 2005 in Milano and at the Gallery AB+, Torino.

You can watch the video here.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Experimenting with digital money

A video by Chris Woebken that I quite like, I especially love the "time is money" -- friend :)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Art for the World of Warcraft

I used to play World of Warcraft, I like to have my digital body engaged in breaking down monsters. This can be translated in defining strategies to destroy unstoppable monsters! I reached level 70, raided a lot afterwards and then entirely stopped. In France, I used to play strategy games with 15 players in the same house, creating teams, ordering Pizza and getting tones of Soda. We started on Friday at the end of the afternoon and we stopped on Sunday night.


These past months I have rarely played any game, but I cherish these addictive gaming moments and decided to design an architectural object that criticizes the process of massive multiplayer gaming, designing a refuge with a survival kit integrated as well as doing something with the laptop that continuously burned my legs while playing! Also reflecting on the intense things that are happening on world of warcraft, such as the multiboxing setup!

Recently, I've been awarded a grant by the Council for the Arts at MIT camit-logo.jpg. This grant is to help the design of the AFK cookset and the WOW Pod, projects that will be exhibited from April 2009 until September 2009 at the MIT Museum. I am making these two pieces in collaboration with artist duo Jahn/Shanda, with who I always wanted to work with; I recently blogged about one of their work, and presented on this blog many projects by Marisa.
The Pod resembles a mobile structure, however it works as a parasite. Connected to the home, it depends on it, it is stuck to it and uses it for survival. A nice metaphor for the teenager who is oblivious to his addiction and the effect it has on his family house! The AFK cookset benefits from a very annoying feature from the old MacBook Pro, that literally burns your laps while playing. The AFK cookset cooks your diner while raiding, it automatically alerts you and the raiders that you are AFK because your "eggs are ready"!

The AFK cookset
World of Warcraft is a massive online multi-player game that attracts millions of players including a large proportion of teenagers and children as young as 10 years old. A typical scenario for teenagers addicted to the game is to settle down in front of the monitor on Friday night and collapse on Sunday night. Sleep deprivation as well as high saturated fat diet is the pride of these players who barely do not take any break, and when they do they sign the typical “AFK” (“Away from Keyboard”) that pops up of top of their avatar. The average AFK is of two minutes, time to run to the fridge, to open a bag of potato chips, to replenish the glass of milk, or go to the bathroom. We are proposing a design noir aiming at representing the ideal setup for the player to spend more quality time online.

Can you imagine the toll that this extreme behaviour takes on the developing body, not to mention the amount of energy waste produced during such a 48-hour non-stop game? The addiction to World of Warcraft, you see, raises questions about the ecological and physio-morphological consequences of the computer game industry – but WOW players would refuse at any cost to reduce their addiction. Another solution must be considered…

The AFK Cookset harvests the heat produced from an ordinary laptop computer to cook meals. Before beginning a WOW session, the player places a shallow metal box beneath his/her laptop. The player pulls out a metal drawer that contains a tray with subdivisions. In one section, the player implaces powdered milk, powdered eggs, a dash of salt and pepper plus seasoning to taste. This protein-rich herb omelette will be cooked first because of the egg whites’ naturally low cooking temperature. In a second subdivision, the player implaces powdered tomato, water, and basil – a perfect second course tomato bisque to provide Vitamin C-rich soup to ward off scurvy. In the final section, the player implaces a frozen pizza. This pizza will be fully heated about the time the player (warrior) is ready for a third meal.

When each respective recipe is ready, the AFK Cookset WOW Plug-in automatically notifies the player that his/her meal is ready. A graphic, announcing, “Bob’s eggs are ready” is immediately visible to the other players on the “Raid Window.”

A first sketch!

The WOW pod
The WOW Pod is an immersive architectural solution for the advanced WOW player that provides and anticipates all life needs. Before entering the WOW Pod for a weekend-full of adventures, the player first stocks the pod: he/she refills the water bag that skins the architectural exterior and pipes liquids directly into the pod via a plastic tube that the player places adjacent his/her mouth. The WOW Pod holds and dispenses up to 3 cannisters of Pringles chips within easy reach of the desktop. The AFK Cookset and backup foodtrays (see description above) provides nutrients to nourish the hungry warrior. Inside, an array of monitors and computers allows the hard-core player to simultaneously control not one – but a whole assembly of players – with ergonomic ease. For instance, normally “multi-box systems” ask the player to use key commands and different mice to switch between players (warrior, magi, etc.). Involving all the latest features of an integrative computing sytem, WOW Pod allows the player to control the magi with his/her elbows, the dwarves with his/her feet pedals, the warrior with his/her hands. The player also has the control to re-program and re-designate the team of warriors according to his/her ergonomic preference.

The exterior of the WOW Pod is a customizable skin that allows the player to publicly demonstrate his/her guild association. Normally, guild affiliations are shown through “tabards”, or wearable insignias. WOW Pod now allows the player to demonstrate to those not online the richness of his/her online identity.

A first sketch

So far we have a lot of fun! I will update soon as we progress in the building of the two pieces. More soon ....

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Friday, November 14, 2008

MIT General Exam : passed!


I have successfully passed my qualifying MIT general exam, I am officially PhD candidate! The general exam is composed of three written requirements and one oral exam.

My committee is composed of:
Professor Hiroshi Ishii, PhD
Associate Director of the MIT Media Laboratory
Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
Program in Media Arts and Sciences
Main area: Tangible interaction techniques

Professor Joe Paradiso, PhD
Sony Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
Program in Media Arts and Sciences
Technical area: Technologies for body sensing and expression

Professor Edith Ackermann, PhD
Honorary Professor of Developmental Psychology
University of Aix-Marseille I, France
Visiting Scientist. MIT School of Architecture
Contextual area: Psychology, cultural artifacts and semiotics

The oral exam is here to: "show the mastery of the specific knowledge required (analysis), and the ability to think clearly and logically, and to extend ideas into new territory (synthesis)". What is so great about this process is to combine three persons you highly admire, to think with you on "what could become a research framework". You have 6 months after you sent the general exam proposal to fulfill the general exam requirements with the help of your committee. The committee was highly invested in the entire process, supporting my explorations of different directions of research, criticizing my experimentations in wearables, health care, toy design, and help me refine a potential framework throughout.

I passed the three written requirements in the form of a paper for each discipline and today I just completed the oral exam that I titled: "Grounding Interfaces: Shifting the body boundaries".

Introduction ->link to the pdf.

Motivation ->link to the pdf.

Opportunities ->link to the pdf.

Vision ->link to the pdf.

Sensing Technologies ->link to the pdf.

Conclusion ->link to the pdf.

Here is my presentation in .pdf format!

Thank you to all my friends who helped me clarify ideas, refining the framework and letting me rehearse many times!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Monday, November 10, 2008

General Exam moment


I am currently working towards my General Exam, including the qualifying exams from MIT. I will be back on the blog right after! In the meantime, enjoy a beautiful last moment of Indian summer --taken with my camera phone...

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama and Biden's tax calculator: better than 1000 words

Obama and Biden tax calculator discovered on Annoying Design.
Yes I cannot vote because I'm French, BUT I must admit this tax calculator designed by Obama and Biden is pretty straightforward. Very much so for families under the 250,000 bracket ...

A tax calculator is better than 1000 words :)
-> Link


Friday, October 17, 2008

Pleasure with champaigne and glasses

I am working with my friend Marisa Jahn on a new project. It will be super fun, artistic and hopefully design noir! More soon... but in the meantime I want to share her latest creation with Steve Shada, "Pleasurecraft".


A kit for any klutz who wishes to woo a potential lover, ‘Pleasurecraft’ is a vehicular kit that choreographs gesture and landscape to produce an outting full of splendor and romance. The potential lover wil find PleasureCraft's luxurious pullows and easy-to-reach champagne cooler irresistable. Suitors will love PleasureCraft for its easy-to-use instructions that make Romance easy - one, two, three!

The suitor begins when he/she steps in the boat and first begins to read the operator's manual. Pictures indicate what to do next--comb the moustache, don the bowtie, bust out the TicTacs -- then uncork the champagne, what tempo to follow, etc.

Often, a clumsy serenade can be attributed to an overwhelming amount of details and a failure to attend to the right ones in the right order. But PleasureCraft solves this problem through its built-in water wheel, perfectly callibrated to the RPM of the River Seine. By listening to the music and glancing at the operator manual, the suiter knows what cues to follow and when.

(‘Pleasurecraft’ questions the human agency in constructing the pictoral imaginary and an ethnographic examination of our species’ mating rituals.)




Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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A toy-cyborg for children!


“Stelarc Ken” by Zoe Khamsin.
Now children can play with cyborg toys!

Stelarc is a poet and scientist of contemporary times and his body, that he himself defined as 'obsolete', and others has defined as 'posthuman', is the end of the religious principle of body's inviolability. Moreover he made a mutual correspondence between his body and his art, and this led to his iconic definition. The artist creation - 'Stelarc Ken' - builds upon the idea of iconic individuals being replicated in toy form.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Physical display with deformable skin

Another neat technique in the vein of SnOil, a physical display Based on ferrofluid that reacts to magnetism. Shade Pixel is a type of physical display that uses deformable skin to represent information.

It is very pretty, the dots on the white looks like steps in the snow. Notice how the sound from the solenoid works really well with the "clock" idea! A nice trick to deal with noisy technology. You can see a video about Shade Pixel here:

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Sunday, October 05, 2008

DIY, this new black!

DIY is the new black for the gaming industry which has adopted not only the DIY but also the craft culture in its new game for Playstation 3, Little Big Planet. In little big planet, users create their characters (their mascot) with textures, zippers, colors, attitudes and their own levels, events, design their difficulties and can then share their designs with their peers and play online.


The level creation is the most intriguing, because you got to design triggers and events like switches and buttons. It can be pretty simple if it is just to open a door to the next level but pretty rad ;) when designing a multi-phase boss fight against millions of tech spiders! Also the sharing component is pretty elaborate as other users can rate your game and offer descriptive keywords to your creation, from "brilliant" to "repetitive". So be sure to invite the right friends who can understand your style!!! You can also invite guest mascot stars! Isn't that amazing?!


You are only allowed to create 3 levels that you share on the server side. If on the server the company deems that you are good at creating levels, you can then create some more. If the company decides that your levels are not good enough, then you are stuck and you need to cancel these levels until you are being granted the right to create some more! So that is interesting because it shows that the company is afraid that users aren't gonna design levels good enough and that this game relies heavily on people's ability to create neat levels. If users are not gonna create brilliant designs, then this will be a failure because it only comes with 3 small levels ... This is like a creation suite for gamers that welcome creative individuals into playing, creating and sharing! I cannot wait to try it. If only they would send a free copy to designers, they would have great levels designed!!

In the meantime, here is a video of the trailer:

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Graffiti revolution

In the series I love animation, I found this graffiti animation that is really fun to watch.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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Get rid of your books online!

I don’t know why nobody thought of that before. You can now get rid of your books on the virtual space! Web sites sell books, second price books, offer people to sell their personal books, but no site aggregates the needs of users in coordination with students who wants to get rid of their past year textbooks or more recent used books.

Selling books online is a new concept and most people do not think to sell used books online. I am not sure of the competitive advantage with local resellers such as university associated bookstores, but this site that allows you to Sell TextBooks is really neat: you enter the ISBN number of your book and it offers you a price for it. If you don’t have a ISBN number for your book or if you’d like a deal for a specific book, you can just email the bookstore. You ship your books to the bookstore (shipping being reimbursed after 10$ of books are being sold to the company). A very convenient way to get rid of your textbooks and you can also check the price for any books you want.

They usually buy books that are in good or better condition, that have an ISBN and that have a demonstrated demand in the used book market. Books that they typically do not buy are: encyclopedia sets, magazines, music books, comic books, books that are in poor condition, romance series and western novels, outdated text books, outdated computer books and Time-Life books. I tried with a few books, unfortunately not all of them are popular, so it seems it would work best with university textbooks, but it is worth a try. So if you want to clean your desk or need a new series of textbooks, this is a place to try!

For the beauty of the eyes ...

A video on the beach by Keith Loutit that resembles stop motion (effect Tilt Shift) found on this super neat French blog Fubiz. The video animates beach lovers that shape like sharp color points using the fashionable effect called Tilt Shift, effect I used a lot to present my sculpture work, playing with a unusual depth of field, to create optical illusions and to give it a maquette look and feel. This effect is apparently also called smallgantics, popular effect based on a Thom Yorke music video.
For the amateurs of the animations with the beach, don't forget to check “la plage” by Bokanovski.

Beached from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Another video by Keith Loutit where the effect is even more stunning!

Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

A very satisfying video of human motions within the light. Large format camera and filmed in high definition, the video entertains the viewer with light coordinated with motions. It is pleasing and becomes satisfying to watch the dancer twisting and jumping throughout the streets, playing with water and flowers. The soundtrack is a nice add-on by M83 (You appearing, Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun), Sigur Ros (Staralfur) et Besnard Lakes (Devastation). Enjoy!

Human Movement in Light from Jordan Clarke on Vimeo.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure