Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coded silverware

Organizing plane tickets, barcode, highway lines in term of their coded visualization, Rodolphe Dogniaux presents the visual common coded points between these objects. He proposes that if a weave pattern can be a structural element of a function, then he can use it to conceive objects. He starts by playing with a leather sofa under the principle of weave pattern. He ends up with two weave coded sofa!

He applies this principle on silverware and thinks in term of geometrical zone rather than geometrical weave. He creates “couverts zonés codés” Coded zoned silverware

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Twirl the reactive skirt

, created by Megan Galbraith, is a dynamic and reactive skirt that is controlled using a fuzzy logic reasoning algorithm, and programmed with a fuzzy logic controller, dixit Megan. This skirt has a bend sensor embedded along the seam of the back side, and it thus detects when the wearer is standing up straight, sitting down, or bending over. The sprinning flourishes alter their behavior based on the posture of the wearer.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Talking with owls using mobile phones

This project explores technologies to augment our understanding of bird populations in order to allow these populations to speak to us about their habitat. In particular, in a collaboration between the MIT Media Laboratory and Maine Audubon, the researchers use cellular technology to augment the process by which volunteers collect information for an annual owl survey in Maine.

The core methodology was developed in a regional pilot census of Connecticut's owl population demonstrating that the audio quality of cell phones is sufficient for the discovery and interaction with owls.

In Maine, they plan to deploy cell nodes for calling and recording owls, and provide an interface for the public to vicariously participate in the census from the internet. They hope to gain insight into the social networking processes of collaborative interpretation and annotation of a shared database; and knowledge representation for the bird-census domain.

The cellular-based survey may also provide insights into the hearing range of owls, duplication of vocalizing individual responses in adjacent experiment sites, the response rate of owls due to current weather or human presence, and comparison between trigger-based and naturally occurring responses in surveys.

The Owl project's web site.
This work is created by Dale Joachim, Susan Gallo , Glorianna Davenport.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Zone of emergency - Networks, Tactics, Breakdown

Amber Frid-Jimenez is teaching a class at the MIT Visual Arts Department this spring on Introduction to Online Participatory Media: Zone of emergency - Networks, Tactics, Breakdown (4.366/4.381). The course is equal parts theory, art, technology and play, exploring the wild archive of the web. The class combines an overview of the historical "art for all" approach of early net-art and tactical media with an experimental take on the popular social web today.

Time Mondays 7 – 10pm and Wednesdays 9:30am – 12:30pm
Location N51-315 IEL

The course introduces an overview of web-based platforms as means through which to explore the cultural, social, political, and economic impact of mediated communication. Hands-on design exercises and experiments are continually framed and examined by critical reflection and discussions. An overview of historical "art for all" and participatory art practices, of early net-art and current public art practices will show how digital communication and culture have altered the way in which collaboration occurs, changing conventional notions of authorship and giving rise to the collective elaboration of meaning.

This seminar/workshop is taught in two parts. The Monday Night@VAP lecture series entitled Zones of Emergency co-organized by VAP Director Ute Meta Bauer and Lecturer Jae Rhim Lee will be open to the public, but will be considered a lab for the course. Lectures and panel discussions will serve to contextualize the theory of participatory design practices in times of emergency. This course is being co-organized with Jae Rhim Lee (4.391: Understanding the Problem: Research as Artistic Practice - FEMA Trailer Project).

Students from various disciplines and backgrounds are welcome. Please
contact Amber at amber [at] media [dot] mit [dot] edu for more information.

Prerequisites: permission of the instructor. Limited enrollment of 12
students. 4.381 Graduate Level H (12 units), 4.366 Undergraduate HASS-E
(2-4-6 units).

Amber Frid-Jimenez,(617) 869-9840, Office: N52-342, Hours: W 1–3pm and by appointment

Teaching Assistants
Kate Hollenbach, Course
Cati Vaucelle, Lecture Series
Lauren McCarthy

About the Instructor
Amber Frid-Jimenez is an artist, designer, and recent graduate of the MIT
Media Lab, where she studied with John Maeda in the Physical Language
Workshop. Her work confronts issues ranging from politics and surveillance
to representations of women in media. Her recent work includes interactive
video installations, performance-based participation from large-scale online
audiences, and painting. She has presented her work internationally at
institutions including Banff New Media Institute, Rhode Island School of
Design, Cornell University, Harvard University, School of the Museum of Fine
Arts (Boston, MA), Smithsonian Institution, American Institute of Graphic
Arts, and at independent venues such as Art Interactive (Cambridge, MA),
Upgrade! International (online), WMMNA (online), and DFN Gallery (New York)

More resources
Amber's MS Media Lab thesis

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Monday, January 28, 2008

Designing the future

Food for Thought: typography and food reunited.

"Holidays are always a time to gather around the dining table with family and friends to share good food and stories about times gone by. Now family favorites--whether text or images--can actually appear on the fruit, nuts, and vegetables being served with the help of a laser sign cutter. Since the process takes only five minutes per edible, the food messages can be extremely timely."

Before 3D printing musical instruments or computer etching on bread, David Small had thought of printing on fruits, a way to catch the attention of Martha Stewart. This is the story that today Dr David Small told us during a talk at our lab.

Awesome speaker and visionary designer, he presented his twenty-year history of inventing the future of visual design. From the beginning, as a student of Muriel Cooper in the Visible Language Workshop, he has maintained a strong interest in understanding how technology is changing the way that information can be designed and appreciated. His company, Small Design Firm, creates unique environments in which people come into contact with rich, tactile information. With a focus on the interplay between computer technology, interaction, dynamic typography and information design, he sketched out some next steps towards the Design of the Future.

I loved his story, the way he is fond of typography and sees it everywhere as a design principle for his interactive products. I found his Museum of Sex installation perfectly expressive.

One of the four interactive exhibit for the Museum of Sex

He revisited the written correspondence of a prostitute with one of her client. The exhibition presents a bed, with a women underneath a fabric, with letters projected onto the body shape traveling through the interstices of the white sheets. The letters resemble ants that dynamically convey the message of her fate, constructing words from her correspondence that announce her death. Very well executed, the piece is moving. What fascinates me about his work, is the actuality of his design principles. He proposes that design research is the key to the future innovation, well... we'll see...

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Graphic new theme for iGoogle

After Boing Boing's Adventure in Lollipopland theme for iGoogle, John Maeda just released a graphic theme. John Maeda offers a series of online gadgets, e.g. a calculator, a clock, an elegant interactive display of his Ten Laws of Simplicity. More recently he launched a new theme on iGoogle. The theme changes based upon the time of day (every 4 hours), and is based upon a series of strokes he drew by hand and a simple algorithmic manipulation thereof. Enjoy!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Friday, January 25, 2008

Web trend map 2008

I loved the web trend map of 2007 by Information Architects Japan. Here it is, the 2008's version as an interactive web trend map and/or A0 size printable poster for your office as presented by Swissmiss. The map includes almost 300 of the most influential and successful websites and pinned them down to the greater Tokyo-area train map. Enjoy!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Wearable vs furniture radiator

Another interesting design concept, the modulo radiator by Anna Gotha, discovered on Kontrastblog. Anna Gotha wanted to make more use of the heat from a radiator by designing a radiator with multiple functions. The modules are designed with an upholstered aluminium core to use the installed radiator parts as a piece of furniture to lean up against. The core is warmed up by the radiator to be used outdoor.

Apparently the radiator is made of multiple parts that can work independently from one another or connected to each others. Heating parts can be hanged on a wall, carried in a purse, or used more traditionally as a "furniture" that heats a large surface.
Existing radiators take up too much room and the design is often rather conservative. With the new radiator, Anna Gotha has made use of the heat, and at the same time given the user a more functional and simple design.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Thursday, January 24, 2008

RSS feed what is in my pocket!

Burak Arikan just released his latest creation my pocket commissioned and announced by Turbulence.

"MYPOCKET discloses the artist's personal financial records to the world by exploring and revealing essential patterns in the daily transactions of his bank account. These are the records that we usually keep secret, whereas financial institutions intensively analyze them to score our credibility. Archived on the site, the artist's two years of spending history is analyzed by the custom software to predict future spending; these predictions sometimes determine his future choices, creating a system in which both the software and the artist adapt to one another. Influenced by today's techno-cultural milieu, MYPOCKET presents a hybrid interface to a living physical/digital process."

Woaaaaa I cannot wait to know what Burak is spending these days away from the media lab! The software does object prediction -ATM, groceries, rent, Fauchon, Les Galeries Lafayette, and so on.
The objects are the products of deliberate analysis and living. A predicted object is the physical evidence of a future event, it is produced when the event happens.
It does generate stunning graphs of transactions with Burak's personal touch. The network model generates list of predictions about future spending. It shows the unprocessed model of dynamic relationships between transaction items and their effects changing overtime.
And the cherry on the cake: an RSS feed of banking transactions!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Hugging my furniture

A landscape designed for the body. These livingstones, "les coussins galets" created by French designer Stephanie Marin, remind me of Ernesto Neto's work. I stumbled upon these and I love them. I can now embrace my furniture, discover the spaces inside, around and between my body!

See also the felt rocks by Molo!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A button to learn electronics

If electronics for dummies does not work for you, there is a button that teaches you electronics.
The Digg button works as a beginner electronics that teaches how to solder and program microcontroller. The link with Digg is that each time you push the button, the button flashes "Dug" and increments the counter up to 999 "diggs". The Digg kit was created by Phillip Torrone from Makezine, Kevin Rose from Digg and Limor Fried aka Ladyada from the MIT Media Lab.

The project is open source, and documented with parts list, schematics and code available.

NB: For every sale of the Digg button kit the designers are giving $1 to the EFF Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Useful inventions

By graphic artist David Aja.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tell me a story about computers ...

These pictures are part of an awesome book Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers by by John Alderman.

Today with my three fellows from the media lab - Nan Wei, Amit and Seth - I just passed my final physics 123 exam at Harvard University.
I am now qualified to connect the world of analog electronics to the digital one using... a beautifully vintage 8051!!! If you want an easiest way to make things talk, Tom Igoe's book might be the way to go!

Don't forget to check the computer history museum and the post by 37signals showing outstanding computer pictures. We never get enough of seeing all their buttons and the magic of their mechanics.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle



Screenshot from the symbol serie building

I love pictograms. IIT Bombay offers graphic icons for signage systems to be used for your design works in .eps format: Hospitals, Railway/Bus stations and Public building environments. Enjoy!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Human sculptures

The gigantic modern bronze figures of taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming are inspired by the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi chuan. His sculpted bodies in action remind me of the playstation statue-like forms of people playing with playstation. Our next step is to create 3d sculptures of people playing second life and exhibit them in second life!

Thank you Nan Wei for introducing me to the work of Ju Ming!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Sunday, January 20, 2008

A personal fitness coach

The Personal Robots Group at MIT researches on social affective touch for robots and designs robotic teddy bear! Recently Cory Kidd completed a PhD from the group and started a company: Intuitive Automata Inc.

Intuitive Automata Inc. creates robots that can help you in your everyday life. By applying new research in sociable robotics, the company is developing robots that can talk, see you, and help you in many ways.

Their first product is Autom™, a robotic weight loss coach, designed to help people who are trying to lose or keep off weight. Autom helps by encouraging you to stick with your diet for long enough to create long-term change and keep extra pounds off!

Autom the weight loss coach! - Photo © Intuitive Automata Inc. 2007

The research that led to this product started at the MIT Media Laboratory in the Personal Robots Group. Their earlier results in controlled Human-Robot Interaction studies have shown that a robot can be seen as more credible and informative than a character on the screen. Hence, there is reason to believe that a robot may be a more effective mechanism for conveying the behavior change message. Results showing that a robot can be more engaging than an animated character lends itself to the possibility of creating a set of longitudinal interactions, or a relationship, that is longer-lasting than previous techniques and therefore also more likely to have the opportunity to create long-term behavior change.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Physical visualization

Mount Fear Statistics for Crimes with Offensive Weapon South London 2001-2002 (2002) corrugated cardboard 2.3m x 1.85m x height 1.85m

After tactile videos or high touch visual, data visualization becomes sculpted and physical. Artist Abigail Reynolds works with materials to bring fugitive knowledge and connections into the immediacy of physical experience.

130 layers of 10mm polystyrene with sprayed finish

In this work, she generates data sets relating to the frequency and position of urban crimes. Each individual incident adds to the height of the model, forming a mountainous terrain.

MOUNT FEAR Statistics for Violent offences 2001-02 Central Manchester (2003) Scale: 1:22,000 (1cm:22m) Relief: 1:24 (1 layer represents 24 offences per km2) Fits a 4x8ft x 70cm plinth. Height 203cm (including plinth)

The imaginative fantasy space seemingly proposed by the sculpture is subverted by the hard facts and logic of the criteria that shape it. The object does not describe an ideal other-worldly space separated from lived reality, but conversely describes in relentless detail the actuality of life on the city streets.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Participation Art Online

Amber Frid-Jimenez, member of the Open Studio team, focused on the emergence of online art communities for her master thesis.

She designed WikiPhone, a system in which multiple participants collaborate on soundtracks in real-time, modifying existing online videos; OpenBrand, a system that allows participants to rewrite advertisements; Emma On Relationships, a video blog inviting participants to call in for love advice; and several other projects, exploring aspects of creativity and collaboration.

For her thesis she examined the commonalities within these systems to define design principles governing the creation of participatory media, and to explore the potential of these systems to effect social and political change.

You can download her thesis!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Friday, January 18, 2008

The Den Den Mushi

Have you ever thought of inventing a new fruit? The type of fruits you find in anime can be inspiring. Slugs, insects, monsters can also be a source of inspiration for new design objects. I remember loving the Den Den Mushi, the Transponder Snail Phone, a snail that works as a portable phone in One Piece.

A physical representation of the One Piece "den den mushi" - Photo by MJ Reyes

Well not far from these electro-snail ideas, designer Peter d'Alessandro invented a fruit, sketched a cannibal one, a fruit that cooks another fruit by working as a solar oven. This is particularly self-contained and sustainable!

The plant cooks the fruit by working as a solar oven

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Flat or wrapped machines

All the parts of this sewing have been polished and nickel-plated. Every reference to hand making has been avoided, although this is the most labour-intensive work Marloes Ten Bhomer said she has ever made. The piece deals with the trust humans have in machines.

This next piece contrasts well with the polished sewing machine. Would the artist say that it contains references to a labour-intensive wrapping process? The artist motive for making this beer bar came from seeing a documentary on a meat-factory. This factory made one big piece of meat out of little pieces of meat by gluing it together. Afterwards it was being presented as one big rump steak.
"What I find very interesting about this is the way that people deal with information. Something is not what it seems to be - Marloes Ten Bhomer"

This work by artist Marloes Ten Bhomer stands as an example on how social and individual percepts can be taken for granted in everyday design. The artist usually revisits these percepts and sometimes codifies them into material form. Last year I gave a lecture on semiotic principles for practical design that takes in consideration the visual aesthetic production process from the perception, the conception, the inception and the reception of information. I see a lot of table top interfaces in interaction design. Their references should be made clearer. It would strengthen the definition and context of the project and clarify their research goals. I find the analysis of this process very useful to organize how social and individual percepts are codified into material form.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Knitting RSS feed data

Created by Ebru Kurbak and Mahir M. Yavuz, News Knitter is a data visualization project which focuses on knitted garments as an alternative medium to visualize large scale data.

News Knitter converts information gathered from the daily political news into clothing. Live news feed from the Internet that is broadcasted within 24 hours or a particular period is analyzed, filtered and converted into a unique visual pattern for a knitted sweater. The system consists of two different types of software: whereas one receives the content from live feeds the other converts it into visual patterns, and a fully computerized flat knitting machine produces the final output. Each product, sweater of News Knitter is an evidence/result of a specific day or period.

New Knitter will be presented at the Seamless fashion show in Boston at this end of the month! In 2006, my team and I had presented at the Seamless fashion show, Taptap , the affectionate scarf!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Playstation human sculptures

Sculpture in perforated steel with sections upholstered in felt

Designers came up with a landscape of concept furniture derived from the statue-like forms of people sitting, standing or leaning against walls engaged in playing the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The result is "sculptural and machine-like". Each piece contains a PSP unit and users are encouraged to step inside these structures to play, the idea being to create an individual gaming experience while allowing for interaction with other gamers in other pieces using the PSP’s wi-fi capabilities.

Inspired by gaming, after the Nintendo Wii, the Wii-fit is coming. Also check the new hypnotic video-ad for playstation!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Monday, January 14, 2008

Rapid manufactured textiles

Macedonia Tray design by Janne Kyttanen, 2007.

Following up on this thread about rapid prototyping and mass customized objects, Jiri Evenhuis came up with the concept of Rapid Manufactured textiles in 1999 opening new frontier of possibilities for the production of textiles in the future. The first commercial products were launched by FOC in 2005.

City Hall, Amsterdam. Ramon Albers. 3D computer graphics enable designers and architects to envision very complex creations at ... the miniature scale

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Structural innovation

Re-designing acoustic musical instrument according to the abilities and characteristics of rapid prototype materials

After laser printing on bread, one can print instruments! My friend Amit Zoran designed this really neat concept of an acoustic guitar sound box that has been given a unique sound and behavior through a CAD/CAM process. His research goal at the MIT Media Laboratory in the Ambient Intelligence research group, is to find and analyze a space for structural innovation, especially for acoustic instruments.

His works enables players to customize their own sound by assembling different sound cells, e.g physical parts of the instruments designed in CAD/CAM, instead of considering the instrument as one big sound box. Each string can have its own bridge and each bridge can be linked to different cells. By changing a cell' size, material or structure, one can create customizable sounds.

His innovative take mainly consists of printing, using a 3D printer, cells drawn into a vectorial software. These cells, made of 30cm radius, have a variety of materials strong enough to carry the pressure of the strings and handle resonance.
People can download recommended sound cells from the internet in order to change or manipulate their guitar sounds.
In the near future, Amit is planning on testing the physical behavior of different combinations and to find optimal structures.

Don't forget to check the video!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mediated Social Serendipity: a new SMS system for taking care of your Facebook friends

Mediated Social Serendipity is a report describing mobile-phone services and applications that enable users to “stumble into” friends despite being apart physically. It develops in four concept-categories for social serendipitous mobile-phone experiences.

One of the most astonishing idea presented in the report is “Nudge”, a system that recognizes patterns of everyday life and detects if a user has not send news to a friend for a long time and acts on his/her behalf accordingly. For instance, Asa’s phone registers that she is far away from home. It gathers surrounding information and will generate a text message to a good friend of hers who she has not called in several months.

The automated message would be:
Hi! Right now I’m about 3142 kilometers south-west from where you are. Felicia, Per and I are walking along the beach in Tarifa, Spain. It’s 25°C and the sun shines. We hear seagulls and waves breaking. Speak to you soon! /Asa

As she walks down to the water to dip her toes in the ocean, her phone automatically sends a message to her friend. One can immediately sees the pros and cons of such system, but what strikes me the most is the desire to have an automatic scriptwriter who kind of takes care of forgotten friends. Imagine the friend receiving an automated SMS that is kind of saying:"I am having fun at the beach, I have not contacted you for 5 years, I really don't have time to send you any news, I don't even think about you because my phone does the job for me, have fun in your gray Paris!"

Wouldn't that be an awesome insulting SMS?! I seriously think this system has to be implemented and connected to Orkut, Facebook, MySpace or any social networks. This could be a new generation of text messaging system who takes care of all your social network pseudo friends. At the end of the day for a lot of people (but not me!) most of these contacts are not really your friends, you are not really honest with them, so you can take care of them in a semi-automated way. You don't really receive news, they are not really interesting and personal, they are just Spam version 2, the kind of spam you don't know what to do about. I am not sure what to think about it, but it is a very daring idea! This report was really exciting to read with a lot of funny, clever, and realistic visions on what mobile technology could mean within various social contexts.

Don't forget to check another way mobile technology tries the impossible in a funny way!

More information on the report that also surveys existing systems:
Formo, J. (2007). Mediated Social Serendipity. Master thesis. The Institute of Industrial Design at Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gun Powder

Space No.1 1988 - Tokyo, Japan by Cai Guo-Qiang. Materials: gunpowder, paper, light & glass

The Dragon Has Arrived! 1997 - Venice, Italy.
Materials: Salvaged wood from sunken boat, Chinese flags, electric fan, lights

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

GPS tracking and goggle earth navigation

I've looked for GPS - Global Positioning System- recently. Wouldn't that be awesome for the iphone to have GPS technology integrated while being connected to Google Earth? All in one certainly! One product, the GPS Tracking Key, is a pocket sized device that receives signals from the twenty-four Department of Defense GPS satellites orbiting the earth. And it is ... Google Earth compatible!

"The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the only fully functional Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Utilizing a constellation of at least 24 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals, the system enables a GPS receiver to determine its location, speed, direction, and time. Other similar systems are the Russian GLONASS (incomplete as of 2007), the upcoming European Galileo positioning system, the proposed COMPASS navigation system of China, and IRNSS of India. - Wikipedia"

As you might already know, the internal computer accurately determines the GPS location of the device within 2.5 meters and records this data every second. In this GPS tracking device, the Data can be downloaded and view in Google Earth simply by plugging the Tracking Key into the USB port of a computer. It seems that connecting it to the iphone wouldn't be that hard!

Here are a few links shared by Aaron Zinman on samples to code the iphone:

MobileScrobbler -- Last FM client with lots of UIKit use, iPod access & monitoring, Calendar Integration
doom ported
nes emulator home page
svn repo
MAME ported over SDL
bluetooth/wifi access/cell tower
video conferencing

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Is this a land made for you and me?

Is this a land for you and me 1 by artist Paul Ramirez Jonas.

Upon entering the exhibition space the public encounters short bases each supporting a hand bell. All the hand bells together form a song. Meaning, for each note in the melody, there is a hand bell. In fact, the bases are a blow up of the song's score, cup up so that each note is isolated. The only notes that remain grouped are the chorus. Members of the public are invited to take one bell/note, take it along, and ring it as they see the show. On their way out, they would place the bell back on its pedestal. The song is thus fractured and dispersed in the space. There is a slim chance that the public, either by chance or through cooperation, could perform the melody.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle