Attitude in Design and Technology

Living Objects

Attitude in Design and Technology
Date: 5.11.21
Institution: Interaction Design Lab
Location: Bern, CH
Living Objects

In 1965, long before the computer was introduced, Douglas Engelbart presented how digital computing could become part of our daily lives. The demonstration included some fairly simple tasks: a shopping list or returning overdue books - but it was presented in a never-before-seen interaction of man and machine. Nowadays, we are used to digital interactions influencing our lives. We accept that a phone recognises our face, or that an always-listening speaker can neither be controlled by speech, or that our watch lets us know how well we slept last night. All these smart devices come with the promise that they will make our lives easier, safer, more enjoyable. On the other hand, these objects also carry new risks and responsibilities. Whether we welcome these new technologies or not, we are getting used to objects that include a "digital aspect" that redefines the way we interact with the object. We have reached a point where the potential of such objects seems endless, but here we must also question how firmly we want to be influenced by them.

Digital Prototyping
Platforms such as Arduino, Processing and others make it easier to create digital interactions and bring technologies to life. While "smart devices" are commercial products that have to meet a market reality, a digital prototype can be a design tool that allows us to question, criticise, speculate about an object. Like the computer in Engelbart's presentation, a digital prototype can be an exploratory tool to change the way we interact with everyday objects.

About this Lab
In the lab we will collectively create an alternative reality of everyday objects. After a short introduction, we will form small groups to think up "living objects" that question, irritate, change or criticise an everyday object and the way we interact with objects. These "living objects" could simply change a familiar object, or they could also be critical agents that prophesy "what is to come" or "what could come".