Archive for January, 2009

Sonic Bed

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Kaffe Matthews (2006) designed this Sonic Bed. The deeply sensuous immersion of Matthews’ Sonic Bed offers a trance-like corporeal, audio experience that transcends current visual-aesthetic frameworks. Sonic Bed is about a corporeal experience dixit Art Intelligence. Under the mattress of Sonic Bed there lies a network of loudspeakers including six very large subwoofers that produce very low frequencies that penetrate the body. When one lies in the bed the subsonic vibrations create a variety of responses depending upon the individual. Many people find the experience extremely relaxing, some people find the experience unnerving…


A magnetic drum!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

FielDrum by Graham Grindlay is an acoustic drum outfitted with a system of magnetics which are used to induce pushing and pulling forces on a drumstick and ideally guiding a player through correct motions.

How do people learn the kinds of complex physical gestures required to play musical instruments? Although a beginning percussion student may know what motions are involved in a paradiddle, it will still take practice to develop the motor programs required to produce those motions. Part of the underlying hypothesis of the Magnetic Musical Training project is that beginners would benefit from a kinesthetic “preview” of a target gesture’s correct execution. The MMT project is investigating whether people can “learn-by-feel” and if so, how this approach compares to traditional motor training?


One of the current MMT projects is the FielDrum, an acoustic drum outfitted with a system of electromagnets, permanent magnets, and control electronics. These are used to induce “pushing” and “pulling” forces on a drumstick moving it through a desired path in space. In its current state, the FielDrum has two states (attract or repel) which are controlled using the MIDI protocol (noteon messages attract the drumstick while noteoff messages repel it). Presently, we are working to add a position sensing system for the drumsticks as well as continuous control over the electromagnet.


Intelligent tactile materials for navigation

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I recently investigated objects and textiles made in intelligent materials (mostly actuated) that modulate braille text. Texture and communication go hand in hand in braille, so we can neatly experiment in that direction with smart materials.

I recently searched on the web the type of commercial work done with braille, how do products combine tactile information to the design of everyday objects and I found mainly braille exit signs, signs that provide iconic information accompanied by two forms of text: visual and tactile. It is inspiring to see that companies explore Braille in combination to emergency. This specific company for instance is specialized in exit and emergency lighting. I am curious to know how does these systems translate to a visually impaired person? I am always intrigued when I go to Harvard and play with the tactile classroom signs around campus, it is both informational and pleasurable.


Wouldn’t that be neat if this kind of electrical emergency lights could behave with sonic and tactile information? This could be a next step for companies who design signs for navigation and emergency situations. Exploring haptic information in garments as a mean to convey both meaning, comfort and entertainment, commercial work could draw on this type of research exploration and go beyond the scope of static tactile text for navigation.

Children can replicate their toys!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


This is a strong reason to be nostalgic of the past! According to Wikipedia, Vac-u-former was a toy made by Mattel in the 1960s. Based on the industrial process of vacuum forming, a square piece of plastic was clamped in a holder and heated over a metal plate. When the plastic was soft, the holder was swung to the other side, over a mold of the object to be formed. Then pressing a handle on the side of the unit created a vacuum, sucking the plastic down over the mold and shaping it to it. When the plastic cooled it solidified, making an impression of the item. Various molds came with the kit, but almost any small object could be used as a mold.

Because very hot surfaces were easily accessible to a child (or adult) playing with the toy, it probably could not be sold today …


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

[tags] design, children, toys, molding [/tags]

Places and tools for multi generations

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Here it is, the reference paper about intergenerational places and tools written by Edith Ackermann and her peers.

Authors: Decortis F. , Ackermann E. , Barajas M., Magli R., Owen M., Toccafondi G .
Title/reference: From ‘La Piazza’ to ‘Puente’: How place, people and technology make intergenerational learning. In International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol.1, No.1/2, 2008, p. 144-155

How places and tools can be used to help mediate mindful - and joyful - encounters between people from different generations, as well as between newcomers and old-timers to a culture.

Researching with Olivier Vaubourg on designing technological playful interfaces for grand parents and their grand kids, this paper is a milestone to start digging into this divide among generations and solutions from tools to places.

Abstract: The divide between generations and the need to integrate aging populations through life wide learning strategies have been evidenced by researches and policy documents. Yet, the lack of mutually beneficial learning practices calls for innovative solutions to prevent societal fragmentation. In ‘La Piazza’ the purpose was to identify good practices through the use of case studies and interaction design techniques and gauge the potential of digital technologies as enablers of intergenerational learning. In ‘Puente’, the goal is to further explore the transformative power of existing good practices and to provide guidelines for the design of environments in which young and old can grow in connection.

Keywords: intergenerational learning; generation divide; digital technologies; case studies; good practices; interaction design; aging populations; e-learning; online learning; technology enhanced learning.

Edith made the paper available online, so enjoy!

Imagine a story. Create a book!

Monday, January 12th, 2009


Orit Zuckerman a good friend of mine from the Media Lab –we worked together on a few cool projects– now opened her company, Tikatok, that allows you (or your child) to create books based on her stories. You can also order the books made by the children in the community. Such a neat idea! Orit regularly organizes contests, so the company is now growing as a community of young writers. Tikatok also welcomes teachers, parents and libraries.

During winter break, Lauren showed me this beautiful video of this cute French girl, Capucine, telling the most creative story (no worries, it is translated in English). Imagine how such a child would do drawing, writing and telling her creations on a real book!

Enjoy watching this ultra cute video:

… you can also help the friends of Capucine in Mongolia design books on Orit’s site …

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

[tags] children, communication, design research, toy, storytelling, book, too-cute-to-be-true [/tags]