Graduation show of the IDII in Milan, project number 7!

Talking to the Hand: an exploration into the interactive qualities of shape shifting technologies by Oren Horev, explores morphing objects and transforming interfaces. The project is driven by the thought that by changing their shape, computers and digital objects can provide the user with a clear understanding of their status, both tactilely and visually.


The first object developed to illustrate the concept is the cube-shaped InSync hard drive. It indicates the level of synchronization (percentage) with the source computer by twisting itself, misaligning its shape. The less overlap between the two file structures, the more the hard drive twists. To synchronize the drive and computer the user either clicks a button on the screen or nudges the mechanism itself to initiate the alignment.


The second object is a a sort of mouse / touch panel hybrid called Terrain of Information. Moving the touch pad controls the on-screen cursor. Simultaneously the surface of the touch pad morphs in relation to the objects and applications being pointed at. It shows hidden qualities of an object, a big or small bump, for example, represents the size of a folder, while a rhythmic movement indicates the beat of an Internet radio station.
The prototype is composed of a pin-pad and a screen application. The pin pad morphing is emulated by a micro-controlled robotic arm running beneath. A processing application (Java) manages the icons on screen and the kinetic calculations.


The last prototype is the TactoPhone with an active 3D surface that animates and displays shapes (video).
The phone interface allows for interaction with location based information “on the go� and “In the pocket�.
Video scenario 1: the user sets his phone to alert him of nearby events; video scenario 2: the phone tracks the location of people.

Talking to the Hand suggests that shape shifting technologies could bring our current familiarity and comfort with physical objects into the virtual world, creating a more integrated experience.

More in Horev's thesis blog: Shapeshifters and in the PDF of his research.

People keep asking me about Interaction Ivrea being absorbed by the Domus Academy: Domus Academy will keep on using the name “Interaction Design Institute� but neither the staff (read: quality of teaching) nor the vision of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

Sponsored by:

Graduation show of the IDII in Milan, project number 8.

Ana Camila Amorim's project is a mobile communication service that supports the user in the management of their social network and the definition of who, how and how much others can access to them and their information.

The main touch point of the service is the so-called "Presence Phone". Each element on the screen corresponds to a contact and its size represents the amount of communication shared between him/her and the device’s owner. Contacts are organized around tags.


Other people availability to you is visible by the color change of the bubbles. In case a contact is not on the visible area of the screen, you can search for it based on name or related tag. Several tags can be combined in order to reduce the number of results. Once you've found the contact, you can open the contextual menu where one of the options is ‘see details’.

The notification of missed communication appears in a pop-up window listing the missed events by chronological order. Events are identified in relation to the current time (e.g. 5 minutes. ago).

Incoming calls will be notified in full screen with clear information: name, photo, company logo, most recent tags (personal, automatic, local and communication) and last communication event.

Text messages can be responded through the dedicated inbox on the contact detail, by adding a field on top of the previews message. Other people can be added to this message and copies of it also appear on their inboxes. comprises of:


1. Personal card

Each user is issued with a single ‘identifier’ that responds to all of his/her digital communication needs (voice, text). When initiating communication the caller/ sender uses a single ID and a distribution engine diverts it to the most convenient device according to the callee’s preferences.

Contact initiation can be done either by online invitation or card swapping. By accepting a card and approaching it to the phone, the receiver allows the link to be created. Each card has a RFID tag, that when in proximity to a NFC enabled device, validates the user in the card owner’s contact list.

2. Hot spots also allows you to communicate their level of availability to different people according to your context and willingness to be reached. This definition can be done manually or automatically by defining different profiles that are activated during specific periods of the day, or by location awareness or other day to day events. RFID tags placed in different locations (working place, home, cinema, church, etc.) allow the phone to be aware of its environment and adjust accordingly.

Video scenarios.

Graduation show of the IDII in Milan, project number 7!

Hayat Benchenaa's thesis is about the experience of moving to another country, adapting and learning about a new environment and how to make the whole process as trauma-free as possible.

The Moov service service is made of a series of elements, which can be physical products such as boxes and mail but also a website, an SMS service, and a community.

11moooooov.jpg 22moooov.jpg

The MOOV website is a place to meet people, exchange experiences, give tips and suggestions about places. It will also provide the "mover" with all the information needed: notify that the water will be turned off this afternoon or that their electricity has been turned on in their new home, etc.

Hayat designed a range of packing tools which help make the whole moving experience more playful.

The Boxes and Packing elements of the service feature various degrees of technology:

- The no technology box is a regular moving box with holes in it to look right through and see what is inside.

- The second version of the box helps you organize your belongings by logging them into a data base or organizing them in groups. You would get a regular box and large stickers. On your personal page on the website there is an area where you can log all your belongings which is linked to this boxing method.

- the most technological boxes are using RFID tags which are stickers that come in a booklet. The stickers can mark special things such as documents, your favorite plates or anything important. Once the boxes are packed you can scan the boxes with an RFID reader that will alert you when it comes past a tag. The reader (like the Nokia 3220 model that can be fitted with a RFID shell) will inform you what the tag is linked to.

00stamp.jpg 22stamp.jpg
Using the Moovstamp to record the content of a box

Another MOOV object is the MOOVSTAMP that helps create a database of boxes and objects. First you stamp the box or item which gives the item a number, which is linked to the computer through bluetooth. Once the item has been stamped the voice recording is activated so you can name the item and leave a message with it. The message is linked to the digital number and transferred to the database on your computer and the MOOV website. You could stamp a box and name it like this “ Box 2� then while you are packing you can keep talking into the stamp “the family photo album, the 2003 phone book, my expired passports� this way when you look at your database you can find back the box number and what is in it. The speech to voice software will transform your messages into text, so you can look back and read it.

There are several other components of MOOV, i won't list them all but i'll end up my mentioning the "first and last meal" service, the SMS system to help you navigate your new home town and another service which takes care of the appliances and objects that you won't take with you in your new house (like a tv set that you can't take to France because it doesn't match the voltage in the UK) but could be useful to others.

Video scenario. Images from the IDII show.

Graduation show of the IDII in Milan, project number 6!

Control Freaks are devices that attach to everyday objects or living thing. They can sense the movement and sound of their host and connect that feedback to a local gaming platform, translating the manipulation of the host into game play commands on the connected game platform.

11freak.jpg 2frean.jpg

When Control Freak clamps onto a host, its sensors detect movement or vibration of the host object. If the host is a door, then Control Freak can sense it opening and closing. The device augments the behavior of the host allowing it to become the controller of a game. Swinging on an office chair can control the movements of Pong paddles on the gaming screen.

Two games were developed to demonstrate the Control Freaks concept: Brain Candy & Super Safari. Both are played in front of a big screen.

In the Brain Candy game, a Control Freak device is clamped to an ordinary office chair, and the player must swing the chair from side to side in order to control the movements of the Otzi Brain Monster on-screen. Swinging the chair side to side causes the Otzi Brain Monster to move left and right

11brain.jpg 2supersa.jpg
Playing Brain Candy + Playing Super Safari

In Super Safari, the Control Freak device is clamped onto the player's hip. When the player jumps, the Boris Monster character also jumps. Boris Monster must leap over poisonous mushrooms, avoid overhanging spiders and try to capture the little green monsters in the trees.

At the bottom of the project page, there is a scenario of how the Control Freak creatures might one day imbue our daily lives with play.

A project by Haiyan Zhang. Illustrations and character designs were done in collaboration with Myriel Milicevic. My images.

Fifth project seen at the graduation show of the IDII in Milan last week.

Note to Self by Dana Gordon is a collection of objects for daily use. They invite us to focus on ourselves, without isolating us from our environment.

Scuba is an audio device that allows you to change the soundscape from the external environment to your breath. Compatible with an mp3 player, it creates a very intimate soundscape that invites you to slow down and follow your inner rythm. There are three main elements: headphones, a squeezing device and a necklace. The sound of your breathings is captured by the microphone contained in the necklace, it is then amplified and played through the headphones. A soft handheld device controls the ANR (active noise reduction) providing another level isolation according to the pressure applied on it.

1212jb.jpg 909reg.jpg
Jean-Baptiste Labrune and an anomymous testing the Scuba

The Scuba was designed to allow the redefinition of one’s private space by increasing the existing inner sound to the dominant on one’s mind. Squeezing the device (which was soft and felt like a plush toy) enhances the physical reaction in stressful situations and provides sense of control and dynamic sound experience. The gesture can be very discreet as the device can be hidden in your pocket, and therefore is not limited by the presence of people around you. Besides, the Scuba doesn't totally isolates you but provides a progressive experience. The action of pressing and squeezing let indeed the energy out and gives in the same time a very protective feeling, as in the child security blanket.


I was a bit puzzled by the idea before testing it but when i tried it i immediately felt the need to lower my eyes and focus on what i was feeling and hearing, the surrounding became a mere background for the experience.

The second object is a hand held mirror that can visually reflect your state of being. Called the Narciscope, it collects biofeedback data from your hand, the image reflected in the mirror sharpens or blurs depending on how relaxed and tense you are. It is composed of a 7� LCD screen and a web camera embedded within the frame. On the handle, where the fingers are situated, there are Galvanic Skin Response biofeedback sensors.

12maya.jpg 22narci.jpg
Maya Lotan of the Urbanseeder fame with the Narciscope

The sharpness of your reflection in the mirror is a metaphor of the level of focus you can have towards yourself. Since looking in a mirror is a very common practice, the idea is also to consider the usage of this device as a repetitive practice. The sharpness of the image or the blur effect not only provides instant feedback on your internal state but also challenges and hopefully improves your proprioceptive skills.

The last object is the Koobeton, a private notebook with special dedicated space for the owner’s secret self-expression. It can be used from the front to write down regular notes. However, as the name suggests, you can also use it backwards, from the backside of the book. The sketches, secrets and private messages on the last pages can be kept as digital files and later transferred (via Bluetooth) to a computer.

1koob.jpg 2koob.jpg
Dana and her Koobeton

The physical page with its content can be destroyed but the message or drawing is safely and digitally kept in a safe folder on your personal computer. With time the back pages are disappearing leaving only traces of the missing documents from the book.

The back cover of the book contains a touch panel that captures the writing. Each page has a mild decoration on the corner that indicate the borders of the active space of the panel. On the right bottom corner there’s a different ornamentation hinting the ‘check box’ that must be marked in order to save the page. Once it is done, the software (processing) is notified that it has to record a digital snapshot of the page.

Images of Dana Gordon's project at the IDII show. More info on her thesis blog.

Fourth project from the IDII graduation show.

Stint, by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, is a music sharing service that combines physical representions of links to people’s virtual music and a widget that talks to the main music application.

0111swa.jpg 002swarm.jpg

Each “stint� represents one friend and is made of leather. By giving it to a friend, one links it to the main player, collecting the stints into a network. By pressing each one, a song from that person’s music collection that she has sent to you, is played. A song can be sent to a friend by holding both the stint containing that music and the one representing the friend we want to send it to.

The Stints with a richer interaction get used and worn, showing the history of a relationship. More details of this relationship can be obtained by checking the online widget. It will show the listening the origin of each song as well as who you have sent it to and how often, how long ago your friend has played a particular song. This visualization will help you choose more appropriate music for that person or to discover what their musical tastes are. Stint creates a meaningful relationship between the user, the container, the content and how they affect each other, allowing for richer and long-term relationships to exist with high-tech devices.

Technical description:
Each player comes with a set of tokens that have active RFID tags inside each one. The elements can be clipped to each other. The play function is activated whenever the element is pressed in its center and a soft snap is felt. When the user wants to pass a song on to another element he holds both of the stints down until a small chirp in his headphones signals him/her that a transfer has been made.

The main player represents the user’s own music collection and holds most of the main functionalities. A USB bit is hidden inside and the headphone jack is located on the “head� of the stint. The fast forward and backward buttons are also included on the surface of the stint in the shape of little “wings�. This leather element has 2 snaps at the bottom that allow for a change in functionality to occur when switching from an “open� channel where other people can listen in to what the person is listening to.

Her thesis blog. Images of her project at the show.

 1  |  2 
sponsored by: