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.