A place like a Muscle

I am really enjoying this Muscle NSA project carried out at the Hyperbody Research Group at Delft University. This is a programmable building that can reconfigure itself.

For the exhibition Non-Standard Architecture ONL and HRG realized a working prototype of the Trans-ports project, called the MUSCLE. (...) Programmable buildings change shape by contracting and relaxing industrial muscles. The MUSCLE programmable building is a pressurized soft volume wrapped in a mesh of tensile muscles, which change length, height and width by varying the pressure pumped into the muscle.

What is interesting is the interaction they designed engaging people in a playful activity:

Visitors of the Architectures Non Standard exhibition play a collective game to explore the different states of the MUSCLE.

The public interacts with the MUSCLE by entering the interactivated sensorial space surrounding the prototype. This invisible component of the installation is implemented as a sensor field created by a collection of sensors. The sensors create a set of distinct shapes in space that, although invisible to the human eye, can be monitored and can yield information to the building body. The body senses the activities of the people and interacts with the players in a multimodal way. The public discovers within minutes how the MUSCLE behaves on their actions, and soon after they start finding a goal in the play. The outcome of this interaction however is unpredictable, since the MUSCLE is programmed to have a will of its own. It is pro-active rather then responsive and obedient. The programmable body is played by its users.

There is also a slight connection with the blogject concept:

For the behavioral system this means that the produced sensorial data is analyzed in real-time and acts as the parameters for pre-programmed algorithms and user-driven interferences in the defined scripts. These author-defined behavioral operations are instantly computed, resulting in a diversity of e-motive behaviors that are experienced as changes in the physical shape of the active structure and the generation of an active immersive soundscape. The MUSCLE really is an interactive input-output device, a playstation augmenting itself through time.

Why do I blog this? what I like in this project is that it mixes different aspects of the HCI world: games, games software, architecture, usage of sensors. In the end, the outcome is pretty original and the visitors' experience seem to be intriguing. I also like how it modifies the relationship of the visitors to a dynamic place.