Filtering by Category: things

MP3 players or phones as standardized computing component for upcoming products

Phones and MP3 Players as the Core Component in Future Appliance by Albrecht Schmidt and Dominik Bial (IEEE Pervasive Computing) was a curious morning read. The paper wonders whether mobile devices such as MP3 players or phones can become the standardized computing component for the next decade. Or, in a more industry-oriented vocabulary, will they be OEM products that become parts of other devices?

"As mass-produced mobile devices continue to become cheaper, they could increasingly serve as a component in a product. For the sewing machine for example, we could imagine replacing the color display and custom computer with a programmable touch-screen MP3 player or phone. The casing design and custom software could hide the commodity device so it would be hard to see without dissembling the sewing machine. Using off the-shelf devices as the core computing component could significantly reduce the development effort of the appliance’s computer parts and hence could allow more people to create sophisticated appliances. The skill sets required are programming a standard platform and electromechanical design, but not hardware development. Combined with 3D printing, this approach could broaden the set of people who could produce and distribute complex appliances."

Why do I blog this? Simply because I find this idea intriguing.

Technological convergence in your toilet

Anyone interested in robots and networked objects in multi-functions artifacts may be intrigued by this gorgeous AM/FM restroom radio with telephone that I ran across at the flea market the other day.

This device is an intriguing example of technological convergence, the tendency of certain technologies to be combined in a single device (as opposed to their existence as multiple products).

Of course, it's an example of awkward convergence as you can imagine. However, I definitely find it highly curious. So much so that the use case provided on the package if quite important to observe:

... which is reminiscent of another brilliant (and more recent) converging device found by Fabien some time ago:

Why do I blog this ? basic observation about how convergence can lead to strange solution, especially due to contextual reasons. This led me back to what Henry Jenkins wrote some time ago:

"Rather than a single machine that suits every need, technology is converging into many Black Boxes that address the needs of the consumer depending on the constraints of their situation"

"An internet of things that do not exist"

In a recent article about the Internet of Things for ACM interaction, Chris Speed discusses the notion of "a continuum of artifacts that are more or less valuable in their material or immaterial form". (Networked objects being designed at the HEAD-Geneva design school)

On this continuum, Speed distinguishes two poles: "things that are actually in the world, and things that are not actually in the world"... which raise interesting new question from both a design and cultural standpoint. To him, the materiality of both is influenced by their potential "information shadow", what Speed describes as "an immaterial other".

This decoupling between material things and their immaterial counterpart may lead to interesting "design futures" described in the articles... and that explain the title of the paper ("An internet of things that do not exist"). Some excerpts that caught my attention:

"we may need to design blank objects that have no other function than to become the host for memories that have lost their connection with the original physical artifact. Other times, discarded and culturally lost objects may be used because they retain some of the physical attributes that trigger associations with immaterial things (e.g., memories) that have lost their original material partner. (...) As well as becoming conduits that allow us to recall information from the past, things will help us to recover memories that have lost their physical place in the world (...) In the Internet of Things, objects may end up on your mantelpiece with associated memories of completely different artifacts. The value of these vessels and our attachment to them will likely depend on the social data stored in them, rather than on their physical form."

(Potential candidates as blank objects meant to receive memories?)

Why do I blog this? simply because I find interesting (culturally and design-wise) this distinction and the consequences that the author describes. The idea of having blank objects (and designing them) or to associate immaterial counterparts to objects which are totally different may lead to curious avenues. This is of course a shift that will be important to explore in several context and I wonder about the implications for the kind of domains we are interested in at Liftlab.

Autopsies: The Afterlife of Dead Objects

Panasonic 8 track player (A Panasonic 8-tracks music player found last week at trashed next to the flea market in Geneva)

Morning read on "Material World" (found via):

"Autopsies: The Afterlife of Dead Objects

This project explores how objects die. Just as the twentieth century was transformed by the advent of new forms of media--the typewriter, gramophone, and film, for example--the arrival of the twenty-first century has brought the phasing out of many public and private objects that only recently seemed essential to "modern life." What is the modern, then, without film projectors, typewriters, and turntables? How has the modern changed as trolley cars disappeared and hot air balloons were converted into high-risk sport rather than the demonstration of national pride in science and a crucial tactical mechanism of wartime? But what will our twenty-first century entail without mixmasters, VCRs, or petrol-driven automobiles? Does the "modern" in fact program the death of objects? What is the significance of death for things that live only through such a paradoxical program of planned obsolescence? How can cultural historians and theorists participate in the reflection on the ends of objects, from their physical finitude to the very projects for their disposal, the latter increasingly of concern with the multiplication of things that do not gently decompose into their own night."

Why do I blog this? Great questions asked in the project, lots to digest from the website and the weblog

Besides, this excerpt reminded of a discussion with Basile about his gf's interest in how objects die/vanish. The first picture above depicts this topic at the general level (a now defunct technical-object lineage) but the place I found it (next to a trash) exemplifies the death of a particular object (that I actually saved). There are ten two levels for objects death: as the "lineage" level and the instantiation level.

The picture below shows the traces of a dying object (and not necessarily the whole lineage though) in Montreal: