Making Things Interactive

January 21, 2008

Assignment 1: Precedents

Filed under: 1: Post Something Interesting,Lea — tovelet @ 10:55 pm

I couldn’t pick just one example, so I’ve listed a few projects with various interpretations of “interaction.”

A flashy, dramatic example that brings electronic kinetics (often a basis for “interactive” projects) to the field of haute couture is the work of Hussein Chalayan (warning: his site makes noise). The engineering and production are certainly impressive, but, as is often the case with high fashion, the implications for real world situations are somewhat oblique. The model stands rigidly while the garment runs its scripted transformation, so this is less an example of interaction, or even reaction, than just plain action.

Another type of project that displays some elements of interactivity is kite photography, which allows the user to “see what the kite is seeing”. This is a one-way relationship; the kite provides photographs, but on a planned timer or a radio controller. The kite does not (yet) make informed decisions about when to take a picture. Some kite photography using a simple inexpensive rig can be found at

A third category of interaction is the “DIY product,” which is designed to be customized. The designer necessarily supplies constraints, but encourages the user to put their own creativity into the product as well. Some trendy vinyl toys are sold blank, to be decorated by the consumer. Of course Lego and other such construction kits fall into this category. DIY products with electronic interactions include Lego Mindstorms and RoBlocks.

Some of the most interesting interaction Ideas (as opposed to Projects) that I’ve seen can be found at Andrew Plotkin’s Left Foot Living Review. They range from possible (“Musical Graffiti”, “Labyrenv”) to probably very expensive (“Halfwalls”) to probably not possible with current technology (“Shelf Paper”).


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