Category Archives: Interaction

The Amazon Dash Button

Amazon’s branded Dash But­tons were intro­duced in March 2015, allow­ing products to be eas­ily re-ordered with a single click of the bat­tery-powered device — not to be con­fused with the unbranded UK Amazon­Fresh ver­sion (which works like a mini­ature ver­sion of the pop­u­lar hands-free Amazon Echo).

As an inex­pens­ive (US$4.99) wifi-enabled IoT device, in less than 3 months they were start­ing to be re-pur­posed. There are a hand­ful of approaches, from fairly non-tech­nic­al ARP probe detec­tion through to bare-met­al repro­gram­ming. Amazon them­selves are also reach­ing out to developers and smal­ler brands with their Dash Replen­ish­ment Ser­vice.

Get­ting star­ted seems pretty simple — when you get a Dash but­ton, Amazon gives you a list of setup instruc­tions to get going. Just fol­low their list of instruc­tions, but don’t com­plete the final step . Do not select a product, and just exit the app.

Most tech­niques use some­thing like IFTT to con­nect the but­ton event to a IoT trig­ger of your choos­ing. Instruct­ables has a great step-by-step tutori­al, and there’s some great open-source code avail­able on GitHub.

Amazon Dash Button (Tide) on washing machine
The Dash But­ton as it it usu­ally used — to order more Amazon products (such as wash­ing powder).

The detailed specs:

  • The CPU is a STM32F205RG6 pro­cessor which is an ARM Cor­tex-M3 that can run up to 120mhz and has 128 kilo­bytes of RAM and 1 mega­byte of flash memory for pro­gram storage
  • The WiFi mod­ule is a BCM943362 mod­ule which in com­bin­a­tion with the CPU make it a plat­form for Broadcom’s WICED SDK
  • There’s a 16 mega­bit SPI flash ROM which is typ­ic­ally used in con­junc­tion with the WICED SDK for stor­ing applic­a­tion data
  • An ADMP441 micro­phone is con­nec­ted to the CPU and used by the Dash iOS applic­a­tion to con­fig­ure the device using the speak­er on a phone/tablet
  • There’s a single RGB LED and a button

Quite power­ful for US$5.

How­ever, the next step in this evol­u­tion has just been released — the AWS IoT But­ton.

The AWS IoT But­ton is a pro­gram­mable but­ton based on the Amazon Dash But­ton hard­ware. This simple Wi-Fi device is easy to con­fig­ure and designed for developers to get star­ted with AWS IoT, AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SNS, and many oth­er Amazon Web Ser­vices without writ­ing device-spe­cif­ic code. 

Tar­geted at developers, this US$20 ver­sion con­nects to the web using the Amazon Web Ser­vices Lambda plat­form without writ­ing a line of code (ok, so not developers then). How­ever, even the “Hello World” example described here seems quite tech­nic­al — in some ways, even more so than hack­ing the ori­gin­al (and at four times the cost). It seems to have three types of but­ton pushes, though — short, long and double for more interactions.

AWS IoT enables Inter­net-con­nec­ted things to con­nect to the AWS cloud and lets applic­a­tions in the cloud inter­act with Inter­net-con­nec­ted things. Com­mon IoT applic­a­tions either col­lect and pro­cess tele­metry from devices or enable users to con­trol a device remotely.
Miguel Chevalier “Magic Carpets 2016”

Magic Carpets 2016

Magic Car­pets 2016 is a giant lumin­ous car­pet pro­jec­ted on the floor inside of the MK Cen­ter. This car­pet is made of dif­fer­ent vir­tu­al and mul­ti­colore graph­ic scenes inspired by emblem­at­ic forms asso­ci­ated to urb­an land­scapes in Milton Keynes which are very con­struct­iv­ist. The art­work bene­fi­ci­ates of a music­al dis­play spe­cially cre­ated for the install­a­tion and com­posed by Ray Lee. The tech­nic­al pro­duc­tion is by French firm Voxels Pro­duc­tions.

The vis­it­ors will be able to carry small alu­mini­um spheres gen­er­at­ing the music.  By using pres­ence sensors the install­a­tion is inter­act­ive — in a visu­al way this flu­ent uni­verse is impacted by the vis­it­ors’ movements.

The moves modi­fy the ele­ments’ tra­ject­ory under the feet draw­ing a new com­pos­i­tion which remains stun­ning.  Like a giant kal­eido­scope the spec­tat­or is immersed in a world of col­ors, mov­ing forms and travels into an ima­gin­ary and poet­ic game of optic­al illusions.

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Can Buyukberber - Tool

Can Buyukberber: Physics + Visuals

Most recently known for his live Tool visu­als, Can Buy­uk­ber­ber is an inde­pend­ent visu­al artist & dir­ect­or spe­cial­ising in audio/visual per­form­ance, digit­al visu­al arts and motion graph­ics design. He stud­ied Phys­ics and Visu­al Com­mu­nic­a­tion Design in Istan­bul, Tur­key. Cur­rently study­ing at San Fran­cisco Art Insti­tute’s Art and Tech­no­logy MFA pro­gram as a Ful­bright Grantee and work­ing on immers­ive exper­i­ences using sound, light and space.

His works have been exhib­ited in Europe and North­ern Amer­ica includ­ing large scale a/v pro­jects at Sig­nal Light Fest­iv­al (CZ), Inter­na­tion­al Digit­al Arts Bien­ni­al (CAN), IX Immer­sion Exper­i­ence Sym­posi­um (CAN), Cur­rents New Media Fest­iv­al (US). He is inter­ested in trans­lat­ing obser­va­tions and insights on the imman­ent intel­li­gence of nature, self-organ­ising sys­tems, form­a­tions in time and pat­terns of the invis­ible space between the objects into vis­ible, aud­ible, tan­gible expressions.


McTrax: A Paper Placemat Music Production Studio

McDonald’s McTrax: Play the Placemat

Cre­at­ing music can really trig­ger cre­ativ­ity in (young) people. That’s why McDonald’s in the Neth­er­lands intro­duced McTrax: a paper placemat turned into a full music pro­duc­tion station.

By the use of con­duct­ive ink on a piece of paper you can con­nect your smart­phone to the placemat via Bluetooth.


The "Maschinenmensch" or machine-human (from Fritz Lang's Metropolis)

VR Storytelling as “Audience Experience”

To explore the audience’s exper­i­ence in VR, Karin Soukup and Alex­an­dra Gar­cia partnered with Stanford’s Media Exper­i­ments, the Nation­al Film Board of Canada, and inde­pend­ent film­maker Pais­ley Smith.

Using low-res­ol­u­tion “exper­i­ence pro­to­typ­ing” and extens­ively test­ing three basic scen­ari­os, they attempt to determ­ine the role of agency in VR storytelling. In doing so, they con­struct what may be VR’s first form­al dis­cip­line — “Audi­ence Exper­i­ence” (AX).

Their top five takeaways:

  1. Real­ity is con­struc­ted (once the audi­ence pokes a hole in real­ity, they have already fallen through it)
  2. Hav­ing a body means being some­body (there is no such thing as a neut­ral observer)
  3. Look­ing is doing (for bet­ter or worse, the audi­ence dir­ects their own gaze)
  4. 360° is less than 180° (the more there is to see, the less the audi­ence remembers)
  5. 360° is more than full circle (the more com­plete the envir­on­ment, the more it resonates)

Their con­clu­sion? VR storytellers should be “mata­dors”, mov­ing away from dir­ect­or towards influ­en­cer – wav­ing the red cape to show users where to look. To do this effect­ively, we need to know their emo­tion­al, cog­nit­ive and phys­ic­al exper­i­ence: hence the focus on audi­ence exper­i­ence.


Bob Dylan — Like A Rolling Stone

This inter­act­ive video (from 2013) is the song’s first offi­cial video. It allows view­ers to use their key­boards or curs­ors to flip through 16 chan­nels that mim­ic TV formats such as games shows, shop­ping net­works and real­ity series. People on each chan­nel, no mat­ter what TV trope they rep­res­ent, are seen lip-syncing the lyrics.

“I’m using the medi­um of tele­vi­sion to look back right at us,” dir­ect­or Vania Hey­mann told Mash­able. “You’re flip­ping your­self to death with switch­ing chan­nels [in real life].” Adds Inter­lude CEO Yoni Bloch: “You’ll always miss some­thing because you can­’t watch everything at the same time.”

The sta­tions you can flip through include a cook­ing show, The Price Is Right, Pawn Stars, loc­al news, a ten­nis match, a chil­dren’s car­toon, BBC News and a live video of Dylan and the Hawks play­ing “Like a Rolling Stone” in 1966.

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Keeping streets clean: vote with your butt

We all want clean and safe spaces around us. Pub­lic polling dis­covered that a stag­ger­ing 86% of people think lit­ter­ing is a dis­gust­ing habit yet only 15% of us would actu­ally con­front someone and tell them that. Tak­ing pride in the areas we live and work in helps to build bet­ter com­munit­ies, and saves money.

This is why from May to Octo­ber, UK crowd­fund­ing net­work Hub­bub tri­alled a new approach to tack­ling lit­ter­ing on Vil­li­ers Street, West­min­ster, using the latest think­ing on beha­viour change and aware­ness rais­ing from around the world.

Hub­bub’s 5 point lit­ter manifesto:

We think that every­one can work togeth­er to make loc­al spaces clean­er, safer and more invit­ing. Let’s all put lit­ter in its place:

  • Gov­ern­ment: Don’t loiter on lit­ter. Cre­ate a strategy that has teeth.  Show lead­er­ship by provid­ing or stim­u­lat­ing fund­ing.  Engage with the sig­nat­or­ies of the Lit­ter Pre­ven­tion Com­mit­ment and oth­er import­ant stake­hold­ers to cre­ate a robust plan win­ning wide­spread support.
  • Busi­nesses, NGO’s and Loc­al Author­it­ies: Act with a uni­fied voice to raise lit­ter up the agenda with gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic. Share bright ideas and sup­port innov­at­ive, col­lab­or­at­ive beha­viour change schemes nationwide.
  • Loc­al Organ­isa­tions: Work to cre­ate new coali­tions, tak­ing loc­al action on lit­ter. Busi­ness Improve­ment Dis­tricts take a lead­er­ship role and share res­ults so that suc­cesses can be rep­lic­ated elsewhere.
  • Media! You have a role too. Help bring this issue ser­i­ously back into pub­lic debate. Cap­ture the ima­gin­a­tion of the pub­lic, pro­mot­ing pride in loc­al areas.
  • Every­one: Lit­ter is in your hands, and will only change if we change our beha­viours. Let’s wise up and bin it. Tak­ing pride in our neigh­bour­hoods will save money and help build bet­ter communities.

Inspired to run your own cam­paign? Click here for more inform­a­tion on rep­lic­at­ing Neat Streets.

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Werner Herzog Talks Virtual Reality

“I am con­vinced that this is not going to be an exten­sion of cinema or 3‑D cinema or video games. It is some­thing new, dif­fer­ent, and not exper­i­enced yet,” the film­maker Wern­er Herzog said of vir­tu­al real­ity. An inter­view by Patrick House with the film­maker about sim­u­la­tion and experience.


Giorgia Lupi @ Accurat

Gior­gia Lupi is an inform­a­tion design­er in Brook­lyn, New York. Her work and research chal­lenges the imper­son­al­ity that data might com­mu­nic­ate, design­ing enga­ging visu­al nar­rat­ives able to con­nect num­bers to what they stand for: know­ledge, beha­vi­ors, people. She is co-founder and design dir­ect­or at Accur­at, a data driv­en research-design and innov­a­tion firm. She has been draw­ing weekly data as 1/2 of Dear Data from New York.


ACPAD — the wireless electronic orchestra for your guitar

ACPAD is the world’s first wire­less MIDI con­trol­ler for acous­tic gui­tar. Play thou­sands of instru­ments, trig­ger unlim­ited sound samples and effects, live record loops… without tak­ing your hand off your guitar!

  • 8x Touch Pads: ACPAD has eight pres­sure sens­it­ive touch pads that can be assigned to any MIDI intru­ment, Sound effect or sample that you can imagine
  • 10x Pre­set But­tons: You can also cus­tom­ize and save up to 25 pre­sets for quick access dur­ing and between songs
  • 2x Loop­er Chan­nels: There are two loop­er chan­nels that you can use to live record, trig­ger or stop loops from your guitar
  • 2x Slider Faders: ACPAD also has two sliders to mod­u­late the intens­ity of your sounds and effects while playing.


A Raspberry Pi powered Magic Mirror


Blog­ger Dylan Pierce decided he wanted to give someone the gift of a smart mir­ror. He went with an afford­able, DIY approach and with just a little bit of cod­ing and some ingenu­ity, he was able to make a mir­ror that’s got people like me drool­ing all over it. Here’s how he did it.


Design principles for reducing cognitive load


Every time you vis­it a web­site, a pro­cess of learn­ing is ini­ti­ated in the brain. Wheth­er it’s the nav­ig­a­tion, lay­out, or that auto-rotat­ing image slider on the homepage, your brain has to learn how to use the site while keep­ing track of the reas­on you came there in the first place. The men­tal effort required dur­ing this time is called cog­nit­ive load.

via the remark­able

Wireless DMX Lighting Control Using Arduino and Vixen

A step-by-step tutori­al on how to con­trol and sequence wire­less light­ing effects — either for install­a­tions, dis­plays, or wear­able designs. It’s based on the Ardu­ino board (or Freak­labs’ Fred­board) using Vix­en soft­ware (v3). Everything you need — from scratch right through to code and work­ing examples.


Pi Zero computer so cheap it comes free with magazine


The Pi Zero is a fully fledged com­puter which meas­ures just 6.5cm by 3cm. Made in Wales, it sells for just £4 in the UK and $5 in the US. Rasp­berry Pi is also giv­ing the device away for free with the pur­chase of its £5.99 monthly magazine, The MagPi.

How­ever, it’s not the only kid on the block. The C.H.I.P. (from Next Thing Co.) launched earli­er this year has a sim­il­ar form factor and sim­il­ar price. Here’s a blow-by-blow com­par­is­on — but it’s dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks.

Either way, these sub £10 com­puters will dis­rupt many exist­ing busi­ness mod­els (and cre­ate a few new ones, as well).


Lytro Illum light field camera

Lytro’s approach to pho­to­graphy is to cap­ture as much data from the field of light as pos­sible – instead of focus­sing on one par­tic­u­lar setup to cap­ture the moment. The multi-dimen­sion­al image is cap­tured with an array of micro-lenses. This wealth of data then gets trans­lated to an inter­act­ive ‘image-scape’ where you can redefine the focus freely, as many times you want.


The mighty Joseph Kos­in­ski invited Munkow­itz to the GFX party once again, this time for his spring block­buster fea­ture film OBLIVION.

One of the most widely seen Graph­ic ele­ments was Vika’s Light Table, which allowed her to guide Jack Harp­er through his tasks as a Drone repair man in the field of duty. The table itself was built prac­tic­ally, so most of the visu­als were cap­tured in-cam­era, lend­ing a beau­ti­ful optic­al touch to the design.

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