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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“What Screens Want”

What Screens Want is an essay inter­pre­ta­tion of Frank Chimero’s talk from Build, 2013, dis­cussing the evo­lu­tion of tech­nol­o­gy and what it means for design­ers. He talks about methaphors as assis­tive devices, and draws some inter­est­ing metaphors on his own.