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Workshop on Physical Computing, Copenhagen 2005

In this workshop the participants developed interactive solutions for the five INDEX05 design themes: Body, Home, Work, Play, Community.

Each workshop was explored giving examples of interactive technologies belonging to the different fields: Wearable Computers and Fashion, Domotics, Interactive Environment and Architectures, Toy design and Connected Communities.

It created a unified design approach bridging tangible and intangible design, providing the participants the skills to develop their project from user testing and participatory design to a working prototype. Interaction Design focuses not only on delivering technological solutions but also on understanding the impact that these solutions will have on the users life and on the lives of his or her peers, family and friends. During the workshop the social, economic, cultural, ecological impact of the new technologies was assessed.

The products and experiences were developed taking into account affordance, ease of use, aesthetics and future potential and especially how the design will improve the quality of life of the users. Importance was given to User Centered Design techniques. Participation of the final user in the design process enriches the designers solution and helps redefine goals and strategies in real- time.

The research of users from the outset helps create understanding of how the design solution works in other cultures, how it is perceived and how effective it is, or if it varies from country to country, what is useful and beneficial in a geographic location might be considered impolite and crazy in another.

The main focus of the INDEX05 Competition was to understand this difference and the participants to the Interaction Design workshop was prepared to answer these questions. The products developed included: Wearable devices and intelligent clothing, services to allow a community to share data, interactive public environments, and devices for leisure, communication and knowledge sharing. The participants learned how to prototype their ideas, not only in the form of working electronics, but also as use scenarios of advanced concepts, service design and design strategy of future solutions.

Learning electronics

The Interaction Design Workshop had a 3-week duration. The first week was the knowledge week, the second the prototyping week, and the third was the presentation week. The scope of the first week was to broaden the knowledge of the participants about the five main categories of interest: Body, Home, Work, Play, Community providing examples of state of the art development, historical references, and available technologies. In the second half of the first week took place the brainstorming in which all participants discussed what they learned and started to envision the concepts to be developed in week 2.

During week 2 the groups formed at the end of week one started to concretize their concepts, prepare questionnaires and user interviews to understand their target users and refine their concept. During the second half of this week were developed prototypes according to the user needs, the groups were coached through this session and present their solution to their peers at the end of the week. During the course of the workshop additional information, critique, and coaching was provided.

During week 3 the groups worked on refining their prototypes, adding working electronics, developing use scenarios and strategic design solutions depending on their chosen theme. At the end of the end of the 3-week workshop the first phase of the work for the Cumulus project was completed and ready to be submitted to the INDEX05 Competition.

The project developed were: 
1. Interactive Playground Two networked playgrounds to be installed in different locations in a town, or in different locations on the planet, and allow teens and children to play and learn remotely with other friends. 
2. Bodily Memory A device to collect smells of loved places, objects and people and play them back to relive the memories in a physical and intimate way. 
3. The Arousal Blanket A series of home appliances and bed lining embedded with sensors and actuators able to capture the couple moods and activities and help them visualize the physical and emotional reasons of their discussions or agreement in order to prevent the increase of the younger generations divorce rate.

The workshop was conducted by CUTE CIRCUIT under the supervision of DIFFUS.

Francesca Rosella, CUTE CIRCUIT. 
Michel Guglielmi, Danish school of Design / DIFFUS DESIGN 
Hanne-Louise Johannesen, Copenhagen University-Visual culture / DIFFUS DESIGN 
Simon Løvind, Danish School of Design