Category Archives: Interaction

Resonate 2015 Day 2

Notes from Resonate 2015 Day 2  in Belgrade, Serbia.

Nicolas Nova

Near Future Laboratory

  • Not as interested in “classic” design – post-its etc.
  • Thinking about the future through films and props.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey. Picture Phone
    • Minority Report. Gestural stuff, but also mundanity of cereal box with annoying “live” characters on them. Stephen Spielberg.
    • They Live. John Carpenter.


  • Films acting as cultural baggage for technology, helping its diffusion in society.
  • Film as a critique of society.
  • Film fans who create artefacts.
  • Speculative Design approaches.
    • Audio Tooth. Auger-Loizeau.
      • Cover of Time. Seen as “real”. Encourages dialog and debate.
  • Design Fiction – speculating about the future through prototypes and artefacts.
  • Scenario planning through the mundane – leaflets, catalogues, newspapers.
  • Interested in the symptom of “the thing” (self-driving cars, robots etc), thinking about the unexpected consequences.
  • Thinking about Topic, Practices, Technology or Idiom (architype), which play off one another.
  • Frederik Pohl – “A good science fiction story should predict the traffic jam, not the automobile”.
  • “Downstream user research”. E.g. future newspaper about sport released with Manchester Evening News.


Corner Convenience

  • Studying the convenience store.
  • Looking at things that are mundane, but were amazing when they were produced – batteries, condoms, aspirin.
  • Workshop imagining convenience objects colliding with new technologies – Replicate while you wait device. Scratch cards for winning a million followers on Facebook. Continue reading Resonate 2015 Day 2

Resonate 2015 Day 1

Notes from Resonate 2015 Day 1 (sort of – lots of stuff had already happened but this is the official opening) in Belgrade, Serbia.

Opening presentations in the Kolarac main hall by Adam Magyar, Nicolas Nova and Jesper Kouthoofd.


Adam Magyar


  • Interested in extending photography beyond the cropped frame, extending the image into time.

Urban Flow

  • Earlier work putting a flatbed scanner behind a lens (2006).
  • Wipes out the background and just retains the motion/people as little points in time.
  • Some lovely detail in close up like the movement of leaves in a tree that just looks like a horizontal blur.
  • Everything looks like it’s going in the same direction because even objects heading in the wrong direction are flipped.



  • Built a rig to scan a New York subway train at high speed as it passes (2009). Also Tokyo and Paris Metro.
  • You get “portraits” of people as they prepare to disembark.


Stainless (video)

  • High speed video from the train as it arrives in the station, slowed down by a factor of 60, so one second becomes one minute to see faces and parallax.



Nicolas Nova

Nicolas Nova, HEAD Geneve, @nicholasnova

Continue reading Resonate 2015 Day 1

The Internet of Why: A Smart Design Salon


I was lucky enough to be invited to be a panellist at “The Internet of Why”,  an evening “salon” organized by Smart Design in London. The event started off with a viewing of Connecting: Makers, a mini-documentary on the creative community sponsored by Microsoft. Using this as fodder for our conversation, we spent the next hour and a half responding to a diverse set of questions put to us by Gordon Hui from Smart Design, covering everything from concepts of the Internet of Things, issued of privacy, the potential of wearables and more.

The three other panellists were:

A great evening. Thanks to Smart Design for the invitation to participate. Full video is below.

Smart Design Salon on the Internet of Why (Final version) from Smart Design on Vimeo.

Stefanie Posavec @ Eyeo


I’m in Minneapolis at the annual Eyeo Festival. Like Resonate, it is focussed on data visualization in all of its forms, on the intersection between “art, interaction and information”.

See also: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3


Analog Algorithms with Stefanie Posavec

Today is workshop day, and I’ve been lucky enough to sit in a half day session with Stefanie Posavec, who ran a class called “Analog Algorithms”, focussed on developing ideas for data visualizations on paper. Stefanie has history with Microsoft Research Cambridge, having worked a number of years ago on a visualization of changes made by Charles Darwin to the Origin of Species. This is work she did with Greg McInerny, which ended up on display at MOMA in New York, as part of the excellent Talk To Me exhibition.

Today’s workshop took place on the 9th floor of the Walker Art Centre. We sat four to a table, with large sheets of paper in front of us, and many pens and pencils also arrayed. Definitely set up for something hands on.


Stefanie started by going over her background and portfolio. She articulated the purpose of data visualizations as giving “meaning and connection”, “subtle insight” and “truth and honesty”, and argued that by drawing on paper you exploited a “tacit knowledge” and a physicality in representation that you don’t get by jumping straight to data and code.

Continue reading Stefanie Posavec @ Eyeo

Resonate 2014

I’m just travelling home from Belgrade in Serbia, where I’ve spent the last few days at Resonate. Resonate is a conference, or more like a festival, primarily attended by people doing visualization work. It’s full of great talks from a community that is very tightly networked, brought together by the equally highly networked Filip Visnjik, who also founded the website Creative Applications. Many of the talks at the event act almost like portfolio presentations that give an overview of some compelling computer graphics or interactive installations created through the development of complex systems of code and electronics. Many of the biographies of speakers at the event start with a similar sentence: “[Person A] is a programmer and artist working at the intersection of [X] and [Y]”. This emphasis on “art” as a discipline is an interesting one, since it releases many of the attendees from the obligation that we often have in our lab of having to justify their work on pragmatic grounds. Presenters can instead focus on aesthetics and abstraction. Many of the presentations cover visualization and interaction work done with other artistic disciplines such as dance or music.

P1210772 bravely set up one of their “Digital Emulsion” installations in the public lobby. Projection mapping onto string.

Wesley Grubbs shows work for the McKnight Foundation. A data visualization made from the resume of an artist from the foundation was then hand annotated by that artist.

Below are highlights from the event, plus a little bit about my own 30 minute presentation.

Continue reading Resonate 2014

Research Through Design Session 1 | Room 2 | Doing

Continuing my notes from the recent Research Through Design conference in Newcastle [see opening keynote]. This is the first of the sessions I attended on Day 1. Each session was held in a small room that sat about 30 people, all around a large conference table, and featured talks by 3 or 4 of the participants who had each submitted some kind of artefact to the event. Each artefact was presented, then plenty of time was left for discussion amongst the presenters and audience, not that it felt like there was a division between the two. Each session was tied thematically, with the following talks all being connected through the “Doing” of design research.

Below are my notes from day 1 of this event, featuring biological/architectural work, code, craft and paper electronics.


Continue reading Research Through Design Session 1 | Room 2 | Doing

Things We’ve Learnt About…Search and Web Use

We have a new issue of the “Things We’ve Learnt About…” magazine, a regular publication we release each issue of which summarizes the research work of the Socio-Digital Systems team around a particular theme. This one is all about “Search & Web Use” and has been primarily authored by Richard Harper and Sian Lindley, with a LOT of hard work by Nick Duffield, who did all the design work on it.


The digital version is available for free, or you can buy a printed version if you want (they’re really nicely printed, but done print-on-demand so are a little pricey – we don’t make any money from them).

This issue is a summary of the SDS “Beyond Search” theme, focussing on Sian’s “5 Web Modes”, and showcasing various projects that have come out of the work, including Seeds, Cards and our work with Aalto University on “Domesticating Search”. I’m pretty proud of this magazine series, and this is another great issue for us to give out both internally and externally, to showcase what we do.

As a reminder, there are now three issues of the magazine, on Communication, Memory and Search. All of them are available from the here.


RCA Degree Show 2012 & Microsoft Design Expo

Microsoft holds an annual design competition for students from around the world who are usually studying either interaction or product design. It’s called the Design Expo. Students work in groups at their school, usually over the spring semester, to a brief that we set and they then select their best team, who travel to Redmond, Microsoft’s home, to present what they’ve done to an audience of employees.

This is the fifth year that I’ve acted as a liaison between Microsoft and a design school in the UK or Europe. I’ve done 2008 [Dundee], 2009 [Dundee], 2010 [Central St Martins Textile Futures] and 2011 [Venice], sharing the load with Tim Regan and Alex Taylor.

This year’s the Royal College of Art represented the UK in Design Expo. We’ve had a long-standing relationship with their world-class Design Interactions program, and this year we liaised with James Augur to help select students to go to Redmond.

I had a preview of the RCA student work earlier in the year, then we picked the two projects to send to Redmond, which were shown at the colleges degree show in early July, before heading to the US. Rather than taking place at the RCA’s “head office” near the Albert Hall, this year the Design Interactions students showed their work over the river at Battersea in a very cool creative space called Testbed 1.

Testbed 1

The first of the two student projects we picked for Design Expo was The Superstitious Fund by Shing Tat Chung. Shing has developed a fully working investment fund, but one who’s algorithms for buying and selling are based on superstition. It primarily uses numerology, looking for example for lucky and unlucky numbers, as well as phases of the moon, to decide when to buy and sell. The amazing thing abut this project is that it is fully working. It is trading live on the stock market, has £4000 pounds worth of investment put it in by people from around the world, and includes a contract, stock certificate and every other legal requirement.

This is a classic example of the schools critical approach to design. It both forces us to think about the random nature of the stock market, for example, or the illogical sense that people have of numbers and data, while at the same time being very real.

Shing had a trade board mounted at the degree show, showing live data for the fund. He also presented some of his other projects which all look at superstition and illogicality.

The Superstitious Fund Project A Manual for an Uncanny Stock Market

The second student project which went to Redmond was Neil Usher’s beautiful Pareidolic Robot. Related to Shing’s project, Neil’s interests are in human’s capacity to look for shapes, meaning and data in our surroundings where there often isn’t any. According to WikipediaPareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant.

Neil built a fully working robotic system, which uses face recognition to look at clouds. He’s got a lovely selection of images that the robot has found, many of which are face like. The robot is beautifully engineered, with two cameras that look like eyes, and can reorient themselves on the end of stalks.

Again, this is a fully realised object, but one that asks questions about our past times, and what it means to do idle activities. Do we feel so much pressure to use all of our time “efficiently” that we might have to give over the pleasures in our lives, like cloud spotting, to some piece of technology?

Cloud Watching Robot Cloud Watching RobotCloud Watching RobotCloud Watching Robot

So that’s the two pieces of work that went to the design expo. You can see the other participants work here. Neil and Shing did a great job compressing their joint presentation down to 10 minutes. Hopefully the video will be up soon.

A few other pieces of work stood out for me from the RCA Degree Show. Here’s some shots:

All That I AmAll That I AmAll That I Am

Running Lives with DataDr. Weiskind's DayRotifer FarmRotifer FarmA Brief History of PowerPeckham Community GamblingThe Thread-Wrapping MachineThe Thread-Wrapping MachineThe One-Way Ticket

Central Saint Martins Degree Show 2012

My phone shots from the CSM show this year, in their cool new King’s Cross building. Most of these are from the Textile Futures program, which was, as usual, really thought provoking.

Project from the TEXTILES FUTURES MA students. I’ve managed to link these mysterious looking shots to their project pages up on the course homepage. They’ve been pretty smart, and made dedicated project pages for each, which hopefully they’ll keep alive now that the students have graduated.

Protocells by Shamees Aden Urban Insect Habitats by Catherine Verpoort
The Transformative Chronotype by Julie Yonehara The Transformative Chronotype by Julie Yonehara
Random Methods by Lynsey Coke Random Methods by Lynsey Coke
Random Methods by Lynsey Coke Daily Poetry by Ingrid Hulskamp
Blooming Body by Langdi Lin Blooming Body by Langdi Lin
Material Symphony by Cindy Wang Material Symphony by Cindy Wang

The following is a combination of shots from the MA in Communication Design, the BA in Graphic Design and the MA in Industrial Design. Sorry, I don’t really have any details about these projects.

WP_000385 WP_000387
WP_000364 WP_000365
WP_000369 WP_000370
WP_000373 WP_000374
WP_000372 WP_000376
WP_000378 WP_000379
WP_000383 WP_000384
WP_000389 WP_000390

Here’s a few other bits and bobs, including a rather prominent example of the New Aesthetic.

Tim on the peddle powered video show Bridge
"New aesthetic"? Possibly based on a crate from Doom "New aesthetic"? Possibly based on a crate from Doom

“The Things We Keep” by Christian Svanes

Christan Svanes video of objects and their history is a simple piece of work that reminds me of Berg’s visualizations or the great experiments and ideas from the Oslo School of Architecture and Designs “Touch” project (particularly this one). This idea that objects can hold their history, and through that keep us in touch with out past, is one that I find really compelling, and is obviously related to my interest in digital heirlooms. It’s also being explored through projects like “Tales of Things”, using RFID tags to connect objects to their data.

the things we keep from svanes on Vimeo.