The success of Hidden Senses (Sony), is the most evident sign that times are changing. We are all attracted to the poetic and sensorial aspects of technology. We are ready for a trustworthy, calming coexistence with the new generation of connected objects (and spaces), provided that all seems simple, spontaneous and “natural”: perhaps the definition of IoT will become IoE, or the Internet of Emotions.
We very much like this new scenario in which there will be objects in our home, in our daily lives, adapting to us, using human-like interactions, perceiving and responding to our needs and desires, even before we are able to express them.
This is the generation of “pro-Active” objects. Long gone is the era of touch screens on every surface, appliance, and object to show its high-tech identity. Interaction designers have long awaited for these sensing objects to become mainstream. In particular, in Northern Italy, the birthplace of Arduino, the electronic prototyping kit designed by and for designers (in 2003, 15 years ago!) who wanted to prototype objects with hidden, sensing, and integrated technology.
“The companies behind the brand activations, and perhaps the public, have begun to understand, accept, and even expect connected devices, appliances and technologies throughout today’s modern home. Technology is not just for show and is not an afterthought.”
– Julie Blitzer
Digital UX Manager
We found especially interesting to see how different the installation was from Sony’s (also successful) brand activation at SXSW 2018 only a month earlier, which focused on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) interfaces. Where as that exhibit led with technology, Hidden Senses at MDW offered a vision for seamless integration of technology into our home life.
“The exhibition, held during Milano Salone, [was] composed of five case study rooms. As you journey through each room, ‘HIDDEN SENSES’ will be gradually revealed; from conceptual interaction into examples of contextual application.”
Hidden Senses [Sony Design]
Breath of Light was an installation that invited us to interact in a natural way. The playful involvement made visitors feel like the protagonists rather than just observers. Exhaling breaths appeared to turn on a dynamic lighting installation. These kinds of natural and metaphoric interaction modalities could bring a familiar language to how we will interact with intelligent objects in our living spaces.
Discover the Breath of Light [Preciosa]
Google made its first appearance at MDW with Softwear, an installation curated by Li Edelkoort in collaboration with Kiki van Eijk, in the gallery spaces of Rossana Orlandi. They proposed small, yet significant scenarios in which technological products were exposed together with familiar household objects. These objects had an aesthetic that fit right in: they were reassuring, simple, pleasing to touch. Not an upsetting revolution, but a calming convenience.
The theme, developed with an apparent simplicity, is the future of hardware object design, in particular, how we could improve the feeling of electronic devices, thus integrating a natural quality into the technology permeating our daily lives and environment.
The event underlined how the sensorial aspect of electronic objects is a growing trend,
“I-table, designed by Piero Lissoni, is an innovative multi-living and smart table idea, which maintains its function as a support, study and conviviality surface, but can be transformed into a small cooktop, if necessary.”
I-table highlights a belief that there are no precise borders between the places and activities for work and home life. Thanks to technology becoming more integrated into our lives, living spaces can transform to fit varying needs.
smart table [Kartell]