4 Inspiring Projects

Posted June 12, 2014

1. Pixie Dust, a levitating display

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Researchers at the University of Tokyo are using speakers to suspend tiny objects in mid air. Once the particles are floating the researchers projection map graphics onto the tiny objects. In essence, this is a fluid, levitating screen with many different applications in a number of industries.

Calling the project Pixie Dust, the researchers use a 4 speaker array to lift the particles into the air and move them around. They are able to push and pull the objects in a 3 dimensional space. The shapes created are then illuminated. The lift and the movement create the pulsing, floating, drifting effect that is so interesting. This project takes the idea of a display and turns it around, transforming it into something malleable and customizable to any location.


2. Play The World, a music machine that plays the internet

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Zach Lieberman, one of the minds behind Open Frameworks, has a new project that pushes the limits in computer interaction. Play The World is a keyboard interface software instrument that monitors and plays back internet radio on key.

When a player pushes a key, the corresponding note is played in “radio” from somewhere around the world. The stream has to be live. There are no pre-sampled samples. The program searches for changing notes in real time. So if a player holds down a key, a BBC broadcast could be followed by Lebanese pop.

Lieberman calls his work “poetic computation”. Play and exploration are evident in his work. Play The World opens up technological interaction and reveals a new way to mine data on the net. If you are in London in July, you can get a first hand impression of the instrument at the Barbican Gallery.


3. Emergence, an engaging lighting installation at Heathrow

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This great lighting installation was built for a seafood restaurant in Heathrow’s International Departures Lounge in Terminal 2. Similar to our thoughts on Our Future Departures, this cool lighting is an entertaining and engaging installation in space that is usually dull.

The design of Emergence mimics the play and elegance of fish in the water. It is a seafood restaurant. The structure’s LED arcs rise thirteen meters in the air, just over 40 feet for us in the States. The frames are constructed from carbon fiber components, borrowing manufacturing techniques from the way that airplanes are now made.

It would be interesting to to learn more about the program that runs this LED installation, but the aesthetics and the application of creative lighting warrant praise.


4. Recycle Your Plastics

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Recycling or Up-cycling is a process that remains a bit of a mystery for most of us. We put our refuse in a bag and set it on the stoop. Then it disappears and our good feeling goes with it.

But Dave Hakkens, a young Dutch Designer, has created a series of machines that turn plastic into new, useable items, while revealing the process. He calls his project Precious Plastics. The designs are now open source, so we can all download and build these machines that make a recycling a less mysterious act.

The system is made up of a shredder and three different types of manufacturing machines. The small manufacturing line includes a rotational molding device, an extrusion machine, and an injection molding machine. Using these three machines, the user can turn a used bottle into several houseware products.

This intimate manufacturing process broadens our thinking on repurposing technology in lo-tech ways. The touch of interactivity would be a fantastic installation in a museum setting. The concept could be extended to other cultural areas where resource management and recycling are areas of education.

ESI Design

NBBJ’s New York experience design studio, ESI Design, transforms places into experiences that seamlessly weave the physical and digital worlds together.

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