What if objects can dream?

In the world of Internet of Things, objects are able to collect data by sensing their environment.
It is possible to embed all sorts of sensors in things, objects.
These sensors measure not only simplistic data like humidity or movement but sense and synthesize a bunch of complexer data that knows about the environment and the person, which can be used, maybe even, to derive a mood out of that. Objects become alive. They store information, have a memory, and are able to communicate with each other through the internet with us. What if we treat these objects not persé as slaves? What if we don’t use them to improve our physical and mental functioning?
Can they inspire us instead? What if we threat them as sensible beings?

In this workshop we would like to focus on the poetic aspect of the Internet of Things and think about objects that dwell and have their own life. We think, philosophize and discuss about whether objects can become part of our emotional life. In three thematic roundtable worksessions (± 2 hours) we work on future scenario’s for objects that have a secret life of their own.

Goal of the workshop is to be inspired, inspire others and to exchange knowlegde.
The outputs of the roundtables will be used as the basis for educational programs.
The roundtables will evolve around 3 perspectives:
– Design / art / play
– Critical engineering
– Research / reflection

Roundtable 1: Objects that dream

by Yoana Buzova & Aldje van Meer
Keywords: storytelling, speculative design, make and play

When thinking of the IOT, we mostly see creepy videos about sleek people in sleek homes living optimized lives full of smart objects. These videos seem to radiate the belief that the purpose of a well-lived life is efficiency. There’s no magic or joy or silliness in it. Just an optimized, efficient existence. Can we also try to keep the future at least a bit WEIRD and playful?
Within this round table the poetic potential of the IOT will be further explored….
In this workshop we speculate, prototype, draw and come up with dreamy future scenario’s.

Roundtable 2: Stupid smart things

by Beam van Waardenberg
Keywords: critical engineering, design autopsy: dissecting the things of IO.

In the world of IOT, objects become more and more smart. The smarter the better. These smart devices, are promising to help us becoming more healthy and efficient human beings. The gadets are beautifully designed and come with app’s, updates, global databases, sharing, liking and other spreading of your achievements measured by these smart devices.

“Real” experience with the smart gadgets (Mindwave brainsensor, EPOC, MI-band and others) indicates that the results are extremely poor or the algorithm is simply wrong, or indicates other things – is not what is promise or what you expected. The design is beautiful, the marketing impeccable, the packaging gorgeous,  but at best it only partially works. The AI inside is not (yet) as smart as is suggested.

During the workshop we analyze a specific smart device, the MI-band. The data coming out of this sensor will be displayed and explained. We even compare the data of two different smart devices. The hard data are mapped to calories and sleeping time. Some pattern recognition or AI is required to translate to calories and sleep time. But how accurate are these data? Studying Japanese in “deep sleep”?

We can get angry and throw the gadets away or … we can dream of another, more poetical approach, a new friendship, playful, with a lot of humor. Could we treat these gadgets as our new babies and start educating them? Can we invent new ways of comedy around these stupid smart things?

Roundtable 3: Manifesto for Whispering Objects

by Michelle Kasprzak & Deanna Herst

How do you design for a world without visible interfaces and secretely communicating objects?

In 1991 Marc Weiser (chief scientist, Xerox Parc, “godfather” of ubiquitous computing) published the legendary article “The Computer of the 21st century”: one day computers would  be seamlessley interwoven into the fabric of our every day lives.
Twenty six years later, in 2016, this scenario seems to have become reality: technology has become embedded in many objects around us  – invisibly and with yet unknown implications. How do we re-establish our personal and affective connections to connected objects in times of IoT?

In this workshop we will compose a Manifesto for Whispering Objects. Which statement can we (designers, users, engineers) make towards objects that are networked and invisibly connected? How do we re-connect to these closed objects?
We will collect and (ab)use relevant  references, articles and quotes about possible perspectives for the design of IoT-objects, be they speculative, realistic or absurdistic.