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Magazine > Lesson #4

Lesson 4 - 22/11/2011

Exercise Three: Motion

Last week we were asked to design an object whose interaction revolves around motion. The motion element can be either input or output (or both) and must be the essence of the interaction.

In the first stage we got together in groups for a brainstorming session to decide what we want to engage in. To help us examine and test our ideas we were instructed to create a ‘video prototype' - a short film in which we examine a simulation of the interaction. This kind of short film provides a good illustration of our object's behavior and is a means to understand, analyze, and refine the interaction itself.

Roni Rosen, Omer Ben-Naim, Itay Kurgan

The first group decided to address motions and interactions associated with graffiti art. Elements such as setting the cans of paint on the floor, the rattle of the cans, a variety of spray heads, and the ‘pssst' sound when the paint is sprayed onto the wall are all taken from the real world, refined into motion and sound, and used as tools to implement the interaction.

This excellent clip demonstrates the interaction by means of video editing to simulate what will ultimately happen in reaction to the users' actions.

As a feasibility study, the group tried to use an accelerometer but discovered that this sensor can only express angles rather than actual motion. The best way to implement it will apparently be by means of a video camera and analysis of the images to identify the motions.

Although the clip presents ‘virtual graffiti' that works in accordance with the rules of the real world, a more interesting interaction would be one that breaks free of the rules and can execute things by means of motion that real graffiti can't.

Dana Mick, Doron Segal, Shay Merci, David Kantor

The second group focused on hand movements and body language as they are expressed in a dialogue, and how they can be given different expression that intensifies the conversation. The group presented a number of prototypes they created in order help them choose the most interesting form of expression.


Since the short films are a tool to aid selection, understanding, and improving the interaction, offering a variety of options is welcome and serves to expand the discussion. With the clips you can see the difference between different types of sound, the effect of a graphic addition to the conversation, and the fact that written words may not be the best graphic solution. Although the point of departure was hand movements when talking, perhaps rather than limiting the situation, interaction with all body movements should have been examined.

Jenny Bahar, Shmulik Mauda, Aviad Fux

The third group examined the connection between body, motion, and typography:

The short film provides a good illustration of the designers' intention in this interaction. As a feasibility study, one frame was taken from the clip and processed by a computer to create a silhouette. The designers then uploaded the silhouette as an optical character recognition (OCR) file and discovered that the silhouette was recognized as the letter they were aiming for.

Design Lab | Interactive Design | HIT

The most important part of the interaction will be to define how people use it. Will there be a legend to help people create the letters? Will special characters be implemented? What happens at the end of the word?

Dina Rubanovitch Even-Paz, Osher Shukrun, Shahar Yaacoby

The last group is interested in an interaction between man and an object that moves of its own accord. The interaction speaks to the connection created between random people and the object in a way that simulates the behaviors of people and pets. The object will attract random people to interact with it, respond to their actions, and arouse interest. The interaction was tested by means of a remote controlled car.

In unpredictable interactions of this kind it is important to have game rules. A random interaction will become performance art, because it ultimately takes place without the participation of people. The rules can either be clear or vague, but you can't do without them.

Inspirations and Examples

We begin the lesson with a tour of the Museum; first, with an explanation about the building itself, and then a guided tour of the new exhibition Decode. There are a great many interaction exhibits that touch upon the content of our course, including the series of interaction cubes designed by the Lab staff. All the exhibits stimulate discussion, and some even attract playing, operating, and fun.

Design Lab | Interactive Design | HIT

After the tour, Shachar Geiger, one of our two instructors, presents a project he designed together with Tal Avivi during their studies. ODRi - OmniDirectional Research Platform is a personal vehicle that facilitates soft, flowing, and adaptable movement in an urban environment. They drew inspiration for the project from the projects of the urban movement group at MIT Media Lab. It is a platform based on three omniwheel systems that together facilitate movement in any direction as well as around themselves.

The next example we discuss is Double-Taker (Snout). This adorable creature employs computerized vision technology and robotics to create interaction with people around it: the object selects a person who is walking toward it and directs itself toward them, thus creating a kind of continuous eye contact with expressive movement until the person enters the building.

Against a white wall Luka demonstrates an interactive application he created with Elad Ziv. The application adjusts the focus of a picture in accordance with the distance of the face from the screen. Try it at home.

The lesson ends with a talk by a guest lecturer. Industrial designer Yonatan Assouline presents an interaction project he created during his studies, A Pint of Light:

Pint of Light from Yonatan Assouline on Vimeo

The object was inspired by the metaphor that ascribes liquid qualities to light. It is a cup that can be filled with light from an existing light source, such as a flashlight or light fitting. The cup gradually fills up with light, and can be emptied as well. Yonatan speaks about the material and technological studies conducted to ensure the experience of using the object will be as similar as possible to the chosen story. We learn about the technical problems and their solutions. At the end of his talk, we receive the original cup and discover how accurate and exciting the interaction really is.

The design of the cup of light is unique in that there is no attempt to duplicate a regular cup; something new is created whose origins are obvious and consequently its use, yet there is no concealment of the technology or new essence of the object.

Next Week

The exercise continues into next week. We have to overcome the technological obstacles and turn the demonstration films into reality. So, webcams on your mark, algorithms get set, interaction designs go!

Written by David Kantor


- Introduction

- Lesson 1

- Lesson 2

- Lesson 3

- Lesson 4

- Lesson 5

- Lesson 6

- Lesson 7

- Lesson 8

- Lesson 9

- Lesson 10

- Lesson 11

- Lesson 12

- Final Lesson

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