project title link to models

What are the relationships between digital media and tactile objects and spaces?

How can the design of systems grow beyond consumption and sensation, and move towards productive meaning generation?

What are the relationships between the utilitarian and the poetic?

What are the implications of pervasive computation and communications, and how can people best use, interact, customize and integrate a new medium?


Fall 2007 Hannah Regier (’07), Switch Critters
Switch Critters are physically animated interactive objects that, when played with, can be persuaded to perform specific everyday tasks such as turning on lights and starting the car. Their behaviors are influenced by data flows, such as the quality of local air, the load on the power grid and the global carbon index. Data becomes mood, designed into personality. Switch Critters know something about the world that people can absorb through observation, interaction, and a little bit of imagination.


Fall 2007 Charles Lu (’07), Interactive Clouds, thesis exploration
Imagine there are clouds hovering in your house, in the hallway of your daily environment, in your school or office. The inside of the clouds provide a personal space that allows you and members of your community to share your ideas and imaginings.

sebastian bettencourt

Summer 2007 Sebastian Bettencourt (’07) Beyond the Fold
Beyond the Fold is a speculative design for the electronic newspaper of the future, inspired by the affordances of e-paper and the gestures associated with reading traditional newspapers. Bettencourt's graduate thesis project uses the physical manipulation of the e-paper to move the reader through digital content that can be accessed wirelessly. The simple gesture of turning the page to reveal the other side... or shaking the paper to affect live information, are some of the basic interactions that were defined.

alavs 2.0

Fall 2006 Jed Berk (’06) ALAVs 2.0
Jed Berk created the first version of the ALAVs in the NET class, and has continued to develop and show them around the world. ALAVs 2.0 are networked objects that communicate the concept of connectivity among people, objects, and the environment and were first shown as part of Jed’s final thesis presentation in the MDP. Through the use of mobile technologies people can influence the behavior of the ALAVs by starting conversations and building closer relationships with them. ALAVs 2.0 reflects upon the current state of connectivity in our everyday lives. The potential of ALAVs 2.0 lies in its ability to captivate a wide audience and communicate the idea of people cohabiting a shared space with networked objects.

mitter music

Fall 2006 Nikhil Mitter (’06), Object-Based Browsing
Nikhil Mitter’s thesis exploration was a response to the increasing availability and complexity of information sources. His speculative design approach led to the creation of tangible interfaces for navigating online content using forms that can be can be held, constructed, and re-arranged in physical space. Digital information is translated into simple three-dimensional objects whose modular construction generates parallel virtual connections. Users navigate through online material and discover new content and perspectives by building physical objects.

Speculative Music Browser
The Speculative Music Browser creates a unique listening experience using songs gathered from mp3 music blogs. Sculptural objects represent music categories and algorithms that are manipulated through interactive play. The resulting formation generates an aggregation of songs that are gathered in a browser and played. The project is a formal response to new music infrastructures—a model that uses hand manipulation (object-based browsing) to generate associative links between bands, songs, and music bloggers.

mitter news

Speculative News Browser
In our current global information environment we have the ability to access culturally sensitive news from all around the world and to move beyond provincial biases. Emerging object-based technology can inspire innovative entry points and means for discovery within this overwhelming virtual space. By attaching pieces together and constructing a model whose physical connections symbolize associative virtual links, a series of articles are launched in tabs on a browser, generating a set of articles whose connections might have been missed otherwise.

alavs 1.0

Fall 2005 Jed Berk (’06) and Nikhil Mitter (’06), ALAVs 1.0, Autonomous Light Air Vehicles
The ALAVs demonstrate how networked intelligence can be brought to life in a form that is animated, whimsical, and poetic. The original ALAVs were designed by the Hacker Group in the New Ecology of Things Studio. The three flying blimps exist in a networked environment and communicate through assigned behaviors: ALAV with a person, ALAV with other ALAVs, and ALAV alone. Acting autonomously in response to their surroundings and each other, the ALAVs are in a continual search for activity, either flocking or feeding. The ALAVs call out to one another, “dance” in sync, and “feed” from a hand-held “feeder.”

mcbride telepath

Fall 2005 Matthew McBride (’05) Telepath
Mathew McBride’s thesis, “Telepath: Way-finding in the New Urban Ecology” examines the intersection of digital collective memory, locative technology and urbanism as it transforms the Human Computer Interface into a Human Environmental Interface. A Telepath augments the act of looking through computing, making the invisible digital world visible and providing relevant information to a user for specific physical contexts. In addition to acting as a “seeing machine,” Telepath allows individuals to save, collect, organize, and share digital information they encounter in the physical world.