Tangible Lightscapes

The aim of my exploration was to design a vocabulary of light behaviours that shows people what their devices are doing. This vocabulary is described in a map of light behaviours and gestures that can be applied to a wide range of contexts where devices (speakers, headphones, memory storage devices, cameras, laptops…) are communicating wirelessly. Today, connecting wireless devices is inconvenient: you have to go through interfaces that do not relate to the physical arrangement of the objects. It can also be difficult to understand which devices are connected and what they are communicating.

My “device language” gives a concrete representation of the intangible and invisible events that are taking place. It allows users to feel more in control by providing them with a direct interaction with the objects they are using.

The map has a three-dimensional representation in a set of light cubes. The cube shows 2 different light feedbacks:

1. The Connection Light shows if the objects are connected and communicating with each other. The light intensity is proportional to the signal strength. The light blinks when the connection is lost. The connection light shows continuous communication.

2. The Control Light pulses if the networked objects are exchanging data. The sender and receiver are indicated through colour. The light turns solid when the transfer is complete and displays an error if something goes wrong. The control light shows discrete communication.

The cubes also demonstrate the use of gesture in wireless devices. To make a connection, the user touches two cubes to each other.

The light cubes are tools for an ongoing research on people’s reaction to different light behaviours. The purpose is to discover the most intuitive match between the light’s activity and the meaning we want to deliver. The aim of my research is also to raise the attention given to light interfaces: light can be a core feedback tool, using peripheral attention to avoid information overload. Well designed device-device communication can lead to more intuitive user-device interaction.

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