Design Brief

Hangtime is an iPhone app that you play by throwing your phone into the air. MacSaber makes sound effects when you swing your laptop around. People convert broken computers into aquariums and cat beds, and they grow grass from keyboards. These projects – playful and in some cases destructive –invite users to consider the physical properties of electronic devices in new and surprising ways.

Electronic devices, particularly those with screens, are usually designed to foreground interactions with content. What happens when we bring attention to the device as a physical object, with its own potentials for interaction?

Choose an electronic device. This can be anything from a computer or phone, to a television or radio, to a gadget from the local toy store. Consider how it is used to communicate information, but also look at its physical design—its size and shape, materials and colors. Where is it usually located? Can you move it from place to place? How do the device’s physical properties affect how you interact with it?

Create a new way to interact with this object. You can modify the device itself, or you can build your own device using the object’s physical properties as inspiration. Focus on developing a clear interaction that creates a sense of surprise and encourages the user to see the device in a new way.

(photo by Mayo Nissen)