Kinetic Wave

raising awareness of the electromagnetic communication

What if

movements could be utilized to raise awareness of the electromagnetic communication surrounding us

introduction

Read Time ~ 3 min
2 months
4 Person Project
Interaction Design
Internet of Things

My Role

My main role in the group work was to exploring ideas and conceptualizing Kinetic Wave. I also helped with constructing and assembling the prototype, however, I did not take part in programming Kinetic Wave. Furthermore, I was also responsible for designing our poster for the TEI'14 Conference (the 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction).

Motivation

We live in an omnipresent sea of electronic information - not only in terms of information available locally on our devices, but also in terms of the information emitted from them.

None of our senses, however, are capable of detecting electromagnetic communication and as a result, we are often not aware of the extent of wireless communication surrounding us. It is beyond our senses.

Concept

Kinetic Wave is a shape-changing design with embedded lights. The design reacts to the radio waves emitted by personal devices like smartphones and tablets, causing the body of rings to reposition vertically in wave formations.

The aim of the project was to raise awareness of the electromagnetic spectrum in people's surrounding space since none of our senses are to detect radio waves.

The process

We initially started out by creating a mood-board and sketching ideas down on paper with the aim to explore how motion could communicate the amount of radio waves in the nearby space. Although, sketching on paper was enough to generate ideas, it also had its limitation in regarding to further explore motions.

We quickly realized that it was better to generate and convey ideas by rapidly creating physical low-fidelity prototypes. This gave us a better sense of how movement would be perceived by the user. It allowed us to rapidly explore the various kinds of solutions. But most importantly, it allowed us to use the prototypes as platform for discussion and drive our decisions.

Exploring Wave Motions

Our first low-fidelity prototype consisted of rings in various sizes. Here, we explored the "windblind" motion by attaching a string to the bottom ring that could pull the body of rings together. 
However, this didn't give association to towards radio waves. Instead, we explored a different motion by swaying the top ring, attempting to create a vertical sinus wave motion along the body of rings, however the wave motion was hardly perceivable.

Experimenting with Light

We also experimented with different lights and materials in order to explore how it could be experienced. In particular, we were aiming at a mythical or even a sci-fi like experience by making the light defuse in the rings.

The TEI Conference

Our installation was accepted into the TEi conference in Munich. This was also an opportunity for a lot of people to experience the installation and getting reactions on the installation. For example, one of the attendees at the conference responded that it looked like a flying hologram and she asked herself "how did they make that?".

However, it seems difficult for most people to interpret the message exactly as we intended. But once we explained the purpose of the installation, the message seem to connect with them.

Initiated by Aarhus University

Sponsered by VMWare

Accepted into the 8th TEI Conference