The Internet offers an incredibly rich and diverse range of data, content and services, but the interactions employed to access and engage with these are remarkably narrow and, more-often-than-not, rectangular.
The ubiquitous rectangular screen, and more lately the pocket-sized rectangular touch-screen are the default mechanism by which people connect to the Internet. Computer, tablet and smart phone screens have become windows to the internet, encouraging people to engage with primarily visual content, delivering, what is ultimately, a reductive internet experience.
In response to this situation, Uniform has been working closely with designers, scientists, academics and communities to develop and explore the concept of Physical Apps. These are objects that connect to the Internet to perform dedicated tasks enabling users to access information or services without using a standard computer interface like a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen. Physical Apps are forerunners to a maximalist internet, where people will pick and choose the kind of interactions they want to have with data, services and each other and the objects that will deliver this.
Sweet Tweet was Uniform’s earliest exploration of this concept, a Physical App that connected Uniform’s studio space to its Twitter followers and vice versa. It resembled a large cuckoo clock but rather than represent time the dial indicated the number of Twitter followers. Each time Uniform received a new follower, the hand moved, a pair of doors were pushed open by a whistling toy train and a gum-ball was dispensed down a paper rollercoaster creating a shared glanceable and aural alert to cheer the spirits of the Uniform team. Each new follower was rewarded by being sent a personal tweet of thanks with a link to a film of the gumball’s progress.
The project gained considerable international media interest and led to a 100% increase in Uniform’s Twitter followers.