With a predicted 50 billion objects connected to the internet by the year 2020, how can designers exploit the affordances that physical objects allow? What new interactions, user experiences, and opportunities does designing connected physical objects allow over designing for computers and screens?
We're exploring this with our Reflector project, part of the Objects Sandbox process funded by the REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Economy. It’s fantastic to be working with University of Bristol archaeologists Mark Horton and Alex Bentley. Over the next 12 weeks we will create a physical object that will curate and display excavated historical artefacts outwith museums, allowing reflection and reactions not typical to the type of fast experience you might have in a museum.
We're researching what connected objects may mean for a collection of rare archaeological objects associated with the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These are objects that are so fragile, precious, and emotional that they are often displayed behind a piece of glass in a museum, or worse, boxed up in shelved storage somewhere. Seeing them in a museum, offers little chance to reflect on the object, reading the blurb, shuffling by, perhaps wondering what the story of the object is, or wondering how it was made or who carried it, and then shuffling on to the next display case.
What if these artefacts were instead curated by a physical object and displayed in your home or in a public space, presented to you every few days in a thought provoking format, allowing you to live with the object and reflect on it? What if there was built-in commentary, provoking curiosity and allowing you to react, reflect, comment or ask questions? Could these comments then enrich the experience of the next person to reflect on that artefact?
This is what we're hoping to explore over the next 12 weeks. Watch this space for further updates.