Next Nature Theme presentation

The presentation shown at the Next Nature Theme meeting today:

It was really good to hear the opinions of the coaches and students that work on other projects within the Next Nature Theme, as this project has no real research question or starting point for a direction other than the requirement to work with the Lumiblade OLED technology. Some of the feedback that I got:

  • What is the link between OLED and personal space/intimacy? Is OLED the only technology that can solve this? Would it not be easier or more logical to use other lighting technology? And continuing on this:
  • What are the advantages of OLED components? Is it possible to find an interesting direction from that?
  • Perhaps it would be good to start experimenting with the technology to find new and unexpected uses for it, and take it from there.
  • The associations and inspirational images in the video give a very upscale, expensive, nouveau-riche impression. Is this intended? Is this direction desirable and does it fit the concept? Be careful about what image you project to users.
  • What is the interaction between the technology and the user? In the video we see mostly ‘reactive’ installations. How can we influence the behaviour of the user? Keep this in mind while working on the concept.

It was very helpful to get this input, especially now that the project is still fresh and flexible. I can really work with these points and try to incorporate them into the design. I was very inspired by the whole meeting and am looking forward to starting experimenting with the OLED components. Hooking them up to an Arduino, experimenting with light intensity, generally getting a feel for the material. Until the components are in though, I want to do some paper modelling to experiment with folding structures, possibly making a cool stop-motion animation of some folding structures.

Parallel to that I am trying to contact and setup meetings with people who can give me insight in or point to papers about behaviour and needs of people working/interacting in public spaces; and about the influence of light intensity and light colour on the behaviour of people. One lead could be Philips Lighting where they did an interesting pilot with different colours of light in a primary school classroom. Hopefully I can gain some insight into the different needs that exist, and if there are any that would be ideal to solve by using OLEDs.

Some other cool stuff that I made a note of during the presentations:

Your ideas, comments, associations and reactions are more than welcome!

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OLED technology, inspiration and ideas

This project is about what the possibilities are for Philips Lumiblades, which are standardized OLED components. Philips has been working with OLED for a few years now, showing some interesting art projects and prototypes at the Milan Salone del Mobile.

The advantage of the OLED technology is that it is super thin, generates almost no heat  and provides a beautiful, intimate halo of soft light. An exiting new aspect in lighting is that this time the surface itself produces light, instead of  a luminary reflecting the light from a single  source. Although it might be possible to produce several different colours, the components that are available now only have basic primary colours.

One of the main objectives of Philips Lighting is “simply enhancing everyday life with light”. This a theme that appeals to me, because the everyday, the ordinary, the habits and daily behaviour of people is what interests me most in design. It has overlap with other disciplines like behavioural science, psychology, ecology.

So how do we enhance everyday life? What needs enhancing? In today’s world, we are confronted with an ever-increasing amount of technology and interaction. Set places and times to perform standard actions are fast becoming a thing of the past, being mixed up, set free, let loose. We are studying in the living room, having teleconferences in restaurants, we try to read when next to us a group has a brainstorm session. There is so much going on around us, how can we focus on the task at hand? Are we committed to a day full of multitasking, doing everything partially, and nothing properly? Is this what we want, or is it something we fight against?

To find out more about these kinds of situations, I asked a few people to tell me if they ever experience a situation where there were different people in a space that were involved in different activities from each other. It turned out that everyone can relate to this question, and a lot of examples were given. At the TU/e, this is a daily occurence. At the cafe, people are constantly discussing in groups, being over lunch or on a project, and there are also many people working on their own there. In the workspaces, people are chatting for pleasure, brainstorming together, meeting with their coaches, making phone calls. Another example is at home, when there are other people present they are eating, watching tv, conversing, making homework, etcetera. The days are long gone when the family all sat at the dinner table and related their days to each other in the evening. Before my time, anyway. The participants said that they tried to shut out the world around them, mostly by posture, focus or sound.

A third example is from my own experience. I give homework classes to high school children that have diagnosed learning problems, many of them in the autistic spectrum, ADD, dyslexia. They are all in the same classroom for a few hours, working on different subjects, some making exercises, some learning for tests. A couple of years ago, Philips did an interesting pilot where a primary school class room was lit with different coloured light during the day, to help children focus, relax, energize, and so on. The result was said to be very positive. Now, in the homework class, for instance when you would set the light to energetic, it might help the dyslexic student, but totally mess up the one with ADD. Set it to focus, and the ADD student has a benefit, while his autistic neighbour loses himself in tunnel vision.

What if we can make a personal space with light? It should be something we can carry with us, to use whenever needed. The OLED technology could work well with this, since it is so light and thin, and consumes little energy. Also its soft, friendly glow lends itself well for up close use. The challenges lie in designing the shape, colour and use of the product. A short movie starting with some examples of OLED component use, shows a number of inspirational shapes, materials and associations.