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Pour Reception – Water as a digital (material) interface

Created by Tore Knudsen, Simone Okholm Hansen and Victor Permild, ‘Pour Reception’ is a playful radio that uses machine learning and tangible computing to challenge our cultural understanding of what an interface is and can be. Two glasses of water are turned into a digital material for the user to explore and appropriate.

“The design materials that we have available when designing digital artifacts expands along with the technological development, and with the computational machinery it is possible to augment our physical world in ways that challenges our perceptions of the objects we interact with. In this project, we aim to change the users perception of what a glass is – both cultural and technical.”

The Pour Reception radio has internal speakers, an AUX input, a small guide, and an interface of two glasses resting on a smooth surface. When adding water to one or both glasses, the radio turns on and invites the user to explore the interface that controls the familiar functionalities of a radio. A playful attitude and a puzzle inspired approach is almost required to create a new mental model for how the glasses functions as an interface. Instead of operating with dials and buttons, as one would do with a traditional radio, Pour Reception is operated by interacting with the glasses. Changing channel is achieved by pouring water from one glass to the other. Fine-tuning the channel, to filter off distortion and noise, is done by touching and grabbing a glass containing water. Finally, touching the water in the glass lets the user affects the volume of the radio.

The team have used the Tact library by NANDStudio alongside Arduino to create a capacitive sensor which is capable of making readings with rich details. Using these data readings together with Wekinator, it was possible to classify various gestures when interacting with the glasses, and furthermore, map those gestures into commands for controlling the radio. In addition, the sensor can operate through non-conductive materials (such as glass, wood, and acrylic) to create a “chain of sensors”,  which allows them to hide the first link in the chain (aluminium plates) under the second layer (acrylic) and create an experience of soly interacting with the last chain (the glasses of water). Processing was used to do the communication between Arduino and Wekinator.

Project Page  | Tore Knudsen

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