Usable Witchery – Venice

Usable Witchery
The modern world as our current surrounding is filled with artifacts, man made objects and environments. From door knobs to “aquatic” operation-systems, we are immersed in interfaces. A door handle provides a simple interface to operate a door, while a sophisticated array of menus and windows provides a complex interface to manage computer programs and files. Still, many interfaces are lacking usability or the intuitiveness of basic human interactions. Relaying on solving necessities, and creating a whole new experience, these fall in danger of denying the user from his or her natural intuitions, thus becoming less “user-friendly”. Not rushing the creation of new artifacts and new interfaces, it might be wise to rethink, redesign and improve on previous existing elements – taking in mind the user, and putting the user’s already inherent tendencies at the center of attention for this process. Shifting the paradigm may be achieved by mixing design, technology and cognitive-science, combined with studies and observations of user-experience and experiential usability. The following course attempts to address the way designers and artists, engineers and technologists, work together, and to propose a unified “creation” unit, as we reevaluate design flaws, towards making products less a result of technical thinking, and more “humanized”, natural and intuitive;

The Setup

Usable Witchery Intro Lecture (what is interaction design, Projects demo, course brief)
Mini set
The value of objects and documentations
On the first day, as a setup for this course, students where asked to plan and sketch different layouts and ideas, that would provide a simple to build, zero cost Photography mini-set. Regardless of the educational value of this task, in relation to process and planning, we also achieved for portable, solid background photography mini-sets to be used to document future elements and object made in the following course steps.
Students learned to communicate and document an object’s behavior using modern internet based communication platforms; the students prepare and published their documentation materials in real time.

Setting a photography mini-set and sketches — Click to view in details.

Creative Commons and friends
A short presentation regarding copyrights, Protocols and lawsuits, business / work related agreements, and creative commons. Students where encouraged to protect their work with online copyright agreements such as the last.

Witchery & Magic

Witchery and Magic / Photo by Nicola Plaisant
The art of “performance” – how critical a smooth and faultless presentation is, in the field of interaction-design, such as by becoming familiarized with the “ever-practicing” methods of the sleight-of-hand tricks, introduced as a Zen example of user-observations and iteration of refinements.

Peeking – looking at the trick behind the magic. Getting acquainted with sleight-of-hand. Examining illusions and points-of-view.
Implementations of magic-trick methods in the design process, concentrating mostly on the presentation from the user’s point-of-view.

More about magic tricks and Videos — Click to view in details.

Animatronics — humanization of machines

Electrical motors vs. pneumatics
Human muscles govern our movement and perform actions. As we examining movements of electrical-motors, we plainly realize how these movements are very accurate and linear, while on the other side, examining Pneumatics (the use of air muscles) reveals a slower, inaccurate, “exponential” or “hyperbolic” kind of motion, meaning movement in different “curves” of change, which by that makes it closer to human gestures.
Building a mechanical human organ using animatronics techniques and controlling it, all with simple low-tech materials.

Animatronics Hand — Click to view in details.

Servo Motors and Wiring Board

Can we build a pneumatic / servo unit and manage a viable connection to animatronic devices? Can a pneumatic apparatus work together with Animatronic mechanisms? We will consider the utilization of sensors and actuators for cooperation such as this.

Emphasizing dynamic-design – the method or testing, analyzing feedback and reevaluating the product as part of developing it.
The scientific approach, problem solving
A set of experiments in kinetics, for dealing with problem-solving, mechanics, and processes in terms of planning, sketching and micro-testing

Animatronics Hand — Click to view in details.


Francesco FraioliMarco_ZIvan_ProvenzaleMarina_CamaraMonica ZambolinTeddy ZacchiniMaria Chiara ToncichGabriele RivoliNicola PlaisantMartina PaguraAlice LucchinAlberto GranaiolaLuca De RossoClaudia De AngelisGiuseppe CosmaiAndrea ColletDavide CocchiLorenzo CercellettaEnrico AusielloLaura Bordin
Gillian Crampton Smith , Phillip Tabor

Marina Andrade Câmara,Enrico Ausiello,Laura Bordin,Lorenzo Cercelletta,Davide Cocchi,Andrea Collet,Benito Condemi de Felice,Giuseppe Cosmai,Francesca Cremonese,Claudia De Angelis,Luca De Rosso,Alberto Granaiola,Alice Lucchin,Martina Pagura,Nicola Plaisant,Ivan Provenzale,Gabriele Rivoli,Chiara Toncich,Teddy Zacchini,Monica Zambolin,Marco Zamarato.

Philip Tabor,Gillian Crampton Smith,Yaniv Steiner

Editor: Saar Shai

Mega Picture Pool – Click here

One comment

  1. tanntraad · January 18, 2008

    Hi everyone!
    I was amazed to see that my humble project could be used in such a great workshop! You have managed to show that simple materials can be used to make far more complex animatronic devices. Your documentation of the workshop was exellent and I just love all the videos and photos! I hope you’ve had just as much fun as I have!

    Best regards from Norway
    tanntraad -Bard Lund Johansen