At SMAU 2002

At SMAU 2002

Design gives shape to new smart objects

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Technology and design: Scuola Politecnica di Design and Microsoft present at SMAU 2002 the results of a research project on this topic carried out during the recently finished Master in Industrial Design. More than 20 SPD students from twelve different countries have worked on the idea of Personal Viewer, a new concept which radically changes our approach to computing tools.

It’s not just a smaller laptop or a more powerful handheld: Personal Viewer is an open window on the world, a smart object which improves our way of living, work, leisure, interpersonal relations. Inside the Microsoft stand – pavilion 22 – five of the projects created by the young designers are exhibited along with models produced by the school’s research centre and a publication looking at them in detail prefaced by Bill Gates. The selection of SMAU represents the content and spirit of research which each of the five works interprets in a personal way.

The work of Fanny Manderschied, the young engineer and designer from France, plays on the memory of everyday objects like the notebook or the pen with a rubber which writes and rubs out on both paper and screen. Le Cahier looks like a normal ring-bound notebook; the covers and the sheets on the inside contain the hardware, the screen, a writing pad and a keyboard. The tool can also be used as a classic desktop computer or a laptop. In this way the most advanced IT adapts itself to the user’s habits and culture.

For Sealine Yam and Romain Vollet, from France, technology is a daily luxury, to be put on and carried with you in every situation. eMove has been conceived for the new urban nomad generation, an emerging intellectual class which is constantly moving around and permanently network connected. eMove dresses technology with the most dynamic street style. A combination which turns out particularly successfully thanks also to the use of technological fabrics which integrate the main commands, naturally.

The key to the design by Luca Bresciani and Yuriko Kato from Japan lies in its modularity. Jigsaw is put together and taken apart like a puzzle. Its basic elements and its accessories can be set up in different ways according to the user’s needs – left or right-handed, for example. Jigsaw’s versatility is expressed above all in the domestic setting offering, as it does, various options for its use: as a wall TV, as a DVD reader or desktop computer by mounting the tablet on its transparent base cover. The tool’s soft lines highlight the ergonomic study that was carried out and confirm, on the form level as well, the puzzle metaphor chosen by the two designers.

For Dante Novelli and Jacinto Segui, from Spain, technology helps to make the world more accessible. Reality Translator, as the design is called, works as a real-virtual translator. Its removable screen captures images of objects or surrounding landscapes with a camera and reworks them, integrating them with data from networks. The design interprets the subject of personal viewing in a literal way. Its most immediate applications concern the area of disability, assisted driving and the professional area.

Michal Gherman, Fernanda Valenzuela and Janaina Santos, from Israel, Brazil and Venezuela, offer an only apparently visionary exercise on the idea of the flexible computer. Thanks to the plastic chips which will replace the current silicon ones, the Flex Viewer screen is deformable and can be rolled up like papyrus. Physical and functional flexibility go together: different FlexViewer strips can be connected together to give a deepened vision of up to 360°, very rewarding in gaming, for example. What’s more, you can even imagine an everyday electronics which is completely recyclable and careful of the environment.

Common background to the different designs in Personal Viewer is the humanistic vision of technology. IT makes all the tools and appliances we have at our disposal interactive by rationalizing our use of time and space. In parallel, the functional integration and miniaturization of the new devices reduces our impact on resource materials. Attention to these aspects allows us to imagine a future which is here now in which people, technologies and environment live together harmoniously. These topics have always been close to Microsoft’s sensitivity and that of Scuola Politecnica di Design: an association, born in June 2001, which will continue into 2002-2003 with project work co-ordinated by Piero Lissoni on the new electronic nomadism.

The projects presented within the Microsoft stand are competing for the Targa Bonetto SMAU Industrial Design prize. The winners will be announced on Saturday, 26 October.

For information

Rita Preatoni

Cinzia Pavesi

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