Where New Developments in Interactive Technologies Might Take Us

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“When the World Talks Back ...”

Many of us have experienced that. And not in a spooky sci-fi way, but in a 21st-century technology way.

Over the past 10 to 15 years the evolution of smart, sensor-based products and systems has reshaped the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

This evolution will be discussed in a College of Design Research Forum on Thursday, September 27. The title of that form is, "When the World Talks Back … Connecting People and Things."

Sensor technology enables us to tap all kinds technologies and allows us to connect to things we have not been able to connect to before, in ways not previously possible, explained Jim Budd, chair and professor in the School of Industrial Design.

With sensors of the late 1900s and early 2000s, interactive products could take an action and respond to it.

Later, researchers realized they could attach micro-processors to sensors to collect data and could share that data, Budd said.

For years, sensors have turned on lights and opened doors for us. But now we have begun to realize even more possibilities, he said.

For example, a sensor on a door or building can let the us know who comes into the building and know when they leave, and then could share that knowledge. If that building knows who you are, it could even greet you!

Researchers realized we could incorporate these technologies into our homes. Now we wire our homes with technologies that can inform us of the weather outside to lighting levels.

Your house, connected to your smartphone, could tell you when someone comes to your home. Then you could communicate with the house, let it know what to tell that person, maybe even have a dialogue.

Some of these things are already happening. Budd said we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg. We are about 20 years into this use of interactive technology.

One of the biggest technological changes over the past 10-15 years, he said, has been the cell phone. Initially it was a device designed for talking.

Now, we use cell phones to gather information, communicate, hail rides, pay for food, and more. And if we ask a question, it can answer!

Interactive Technology in the College of Design

As a community, we recognize that things that we were once only able to dream about can actually happen, he said.

Budd, who is organizing the forum, said the discussion will compare a snapshot from the past with new initiatives today that connect us with the products around us, the buildings we inhabit, and the cars we drive, along with speculation of where we might be headed tomorrow.

He will lead off with a history of where we came from and others talk about their work.

This forum is also a reflection of collaboration across disciplines in the College. Participants cross two school and a research center: School of Architecture, School of Industrial Design, and the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization.

Joining Budd at the forum will be Noah Posner, a research scientist in the IMAGINE Lab in the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization; Stuart Romm, a professor of practice in the School of Architecture; and Wei Wang, an assistant professor in the School of Industrial Design.

Posner said his current work focuses “on creating interactive experiences that leverage physical interaction. Past work includes creating an interactive sandbox for visualizing gorilla location data in Rwanda and data collection devices for capturing street view style panoramas. He also is designing physical interfaces for spatial VR experiences, and involved in teaching physical prototyping to MS-HCI students. For the research forum, he will talk about how we prototype connections. He also will discuss methods of prototyping, how technology gets integrated into product prototypes, different hardware prototyping platforms, and how this translates into a course.

Romm said as a topic, “When the World Talks Back… Connecting People and Things,” is one “that increasingly challenges designers to explore how new environments will intersect the physical + digital worlds.” He will talk about an ongoing case study on how the interdisciplinary collaboration between architects, industrial designers, and experience designers are innovating spaces that integrate the physical and virtual realms. One example is the use of interactive technologies in the transformation of Georgia Tech’s historic main library into a 21st Century Research Library for the digital age. 

Wang said we can anticipate that autonomous vehicles will have an impact on accelerating the transformation of automotive products into a transportation service. From the key criteria of human-computer interaction, Wang said he will talk about how to connect people and things in future autonomous driving through interactive technologies. He will also share some examples from experimental student project to sponsored research projects.

About the Research Forums

The College of Design Research Forums allow the College community and our friends across the campus to experience the design- and technology-focused research at Georgia Tech. From music technology to product design; from assistive technology to healthcare; from architecture to city planning, we explore the many ways technology can solve critical problems for the way we live.

The next research forum is scheduled for Thursday, November 8, in the Caddell Flex Space.

The title is, "Community Redevelopment in the Global South." This forum will explore ongoing projects designed to enhance the well-being of residents in the Global South in the face of its rapid growth and redevelopment.

Michael Elliott, an associate professor in the School of City and Regional Planning, will lead that discussion.

The forums take place from 11a-12p. All forums going forward will be in the Caddell Flex Space.


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