August 22, 2022No Comments

How will we live in the future?

Design of everything affects how we live now and how we will live in the future - it revolves around our society, city, lifestyles and personal preferences. In a world where technology is constantly evolving, it's hard to imagine what life will be like in the future. But the unknown shouldn’t stop us from wondering how we will live. We should go beyond thinking about what we want in the future, but try to understand what future generations would want in their world. We cannot rely solely on the systems that have sustained us for generations. Instead we should think of speculative futures, where we live in a world with technology and gadgets that don’t exist yet. (If you are interested in the future and speculative design, you should read Speculative Everything by  Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby )

As our society, city and lifestyles become more complex, the design of everything around us has to take these changes into account. Our personal preferences are also increasingly important in the way things are designed, whether it’s the clothes we wear, the cars we drive or the homes we live in. The future technology that serves our everyday needs cannot only be about comfort and efficiency. Designers will need to go above and beyond to think how technology can be responsive and create delightful experiences that make our life more enjoyable.

So whatever the future holds, one thing is certain: design will continue to play a vital role in our lives.

Questions about the future

Telemedicine scene from Hanna-Barbera’s 1962 animated sitcom, The Jetsons.
A telemedicine scene from Hanna-Barbera’s 1962 animated sitcom, The Jetsons.

More than 50 years ago, the Jetsons featured a telemedicine scene that we are so familiar with now. Back then, it was hard to imagine how their hospital visits could change so drastically. Similarly, future generations will live in a world far more different than we know of today. Questions we should ask ourselves include:

  1. How will our lives change, and what are the implications for our interactions with technology and the built environment?
  2. What types of technologies now will impact how we live in the future? And how will these affect the development of future technologies?
  3. Why do we need technology in the future? Will these reasons be different from why we need technology today?

As we think about what we want for our future, we should also try to understand what future generations would want in their world. How will they live? Will they have the same occupations and work schedules? What do they do for fun?

Thinking about speculative futures can help us break free from our dependency on possibly unsustainable systems. It can help us imagine different ways of living and being in the world. It can also help us create new systems that are more equitable, inclusive and just (If you are interested in Inclusive Design, check out our project with Microsoft).

Dive in:

  1. Future Work
  2. Future Living
  3. Future Mobility

November 14, 2007No Comments

#tbt Interactive Touch Screen with Z-Depth

Let's start off the conversation about interactive touch screen with z-depth. These experiments were from the INVIVIA blog from 2007. What was it like to design touch screens back then? And what exactly is Z-Depth?

Read the rest:

  1. Interactive Touch Screen with Z-Depth
  2. Curved Touch Screen
  3. Touch Screen + LED
  4. Touch Screen Instruments
  5. Touch Screen V5

July 16, 2007, Z-Depth Touch Screen // Ron

Here is a very crude, very quickly made partial demo of stereo on the touch screen. It will enable the hand to be tracked near the screen.( I didn’t have time to get the math right for this camera orientation so am not generating the right z-value which we can map to size, or whatever…)What you see here is that putting stereo cameras off axis behind the screen can generate hand position…


Nov 14, 2007, Z-Depth Touch Table Proposal

Recent INVIVIA brainstorms and discussions have pointed to the desirability of adding Z-Depth to the Touch Table idea. The least obtrusive way to do this would be to illuminate the hand from below the screen. It also uses stereo cameras situated there. I’ve made numerous tests of this approach using different screen materials and illuminator positions.

What I’ve learned is that the ideal screen material would be a great diffuser of the white projector light and yet be transparent to the IR light illuminating the hand and provide a clear view for the IR camera. I have not found such a material. What I find instead is that a terrific screen material is almost opaque to the IR source and IR camera, and a material that functions well for the IR camera is a terrible projector screen.

To illustrate the problem I used frosted mylar. The material that is the closest I could find to fulfilling both criteria: allowing the cameras to see through somewhat and still provide an adequate projector screen.

So, here’s what the camera saw, with the hand touching, looking at the underside of the frosted mylar illuminated by a couple of rows of IR LEDs (MS Surface works something like this, I assume)

Z-depth hand illumination

When the hand is slowly pulled away from the mylar (here at 1inch increments) the diffusion of the image (very good for the projection) blurs the hand so that at 4inches away it is no longer recognizable, not by human eyes and certainly not by a video camera.

Z-depth camera view

If all we needed was 2 inches of hand travel we could probably make a frosted mylar screen work.

Looking back at the Z-Depth stereo demo from last year is instructive. It shows that you need at least 8-10 inches of depth of movement in order not to severely constrain the user. (the cameras have the blue lights and are located above the screen)

Z-Depth demo

Here’s what the stereo cameras see:

Python hand follower stereo view

The Proposal:

Until we find the magical screen material which diffuses in white light and is transparent in IR, I propose that we adapt the approach I used successfully in the Hand Follower demo above to the Touch Table environment.

My idea is that we build (or at least think hard about building) a Z-Depth module that is simply a small wide angle USB video camera, a stacked and angled fan of IR LEDs, and a housing to protect them (and in this case hold the connector to get the signals into the table.)


Till next time!


October 16, 2007No Comments

#tbt Interactive Touch Screen Design

In 2007, when the first iPhone debuted, interactive touch screens were seen as a new and exciting way to interact with technology. All screen, no button- they were designed to be user-friendly and easy to use. Nowadays, touch screens is a staple for interactive technologies. But how did they get here? How were interactive touch screen designed and prototyped in 2007? We found some old INVIVIA blogs that documented the prototype process for Touch Screen design.

We found these blog posts interesting, and hope that you do too! Here's a little peak into various touch screen experiments we did in 2007:

  1. Z-Depth Touch Screen
  2. Curved Touch Screen
  3. Touch Screen + LED
  4. Touch Screen Instruments
  5. Touch Screen V5

Touch Screen LED

I thought you’d all like to see the first integrated screen and LED Guide working.

interactive touch screen

So, What's different from previous versions, you might ask?
– LED Guide, touch surface, video screen and backing sheet are now in one strong, reasonably nice looking frame
– LED orientation gives even light distribution across screen using only side arrays
– Heat dissipation into frame is reduced and now manageable.

What needs to be done next?
– Narrow beam LED circuits need to be made and tested. As it stands, I am 2 circuits short of filling the screen with light and found some narrow beam, very bright LEDs that should be tried… they will reduce spillover and may improve performance.

– Decide on housing shape (table, kiosk…convertible?) and build it (or whatever variations seem to make sense) so you guys can have a new toy to play with and we can begin to get some applications developed and running on it…

Here are some development process pix:

The AutoCAD cross section
interactive touch screen design prototype- mill work
Milling the slot to hold the touch surface…
prototype- mill work
just finished cutting the shelf that makes connection to next piece
prototype- mill work
the four pieces before cutting off clamp ends
prototype- LED work
partially assembled showing LED circuits.

cheers, ronmac (Oct 16, 2007)

If you liked this, see House Zero for some more interactive LED.

Till next time!

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