Inflatable Interactions is an experimental tactile interface. The device inflates to get the user's attention and deflates to disappear into the background.
Team & Support
In collaboration with Natalie Kerres (Imperial College, London)
There has been a notable shift in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) towards ambient computing - the idea that an ideal interaction occurs seamlessly in the background. This design philosophy attempts to minimize the number of interactions that are required to complete a task, ideally reducing that number to zero by allowing the designed system to predict the wants and needs of the user.
However, some tasks will always require human intervention to complete. Inflatable interactions explores a novel way of moving a physical interface between the background and foreground. It calls attention to itself when required, and minimizes its presence when it isn't needed.
The Interface comprises a long, cylindrical balloon wrapped around the LED lamp diffuser, which inflates from one end to the other due to LaPlace’s Law. The user may then squeeze the now present interface to cause the LED light to change brightness briefly. In order to introduce an element of playfulness into the interaction, the Inflatable Interactions prototype was designed to flash when the user touches and then suddenly deflate after a random number of touches. The overall effect is to give the impression that light is “shy” or that it does not like to be touched.
The device is controlled by a seperate 'pump box' that is connected to the main body of the device electrically and pneumatically. The pump box contains solenoid valve, air pump, pressure sensor, doppler radar sense (human detection), and controller.