Enhancing and dissolving technologies at This Happened #5

This evening I visited again a very inspiring This Happened. Four talks with a perspective. This time in a new bigger location which could not prevent the event be sold out in one minute again.

I gave myself a kind of spell to distillate a not existing theme on every TH-night till now, so the organizing guys (Kars, Ianus and Alexander) were challenging me to do so again. It would be easy to add the label game play to this night, because all the talks connected to that more or less. But game principles are part of every good interaction, so that would be not fair and just confirmation of the quality of the designs.

But I can see some resemblance in the talks. Let’s first sum up what we have seen:

The evening started with the Paper Cakes game for a Wacom Tablet, made by Bas Teunisse en Lex van den Berg. I liked the idea of the game and the way they evolved it to what it became. A lot of user testing was key in their process, that was clear. And it delivered some good insights, for example the use of coffee stains to create a context of place.

The second talk before the break was from another duo. Stella Boess and Stefan Gross talk on their boxing sack ‘Love Hate Punch‘ with LED that creates whole different experience to the aggressive nature of boxing. That was an important starting point for them to move away from the usual softness of LED-use.
But even more remarkable I found the way they did the design of the whole sack. There seems no plan and no thinking ahead. After putting all the LED’s in the sack they thought on the way to connect them.
(Note: don’t forget to read the comments below)

After the break Govert de Vries showed us the process of designing Swinxs, the object to play outside games. Or in the end he was more explaining how a new innovative product can emerge: the less you know, the more you dare. It all started with an idea in the train from Utrecht to Eindhoven. I agree with one reaction after the talk that his story was refreshing in the subject of an commercial project. It is a great product and the little movies did showed how the product can be adapted by the players.

The last speaker was Daan Roosegaarde, an artist that creates installations I really love. I experienced many of his installations, from his Flow and Wind to the Dune and the Liquid Space 6.0 that what presented here. Daan had a very strong story on the way technology is part of our lives. He challenges us to use tech for enhancing our environment but not let it lead. His story was much stronger than a performance at a V2 night I saw him before. With his more philosophical thoughts he really delivers another level to the ‘how it happened ‘-adagium. For me surely the most interesting talk.

I think you can see that This Happened this time really touched the very interesting field where a mix emerges between real life and digital enhancements. All the talks did a different angle on that matter: from the virtual paper folding game where technology makes the paper into an intriguing endless game, to the boxing sack that translates our aggressive punches into an feel-able digital interaction. Where the Swinx makes an old-fashioned parlor game into a creative platform and where the Liquid Space of Studio Roosegaarde connect technology directly to the principles of evolution in nature.

I’m looking forward again to the next This Happened with surely another interesting angle in the field of interaction experiences. In the lovely new location, that suites the event very well although it maybe was less cosy. I’m sure the event will hold up to another 50% extra visitors that fits the theater.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

7 thoughts on “Enhancing and dissolving technologies at This Happened #5”

  1. Wonderful writeup. We’ll talk about the other 50% in our next meeting, it will mean a lot more running and not knowing your audience though. I think Stella and Stefan of Love Hate Punch fell into the trap of the casual introduction. Their work was actually quite planned and followed the process by the rules, yet there is so much handiwork involved and especially the electronics/interactive/programming part is the area where there was a plan, but no good way to approach it.

  2. Thanks Ianus. And thanks for the additional info on the process of Stella and Stefan. To be clear; I did not meant it as a negative review of their process, I found it a remarkable to notice however. Ieading it back I stated it a little bit severe maybe ;-)
    As always, the mix of approaches with the speakers is especially inspiring.

  3. Hi Iskander and Ianus,

    thanks Ianus for stepping in to defend us a bit there. Our process was planned, and tightly integrated, from the beginning of the seven months it took. It was my choice to show it as three thematic parts, and to tease out how the debugging nearly managed to drag it all down. But it seems some people thought we did each part after the other and separately. There are indeed pitfalls in a ten-minute presentation, like you say Ianus. Surely ‘This Happened’ isn’t supposed to be just about people boasting how well they did everything? Iskander, it would be nice if you could change the main text a little bit at least, because I doubt many people read as far as the comments. But of course, this is your place :-)

  4. Hi Stella,
    I regret you take it so seriously. I did not meant to doubt the way you work or the process at all. I found your work great and your presentation too. I just noticed that specific element during the presentation and that doesn’t change of course. Maybe I formulated it a little bolt in the nightly quick writing ;-)

    So you addition here is very valuable. I guess the readers do read the comments, that is a specific value of blogs. But I will encourage people extra in the main text.

  5. Hi Iskander, thanks for responding. And your otherwise great writeup! We are fairly experienced professionals (just not much in electronics) (yet:-)), so hearing “no plan and no thinking ahead” felt a bit tough. It taught me more about presenting. Please keep up the sharp observations! Looking forward to the next review.

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