1000 is a collaboration with wearable computing designer Despina Papadopoulos to develop a device and a system that account for technologically-aware bodies in technologically-animated spaces. The project incorporates current and near-future technologies like RFID, GPS, smart dust and smart fabrics to explore the relationship of technology, social bodies and environments. The purpose of the project is to explore actual usage of non-precious technology while at the same time challenging established traits of ubiquitous computing approaches.
In the past 10 years we have witnessed a series of projects that explore the relationship between technology and space or technology and the body. Yet few, if any, have attempted to align the two approaches and investigate the technological body in a technological space. The project synthesizes these two tracks of exploration and develops a system where both the "social body" and "space" are participating in an interactive dialogue. By developing such a system we are hoping to unravel the intricate relationships that have developed between the "public" and "private", explore the role that technology can play in social interactions and investigate ways in which technology can participate in the social in a serendipitous manner.
We challenge some of the fundamental tenets of ubiquitous computing design and we dispute the notion that seamlessness and efficiency are always desirable traits. Seamlessness, which arises from making technology "disappear" into the fabric of our environments and devices, inevitably leads to a lack of awareness, control and privacy. Moreover, it is often the seams themselves that are most creatively engaging and allow for the possibility of the unexpected and serendipitous to occur. Similarly, systems that stress efficiency aim to maximise time and space-use and tend to diminish the possibility of day-dreaming and personal creativity.
The overall objective of the project is to develop a working prototype of both a "wearable" device and a spatially-oriented system with which it interacts. We are currently working on a series of short experiments that address both of these issues separately and act as stepping stones to the wider project. One of the principal aims of this project is to have it used/experienced by a large number (1000 +) of participants, and thus allow for an in-depth ethnographic analysis of the system as well as its potential for commercial application. We are working with technologies and protocols available now and in the near-future, such as RFID, GPS, smart dust, smart fabrics and human-data-networks.
At a time when we can build whatever we imagine, device, building or "experience" it is vital to consider the wider aesthetic, ethical and lyrical implications that this condition affords us. 1000 is a two-year project that engages directly with these issues; we are currently in the first period of experimentation. By conducting a series of short experiments we will be able both to examine continuously our premises and to collect material (observations, behavioural patterns, technology evaluation) that will feed into 1000 proper. 1000 is as much about observation as it is about design. As such, 1000 is about developing frameworks, not experiences.
While most research has adopted a predominantly utilitarian and pragmatic approach to the design of ubiquitous computing systems, it may prove to be a good risk mitigation strategy to explore a different direction.