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| a house that daydreams and reconfigures itself….|

June 10, 2008

via Reconfigurable House

Imagine your house being able to reflect and to change the colour of your walls according to your mood. And if the House is left alone for too long, it gets bored, daydreams and reconfigures itself….

The Reconfigurable House is an environment constructed from thousands of low tech components that can be “rewired” by visitors. The project is a critique of ubiquitous computing “smart homes”, which are based on the idea that technology should be invisible to prevent DIY.

Smart homes actually aren’t very smart simply because they are pre-wired according to algorithms and decisions made by designers of the systems, rather than the people who occupy the houses.

In contrast to such homes, which are not able to adapt structurally over time, the many sensors and actuators of Reconfigurable House can be reconnected endlessly as people change their minds so that the House can take on completely new behaviour.

Some people may walk into the House and find that things are too noisy, too reactive, or maybe not reactive enough. Perhaps some people may prefer sound outputs, others may prefer lights. Still others may prefer the delicate feeling of mist. Each visitor will be able to use a simple interface to configure the reactions and interactions of the house in a completely different way. The “hardware” stays the same, but visitors completely transform the “software”! In this openness, the Reconfigurable House also demonstrates authentic interaction: where the system not only reacts to visitors, but, at a higher level, also changes the way that its reaction is computed.

The house consists of walls and devices that respond to sound, light, touch, footsteps, phone calls, mp3 players and even distant remotely connected spaces. Through elements like the Cat Brick Wall, Mist Laser garden, Monkey Corridor and Radio Penguin Ceiling, constructed from hacked low tech toys and gadgets, the house can be inexpensively recreated by even those who are not experts in electronics. This means that not only is the software of the House open, but the hardware is too.

The software used is constructed with Processing, and Arduino, an inexpensive micro-controller, controls the electronics. All code used on the project is open source. By using Arduino, Usman Haque is extending his research from the boundaries of the house to the entire world. Pachube is a web service available that enables people to tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices and spaces around the world. Pachube acts between environments to capture input data (from remote sensors) and serve output data (to remote actuators). Connections can be made between any two environments, facilitating even spontaneous or previously unplanned interactions.

Reconfigurable House 2.0, Interactive installation was built by Adam Somlai-Fischer, Ai Hasegawa, Barbara Jasinowicz, Bengt Sjölén, Gabor Papp, Tamás Szakál and Usman Haque.

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