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Introducing Legible Landscapes

About this project Who we are Our previous work What to expect The research materials The consent form

About the project


Legible Landscapes focuses on environmental awareness in the home. We will build systems that use sensors to reveal environmentally relevant attributes of the domestic environment. However, unlike many existing technology systems for increasing environmental awareness the Legible Landscapes projects aims to be more open ended in how people use and interpret the designed systems. Carbon footprint monitors and electricity meters are extremely If you have any questions about our project please contact us at: Interaction Research Studio info@legiblelandscapes.org T: 0207 779 168 516 valuable for improving sustainability, but our focus is on supporting more poetic readings of the home. We wonder if such readings can encourage interesting, complex or simply different reflections on the relationships between home, technology, and the environment.

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Who we are
The Interaction Research Studio is a small team of people with backgrounds in Design, Social Sciences, Arts and Technology. Weve been a studio since 1995 and are based in the Design Department at Goldsmiths University of London. 1. The Drift Table is an electronic coffee table that allows people We do research through design in the area of computational devices for everyday life. That is, we make things and let people try them, not to develop commercial products, but to learn both about people and new possibilities for technologies. The audience for our work includes academic and industrial researchers, designers and the general public. We reach them through publications, exhibitions, lectures, the internet and press coverage. Our funding comes from UK and EU research councils as well as industry projects. On the next page you read about examples of our recent projects indicative of the kinds of systems we make and participants reactions to them.... to float over the British landscape from the comfort of their own home. The table has a circular porthole on its top revealing aerial photography that drifts according to the distribution of weight on the table. Adding weight causes the table to speed up and descend towards the landscape below. Progress is slow travelling from London to Devon may take days. Steve lived with the Drift Table for a number of months and reported the kinds of uses he put it to. For instance, in the morning he might choose a new destination: perhaps a past vacation spot, or somewhere hed always meant to visit. Throughout the day, while working at home, Steve would check on the progress of travel, often consulting an atlas to determine his whereabouts and change course accordingly. As the day ended, he and his flatmates would gather around the Drift Table to explore their selected port of call.

Our previous work

2. The Local Barometer is a family of small, brightly colored devices that display text and images scraped from an online classified site (Loot.com) based on a homes locality and local wind conditions. Ads are selected from areas that are upwind from the home, and the harder the wind blows, the greater the distance from which they might have travelled. The idea behind the Local Barometer was to provide people with a new sense of the sociocultural texture nearby their home. Ray lived with the Local Barometer for about a month. He said that ads from one direction commonly featured expensive houses and cars. When the wind blew from another direction, dangerous dogs, run-down automobiles and flashy jewellery were more likely to appear. Moreover, living with the device seemed to develop his awareness of and appreciation for the microclimate nearby the home.

3. The Prayer Companion is a device we developed as a resource for the spiritual activity of a group of cloistered nuns in northern England. The device displays a stream of information sourced from RSS news feeds interleaved with excerpts of text from social networking sites to suggest possible topics for prayers. As we developed the Prayer Companion, the nuns made it clear that if it intruded on their enclosure they would ask us to remove it. From the moment we installed it, however, they accepted it as aesthetically and functionally appropriate for the monastery. Better, they told us that it had inspired their prayers on innumerable occasions. Our discussions about how they viewed various kinds of content the device displayed gave us great insight into their spiritual activities. The device is still in the monastery, about two and a half years after it was first installed.

What to expect
May June August/ September Introductory meeting Distribute research kit You return research materials to us Prototype devices are distributed, with visits to your home; your own reports/ documentaries/other independent commentaries November Trial ends You will receive a Research Kit to begin exploring the home environment. The materials will introduce the kind of reflective activities encouraged throughout the project. The research kit contains a number of playful and reflective probes that are open to interpretation. You can engage with as many or as few as they like spending as much or as little time as desired. There are no right or wrong answers. The materials are not scientific, psychological, or creativity tests but are instead reflective ways to think about and express ideas of the home as a microclimate.

The research kit

Q: What are you going to make? A: Its a surprise. Q: Will there be more than one device? A: Yes. Q: Are they bigger than a breadbox? A: No. Q: Will they need to be plugged in? A: Yes, but they will have batteries too.

The consent form


We are extremely grateful to our participants for their time and effort and for their willingness to share personal stories and insights. In return we take very seriously the ethical issues around using the material you give us. We anticipate using a variety of means to understand your experiences with the things we build. For instance, ethnographers may ask to visit your homes to observe how you use the designs and talk with you about them. We may hire cultural commentators such as filmmakers to help docuAs an example, one of the activities contains a folded note card with a picture of a clock face on the front and the directions: Write a note to the last appliance you used. This note could be a thank you, a rant, a love letter, a memo, an obituary, a greeting, or whatever form and tone desired. These are the kinds of activities encountered in the research kit. Each one has instructions but each one is also purposefully open ended to leave latitude for different kinds of responses. When completed, the materials will fit back into the packet with the self-addressed label and postage affixed to the front. The entire packet will fit into a standard letterbox. We ask that the packets be returned within 3- 4 weeks of receiving them. ment your experiences. We expect to provide various means for you to report directly to us, in writing, or using photographs or other media of your choice. We draw on these observations and reports from participants for both internal reviews and external presentations about our research. Our standard practice is only to identify participants with first names or pseudonyms and never to reveal identifiable information such as an address. All participation in the project is completely voluntary we will respect the boundaries you identify. If you agree to participate in the project, we need you to read and complete a detailed consent form identifying what information we will collect and how we will use this information throughout the Legible Landscapes project. If at any time you want to change or withdraw consent we will work accordingly.

The Interaction Research Studio

Making the Prayer Companion The Prayer Companion

The Drift Table

The Local Barometer

The Prayer Companion

www.legiblelandscapes.org