Renewable Matter # 13 / November-December

Stereons and DVD Blenders

by Federico Pedrocchi

Let’s start with a stereon. No, it is not a spelling mistake. Take an iron and bring it to Elettroevoluzione (an engineering team based in Rome) and they transform it into a radio. But watch out: after such transformation, by observing the object, before your very eyes all you can see is just a traditional iron. No external detail has changed and this is a hard and fast rule of electroevolutionists strongly characterized by culture and design. They choose objects that over time have influenced the world of design (so as a matter of fact you don’t bring them any old electrical appliance). The great make Braun is widely used in their projects. A toaster becomes a radio, but only when you press the button to get the toast out a small amplifier will appear. There is also a frying plate that becomes a turntable and a blender that turns into a DVD player.

A theoretical consideration: maybe one aspect of project development though reusing should bear in mind that an external shell has its own importance. I know a numerically significant community asking itself: “Why can’t we have a beautiful Volkswagen Beetle with a hybrid or fully electric engine?” A smaller community asks the same question about a 1970s Morris 1000 with a wonderful bodywork, a sort of Goofy’s car. There are countless examples. Then I know that people start to say that the original must preserve its integrity, so I will stop right here.

But it is a completely different story when it’s all in the head. AT Media, an Alessandria-based software house, has come up with an algorithm acting on a tablet’s or computer’s web camera and that can be used in any website. When fully developed, the idea is very easy to describe – you sit in front of a screen offering a museum visit, as soon as you slightly move your head forward you start to walk from one room to another. By turning your head to the left, you see objects displayed on the left, and the same if you turn right or move your head down to admire a Roman mosaic floor. No mouse, no keys. Obviously, it can be used for any exploration offered, not only in museums.

So the search for new revolutionary man-machine interfaces is rapidly developing. They all point towards an ambitious objective: by adding voice controls and hand movements, all computer’s functions can be used. According to experts, there are no basic obstacles. 

Very good. And what about the digital divide? Could digital natives become an endangered species? Will traditional equipment need to be made in order for them to be able to express themselves? One thing is for sure: the current knowhow on computer fiddling is almost useless when it comes to solving problems and snags deriving from the overall chaotic complexity of the interface. If driving a car required the same level of competence, the global turnover of this sector would equal that of date trade. 



AT Media,