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Every year in Paris, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and the APCI (Agency for the Promotion of Industrial Creation - whose mission is to ensure the promotion of design as a key component of economic, social and cultural innovation, the quality of life and the respect of the environment) are gathering the most innovative design achievements in an exhibition named "L’Observeur du Design" (The Design Observer).
Some productions are being granted a label (the "international competition" by the ICSID - International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) some of them have been awarded "stars" for most outstanding business gatherings/designers. On the occasion this 12th Observeur du Design, it is easy to note that there are numerous items bearing the seal of technological innovations in digital creation. Next to unpuncturable bike tires, office seats with adjustable motion, electric pallet trucks or articulated supermarket trolleys, a growing number of products can be found whose lines and features are indeed very digitally inclined. Mobile phones, digital photography and its derivatives such as digital photo frames, multimedia boxes such as the Set Top Box or digital pads, interfaces, applications and browsing systems for transport users, future digital home automation components (intelligent heating) or interactive furniture are predominantly showcased here. Anne-Marie Boutin, President of the APCI, specifies:
The part of digital products and services is increasing every year, not only from a quantitative point of view, but through the quality and original approach of the projects.
A number of unique productions thus stand out. She continues: This year, the digital design award has been granted to the DIA digital photo frame (developed by No. Design for Parrot). This interfaceobject, that so characterizes the French top of the range quality, is a particularly original reflection on screens. Its analogy to the slide summons a powerful imagination, which echoes the origins of the screening method, i.e. the magic lantern. Another prize-winning project, which demonstrates the expertise developed by French agencies is the Multi-touch Hypervisor (developed by Attoma for Thales Security & Services).
This project shows the remarkable potential of multi-touch screens in the context of space supervision and safety. Attoma has developed a very innovative approach of the interface, which operates on a multi-screens device. Finally, the Tensiomètre Withings (developed by Elium Studio design) illustrates how connected objects are investing our daily lives. Medical devices and health services can often be intimidating, but this tensiometer has managed, in a very appropriate manner, to make them more human and more accessible. Other creations reveal more playful or subtle interconnections.
The Giveme5 interface, (developed by the fivefive company) intends to go beyond 2D touch screens in order to interact and communicate on the Internet. It comes in the shape of an interactive circular “pebble” which generates light effects when the user rubs his fingers on it, thus inducing a “soft” relationship between gesture and light, around the functionality of a new communicating object.
The Microtiles are display tiles equipped with the increasingly popular LED technology. They can be assembled in various ways, creating versatile video screens in all shapes and sizes. As an interactive plant (developed by the designers Jakob + MacFarlane), Matéo is still in a prototype but its digital foliage diffusing sounds and lights responding to the outdoor climate changes and the energy gathered during the day is forecasting a furniture dedicated to human comfort. Finally, in a take on home automation directly linked to the habitat, the Cubes (developed by Orange Labs and the engineer Catherine Ramus) reflect a purer physical connection between their fun and simple Rubik's Cube format and the variety of their uses (Green for home power consumption, Memory to access multimedia content, Box for internet distribution, etc.).
However, despite their significant breakthrough, the idea of L’Observeur du Design is to integrate these digital creations into a global, wider and public-orientated offer. This is notably illustrated by the Métrothérapie project, by Annabelle Eugenia, (still looking for a producer), which offers real light-therapy sessions in the Metro by integrating lamps of variable colours and brightness inside the carriages.
The types of projects in this field often combine several areas of expertise: object design, service design, interactive design, graphic design, Anne-Marie Boutin admits. This is the case for the urban signs projects (Lyon’s SIV) but also for the Wiser range of objects that allow intelligent management of home energy [Editor's Note: from seven specific objects/interfaces].
This is why it can be difficult - sometimes too simplistic - to isolate interactive design projects per se. They rather reflect the hybrid and transversal aspects of these approaches. However, the progressive maturation of professionals, even if their number is still fairly low, is indisputable. And the specificity of the projects will lead us, as soon as the next exhibition, to a more appropriate
presentation of digital projects and service design.
Published in the Digitalarti Mag #8.
Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.
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