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Deal Me In
Managing digital collections through the language of card play

Author: Simone Pia (USA)
Supervisors: Heather Martin and Simona Maschi

Idea/problem/context Many of today’s seniors grew up before the advent of the personal computer, so are uneasy about dealing with it. But this older generation, the most active and educated in history, has many uses for what the computer offers. So this project substitutes for the computer keyboard a ‘tangible user interface’ (TUI) and metaphor familiar to seniors: playing cards.

What it is Deal Me In is a box containing: plastic discs like poker chips, each representing a month or year; two decks of cards resembling playing cards; and a foldable mat, rather like a blackjack table. One deck of cards is used to collect photos into sets, ‘albums’; the other, to modify the albums, print the photos, and so on. Cards and chips are all RFID-tagged.

How it works Plug the mat into your computer: your photo-management application (iPhoto, say) automatically reconfi gures itself for the Deal Me In interface. Then place cards on the mat to indicate your intentions. For instance, putting down an ‘album’ card displays its associated photos one at a time; placing a ‘print’ card next to it prints the photo currently displayed. Connecting your camera to the mat automatically downloads its photos and displays thumbnails of them all; putting down a blank album card ‘captures’ those photos: you now have a new album. If you lose an album card, put down two chips, together representing a month and a year: this lets you recreate album cards from that period.

Value/Potential This project focuses on photo management, but its principle – a TUI modelled on familiar graphic artifacts like card games – could not only apply to other digital archives (films, music, contacts, and so on) but – by including those ‘left behind by technology’, of all ages – greatly expand the number of computer users.

download QuickTime Movie (video by Andrea Pierri) - 1.88 MB


Simone Pia
2005 graduate
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