20 May 2003
What is your thesis project about?
A huge number of people are travelling by plane these days and this number will only increase. When you travel, you are located in a time space you do not control. Sometimes you spend time just waiting, before getting on with your travel again. These waiting periods are often extremely boring and uncomfortable. That's how I started thinking about a playful and engaging space where long-haul air travellers can relax and forget the time they spend in transit.
What did you make?
My prototyped relaxation space, Re-Lounge, is set within a plastic bubble, which I got sponsored from Roominteriorproducts in Holland. I adapted the bubble by adding projections of imagery, colours and sounds to it. These are all related to the final destination of the traveller and change according to the movements you make within the bubble, registered by a reactive pillow. I have chosen to focus on the season and weather of the destination. Imagine you are a long-haul traveller. When you check in, you give your Re-Lounge card to the airline assistant who loads it with flight-related information. When you arrive at the transit airport with a few hours of transit time between two long-haul flights, you just go to the Re-Lounge room, and place your card on the welcome stand (or 'touchDown'), which registers your final destination and the boarding time of your next flight. You enter the bubble space and inside there is the pillow, which I call the 'dreamPillow'. It has two flex sensors in it, and a little motor to wake you up if you fall asleep. You can use the pillow to play with the imagery and the lights, but also just lie down: the imagery will still change because the pillow is sensitive enough to register the movements of your torso. You can also play with the sounds, distort the pitch or qualities of the music by your movements, and compose your own music. Half an hour before you need to board, the pillow will buzz you, so you get out in time.
What do you want to achieve now with this project?
I am now working on having it in a real setting and I am trying to implement it in Munich airport. They find it quite interesting. It is after all a way for them to promote or distinguish themselves. Chicago and Detroit airports both have passenger tunnels that are called 'calm technology', with a flow of lights and music as you go along the tunnel. It is simply made for you to forget the fact that you have to go through an otherwise horrible long tunnel. And it becomes an experience in itself that people remember and will talk about. I would need a larger team, a company behind me, though, to implement it.
What impact has Interaction-Ivrea had on you?
My background was focused on screen-based interactions. Here I was suddenly allowed to think about physical interactions and actual spaces. Also interesting was service design: thinking about a whole experience from a service point of view.
What are your plans now?
I would like to get into event design, because it involves people, the experience of something, a physical thing, and relatively short periods during which the experience has to be available for people. I would enjoy adding an interactive experience in such a setting. You can be much more experimental in event settings.
(Interview by Mark Vanderbeeken)