Between April 2004 and October 2005 I worked with the Research Consortium for Speckled Computing to create a suite of wirelessly networked jewellery, the first working application of this new enabling technology for ubiquitous computing. There were two design iterations; user engagement is illustrated on the left.
The interaction has been designed to map the social activity of greeting, and the three distances at which members of a friendship group greet each other are reflected in the LED display on the two brooches and one pendant. I combined tangible materials such as enamels and precious metals, with the vision of a spray-able, scatter-able sensing dust.
A key driver for the research was the everyday, and I identified the friendship group as a crucial to future interaction design, a building block of the wider social fabric. As a material, the key characteristics of speckled computing are distribution and communication, so it was important to define a user group with existing social ties, rather than amassing a ‘sample’ from a given demographic. The five women who took part in the doctoral work were already a self-defined friendship group, and through their talk around the networked Friendship Jewellery, I was able to capture and analyse their systems of meaning making.
First Iteration 2004
The first iteration comprised two brooches and a pendant (far left).
Materials: Formica, perspex, Speckled Computer prototype, mild steel
The pieces are shown reacting to each others’ proximity. They were tested at the Creative Digital Interaction Symposium at Edinburgh College of Art in September 2004.
related publications (i)
Kettley, S (2005). Framing the Ambiguous Wearable. Convivio Online Journal. Framing the Ambiguous Wearable link
Kettley, S. (2005). Visualising Social Space with Networked Jewellery. In Turner, P., Davenport, E., & Turner, S. (Eds.). More Space. Proceedings of the second workshop on Place, Spatiality and Technology, pp.92-98. Napier University, Edinburgh 12-14 December 2004. Visualising Social Space with Networked Jewellery pdf
Kettley, S. (2005). Crafts Praxis for Critical Wearables Design. In Proceedings Wearable Futures Conference, University of Wales, Newport, Sept 2005. Also in AI & Society Journal Vol. 21 (4) 2007 33.
Kettley, S. (2005). Crafts Praxis as a Design Resource. In Proceedings of the Engineering & Product Design Education Conference, Napier University, Edinburgh, September 2005. P. Rodgers, L. Brodhurst, & D. Hepburn (Eds.). (2005). Crossing Design Boundaries, pp.545-549. London: Taylor & Francis Group.
Second Iteration 2005
The Friendship Jewellery, at the centre of my doctoral research, continued with a second design iteration in 2005, addressing issues of wearability, user control, power supply and readability of output, as well as developing the aesthetic aspects of the collection. Five networked pendants were created at the jeweller’s workbench for a group of five female friends in Scotland, using Speckled Computing prototype technology.
The five friends were with the project for two years and participated in a series of activities which sketched their friendship network. These included self monitoring questionnaires, collage activities, and social space interviews. The working jewellery network was then used in social approach and avoidance games in the public space of the Royal Museum of Scotland, allowing me to observe the women and objects in action together.
This excerpt is from the thesis abstract:
The user centred methodology was informed by Actor Network Theory to account for the agency of the researcher and the event of task based analyses, and included lifeworld analysis techniques drawn from a range of disciplines such as Psychology and experimental Interaction Design. Three data sets collected over the course of two years were analysed using Grounded Theory, and a novel visualisation tool was developed to illustrate potential commitment to the novel concept designs. The methodology revealed a story of what the women made of the jewellery, how they enacted these understandings, and where this process took place.
related publications (ii)
Kettley, S. & Smyth, M. (2006). Plotting Affect and Premises for Use in Aesthetic Interaction Design: towards evaluation for the everyday. Proceedings of HCI UK. Vol.1. London September 11-15 2006.
Kettley, S. (2007). An Engagement with Emerging Technology. In Axis Dialogue, January 2007.
Kettley, S. (2007). Reflection and Transparency: Rhythms in Experiences with Craft. In Proceedings New Craft – Future Voices International Conference, pp 304-310. University of Dundee, Scotland, 04-06 July 2007.
Reflection and Transparency.
In Scotland where I was based at the time, five universities make up the Speckled Computing Consortium. The research group is headed up by the Department of Informatics at Edinburgh University, while I worked within the Centre for Interaction Design at Edinburgh Napier University. Speckled Computing is an enabling technology with far reaching implications for wearables. The vision of this European funded project is to continue and improve upon work done on Smart Dust at Berkeley in the United States, designing and building what will be the generic enabling technology of Ubiquitous Computing. The goal of the research is to redesign the components of a sensing, processing, wireless transmitter receiver at nano scales, allowing the complete package to measure just one millimetre by one millimetre by one millimetre. ‘Speckz’ will ideally be sprayable, may be painted onto surfaces or suspended throughout host materials, waiting to be activated, capable of self organising to maintain an efficient network, and giving constant feedback on the state of their environment. Applications may include the analysis of fluid dynamics, ‘smart’ visual fire escape aids, or talking toys. Please visit the specknet website where there is an excellent and up to date overview.