WristQue: being in touch with your ambient

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 by Roberto Saracco

I am here at the yearly Media Lab meeting looking at what is new, ideas and prototypes. The intellectual challenge is not to remain hooked on dreaming about the future but to place all these (crazy) ideas in perspective asking yourself what of these can fly and become common experience.

Take as an example WristQue.

WristQue, your key to control your Smart House

WristQue is an electronic wristband that can connect you to your smart space (a smart office, a smart home). it comes equipped with sensors and communications capabilities. It is a curved plastic box printed by a 3D printer containing a microprocessor and sensors to detect temperature, humidity and light plus a sideband communications system that double up as a localization device. It is being tested in the Media Lab, a smart building brimming with sensors everywhere that can tell how many people are in the room and quite often who they are (if like myself have loge in the building and carry a RFId tag).

It has been designed to be cheap and easy to use (it only has 3 buttons) and its easiness is possible because of the software that manages the smart ambient and integrates all information. The research team who designed it, the Responsive Environments group, explores how sensor networks augment and mediate human experience, interaction and perception, while developing new sensing modalities and enabling technologies that create new forms of interactive experience and expression.

Now, I feel that at least one piece of the puzzle, in making this a reality, is ok: the focus is on the user experience. However, there are other pieces that need to fall in place to make it a success, such as the availability of a smart space (an ambient equipped with sensors and with a software able to transform sensors’ data into useful information and act upon it) and the availability of interesting application. True, we never though 20 years ago that a television set has to have a remote control and now we could not live without it, but still wearing a bracelet all day to trim the home temperature makes very little sense to me…

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