The DIY workshop
a project by Vishal Rawlley
supported by Open Space
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GROUP 4
D.Noise Design Festival hosted a workshop on 'Creating Interactive Installations using Ubiquitous Technology', 24-25 Jan 2013


Workshop concept:
Title: Creating Interactive Installations using Ubiquitous Technology

This workshop shall train participants to use a combination of mobile phones, web cams, software and electronics to set up interactive
installations.

These installations shall be designed to elicit public participation and interaction in a game or a spectacle.

The idea is to use ordinary devices in interesting ways to create community interactions and public campaigns.

These interactive campaigns in public spaces can be more effective than conventional strategies because of their spectacular physical presence and participatory approach.

This workshop demonstrates creative ways of repurposing ordinary media tools, telecommunication devices and digital technologies.

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This workshop is aimed at people working with design, media and technology. It shall also interest artist, activists and people working with local communities.

This shall be a two day intensive hands-on workshop. The first day shall be an indoor session of 3-4 hours where various tools and techniques shall be demonstrated. The second day shall be a field exercise in building and installing an interactive installation. This would be a 3-4 hour exercise.

The workshop as it happened:

We were a group of 12 people. It was a mixed bunch: some design students, some engineering aspirants, an art teacher and a museum designer. Our aim was to works with ubiquitous technology to setup an interactive exchange in a public space. We decided to work with the most egalitarian of devices: the mobile phone. And rather than building a physical interactive installation, we decided to create an interactive information web on a physical space.

We focused on the following features of common mobile phones:
- A phone call can start an event - by giving an instruction to a man or machine
- One event can lead to another, and be lead further by another call or message
- Phones can also communicate with their screens and tones

Using these features we designed a treasure hunt. The game was implemented in the premises of the Birla Auditorium:
> The first clue was sent to the registered participant via SMS by the Game Master
> This SMS clue lead to a vehicle with a specific license number in the parking lot
> On returning the exact license number to the Game Master via SMS, the player got the next SMS clue which lead to the snack bar
> At the snack bar the player had to call a phone placed nearby. This phone flashed an image clue on its screen on receiving a call.
> This clue lead to a statue in the premises. Here another clue instructed the player to call a number and listen to the answering machine.
> The voice in the answering machine instructed the player to find an orange flower, photograph it and bring it to the reception desk.
> On showing the photo at the reception desk, the player got the next clue. This was a phone number placed nearby with a clue in its ringtone.
> This ringtone instructed the player to find a curtain. Near the curtain the last clue was a tongue twister which the player had to repeat to the Game Master to finish the game.

We had one workshop session ( 3 hours) to think of the game, the second session to build it, the third session to test it and the final session to play the game. We had 16 participants. We had one Game Master. We had 5 people manning 5 phones to ensure the system worked smoothly. It took about 20 minutes to play the game. 6 people finished the game in reasonable time to win chocolates.

The game was a demonstration in how to set up an interactive information web over a physical space using ordinary devices like phones, apps, cameras and internet. On a city level, this kind of a treasure hunt can take one through a guided tour of a place. It can even allow users to add their own voice to it, interact with other users and expand the web. These DIY city webs could be citizen initiatives to call attention to particular aspects of the city and to promote local knowledge sharing.

In this interactive multimedia game environment we also explored aspects of media aesthetics: like using SMS for statistical information and facts, using voice to add persona, using photography to focus on a visual detail, using time and transmission delays to introduce the idea of anticipation, using physical distance and remote access to create disorientation of space - all of which become dramatic devices for this interactive game design.

The D.Noise workshop group is conspiring to design a treasure hunt for the city of Jaipur. A special thanks to all the D.Noise crew, the workshop participants and the game players.

Some photos from the event
Above: The treasure hunt game designers ready with the rules Above: The treasure hunt players ready with their mobile phones