Kaleidos | interactive device 

Laboratory of Interaction Design, IUAV University
Professors: Philip Tabor, Gillian Crampton Smith
When: from February to April 2011
Team: Martina Maitan, Fei Yu, Damiano Gui
Technology involved: Arduino and basic laws of mechanical engineering

In the world of instant and constant communication, what really makes the difference is the beauty and depth of the interaction with our communication devices. Especially for those categories of people less considered by the communication industry – the elderly and children – simplicity and beauty are what most enrich the communication experience.
Kaleidos is a device that allows direct and seamless communication through natural interaction.
It recreates through light and colors the “poetic mood” that has always characterized the strong bond between a wise grandmother and a loving granddaughter.

The device is composed of a sphere divided into two parts: the lower half, containing all of the operating mechanism, is covered with a thin layer of gold to give the feeling of a precious, magical and timeless object.
Once opened, the interaction starts: it is made of a few simple gestures (blow, shout, touch and shake), each representing a particular message to be sent to another Kaleidos device. For every input, both devices produce a specific output in the form of light and movement.

My role 
For this project I drew many initial sketches defining the main interactions, then made a lot of user tests with elderly and children for tuning the devices’ interactions to the gestures. Strong of my knowledge of history and arts I researched what I thought was the perfect material for giving the final shape to the prototype.
With Damiano I assembled the pieces of the device – and I learnt a lot about the mechanical engineering. I also composed the soundtracks of the videos with Reason software.
Here you can download the
PDF presentation of the project.
Here you can see a video that show a short story about the origin of Kaleidos, playing with the idea of “beyond space, beyond time” for recreate the right atmosphere around this mysterious and timeless object.
Here a video of a users test of the device.

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