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Design

Secret Letter

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Secret Letter

Smart stationery-product prototype


  • At: Taipei International invention and technology trading exhibition, Taipei WTC
  • By: Tuomo Tammenpää & Dimension Plus, TW
  • To: ITRI, Taiwan
  • In: September 2017

Description

“Secret Letter” is a prototype for a playful stationery product. The idea is based on “smart letters”, paper sheets with RFID tags hidden inside. The customers can buy these blank letters, write their message on them with pen and add a secret digital message in the RFID/NFC tag, using  accompanied phone app. Letters are mailed by post and the recipient can read both the visible mesasage and the secret message. Design thinking behind the concept is based on two claims: 1) physical message is precious and 2) the promise of secrecy raises curiosity. In the times of social messaging and information overload, sending and receiving a physical message, a letter or a postcard carries more value. For example. handwritten love letter with a secret part visible only to the reciever will feel very special. Also, in general, adding digital content to physical objects opens new possibilities for sharing and saving memories.

There are several potential target audiences for NFC enchanced stationery products. Playful examples include romantic love letters or secret letters between best friends, targeted for teens and young adults. However, this kind of product needs a reminder of the value of a physical letter, in the times of hundreds of short messages during the day. The two-part message concept: one visible, one hidden, opens also game-like applications, from question-answer combinations like riddles to lottery tickets or scratchcards. The secret message can be also used as a link to any digital content stored online or trigger more engaging interaction on the phone app client. Technically, the market is ready for NFC based applications. Two out of three phones ship with NFC in 2018 due to the increase of mobile payment systems and even Apple has opened it’s NFC chip for developers. Also, the emerging Blockchain technology opens up new possibilities on securely storing data on a distributed network, and enabling game-mecahnics like collectibles and chain-letters with long-tail built-in to the service.

The Secret Letter was inspired by the silver ink antenna- and circuit technology by ITRI. Concept started from envisioning an idea of a “super material”, where one could combine properties like printed circuits and antenna design with memory alloys for actuating motion or pressure sensitivity for capturing user interactions. The process focused on adding memory in to physical objects, where a tag can store bit of information or link to information online. For storing short text information, a small secret felt the most precious and the idea crystallised to a “smart letter” -product. Next, embedding the tag between two sheets of paper was experimented and this worked well with thin sticker tags. However, the affordance of keeping the tag visible had usability value, and this, combined with aesthetic qualities of silver ink ornament, led to the idea where the tag could be visible.This prototype models the idea of antenna design as a functional brand label for the Secret Letter -product

Secret Letter prototype was an outcome of a “Prototyping Workshop”, organised by ITRI Taiwan and produced by DimensionPlus in Taipei, April 2017

From Border to Home

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From Border to Home

Exhibition concept design


Finnish Pavilion, Venice Biennale of Architecture


Tuomo Tammenpää & Marco Steinberg


Museum of Finnish Architecture


2016


Blog post, March 3rd, 2016

frombordertohome.fi
I was staring at the wording of “From Border to Home”, the title of the concept-brief that curator Marco Steinberg had just presented. The name was the same as the architectural competition from previous autumn, which was asking for housing solutions for asylum seekers in Finland. The name was great for that challenge, but Marco had just expanded the theme to include the history of migration in Finland: how all of us have a direct connection to migration, frequently no more than a few a generations from either having arrived or left for somewhere. This contextualisation together with the awarded entries would be exhibited in Finnish Pavilion in few months. Could it still be titled under From Border to Home?

This is how concept design often seem to start. Questioning sometimes the obvious, challenging, and trying to bring clarity to the task at hand, before any actual design work had been done. We had a big team involved in design, SITO for the exhibition design, and a sizable team from Museum of Finnish Architecture lead by its director and commissioner of the Finnish pavilion Juulia Kauste.

A few days later I presented illustrations of how the title could be expanded. First I included a couple of other From and To words to the title, in a form of a selection, adding words like Here and There or Shelter and Home besides the original words of Border and Home. I visualised this with stamped words, as a reference to stamping as a formal approval (or denial) on your visa or passport. This we discussed with the whole team. Visual language of stamps was interesting but bit messy, including a set of words in the title was bit impractical — how would you write it in a sentence … back to the drawing board.

I did second round of iteration where I cleaned it all up brought it back to basics: visually separating the From and To from the words Border andHome as a small reference to the fact that could be changeable. I saved the use of stamps for later and kept the typography official in spirit (or even dry) to support another visual component of the exhibition: infographics which were to illustrate the population and migration graphs in Finland. We had a visual concept.

Since the stamp idea resonated with the whole team, I proposed that we make a set of real stamps for the visitors to choose from: to allow them to stamp their current “From-To” status on the exhibition booklet. Marco came up with an idea to use “welcome door mats” at the entry and exit of the exhibition. Rather than the classic “Welcome” we used the newly created template to provide the wording: From Change – To Change. With this, we had a few adaptations of the From-To concept and it looked understandable on paper. What was left was to see if  it worked in practice.

Related links

  • From Border to Home -blog

Foodbuddy

By | Dan & Tuomo, Design | No Comments

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Foodbuddy

Physical interaction nutrition game


  • at: Fazer Visitor Center, Vantaa, Finland
  • by: Tuomo Tammenpää & Daniel Blackburn
  • for: Ateljé Sotamaa / Fazer
  • in: 2016 -> (ongoing)

Foodbuddy is a playful and educational game for encouraging the players in picking up healthy food on the lunch plate. Fazer Visitor Center visitor groups are guided around a big table full of various food items as small wooden blocks. The blocks are in six shades and categories: proteins, fibers, fats, veggies, drinks and miscelleanous snacks and treats. The task of the player is to pick up a plate, collect a meal and bring the plate to the nearby Foodbuddy robot. When placing the plate on the robots tray and pushing a button, the robot evaluates the healthiness of the meal, based on the current Nordic nutrition standards and gives out stars from zero to five, followed by compact breakdown of fulfilled categories. After this the player can try to improve the score or get playful with it.

Design process started from the design brief from Tuuli and Kivi Sotamaa from Ateljé Sotamaa. Few different play interfaces were explored. The “Food plate” as an interface suggested pie-chart style of physicalisation of a familiar way of describing ratios, however, this was impractical for varying ratios of the food categories. Simplifying food items to understandable representations required also some iterations, when the audience is multi-lingual and multi-cultural and of many ages. Marking the food item as as-generic-as-possible pictogram turned out to be the best solution in the end. Instead of color-coding the block / food categories, we went for more subtle choice with different wood types, from dark oaks to pale birches.

Foodbuddy is high-usage tangible-interaction game, which benefits from low-maintenance and high-durability from the technological solution and low learning-curve user experience, “just try it and you’ll get it”. Physical blocks with passive RFID tags are ideal for this task. Wooden blocks are a natural tangible interface for touch, familiar for all ages, and passive RFID tags embedded in them, makes them very long-lasting and inexpensive, even in volumes.

The content expertise was provided by Fazer nutrition expert Leila Fogelhom, Foodbuddy furniture and playing blocks were designed with Ateljé Sotamaa.

Energy blocks

By | Dan & Tuomo, Design, Prototype | No Comments

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Energy blocks

Physical interaction math-game


  • At: Finnish Pavilion, Astana World Expo 2017
  • By: Tuomo Tammenpää & Daniel Blackburn
  • For: Ateljé Sotamaa / Finpro
  • In: Summer 2017

Energy game is an educational, physical interaction math-game commissioned to Finnish Pavilion in Astana WorldExpo2017 by Ateljé Sotamaa & Finpro. The game is played on custom table with tens of wooden blocks in different colours and values, and an embedded computer screen. Hidden, below the table surface, there is RFID reader that detects the tags hidden inside each playing block, enabling the computer running the system, to identify each block placed on marked play area. The player is asked to match the energy need of a city and by adding the values from the blocks in three different energy categories, solar, wind and hydro power (the colours of the blocks) she can try to deliver. If player adds up the tally with correct value in all categories in time, the game proceeds to the next level. The time speeds up, quickly becoming impossible to match the short play-time requirement for hundreds of visitors per day.

WAY

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WAY – Seaway, Railway, Bikeway

Urban transformation of Helsinki

WAY – Seaway, Railway, Bikeway is a exhibition concept for the Finnish Pavilion in UABB Bi-city biennale of urbanism/architecture in Shenzhen, presenting the urban transformation of city of Helsinki from a small harbour town, via modernisation of Finland, to a its current state as city of its citizens. The exhibition has two sections, interactive historical journey and a participatory section for visitor feedback and dialogue.

The centerpiece of the interactive part is a big birch plywood table in the shape of Helsinki shoreline with wooden objects, representing eras and themes. Both the table and the wall behind it are projected with the historical content. The visitors are encouraged to move the objects to marks on table to trigger the content they are interested in. The table recognises the objects and plays short video clips based on the users selection. Specific key areas during specific eras can be selected (like: Port, 1800-1900 )or more generic zeitgeist material from set of themes and eras (like: leisure 1950-1990)

On the participatory side, the visitors can write their contribution on a card and hang it on boards under “way-themes” like: Smart way, My way, No way etc. Comments were visible and easily accessible for the other visitors for inspiration or further commenting.

Playkka

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Playkka

Interactive play table


  • in: Naantali Taidekesä, Salo Art museum, Playful New York.
  • by: Tuomo Tammenpää
  • for: Naantali Taidekesä
  • in: June 2006

Playkka is a prototype for interactive table-top play. RFID readers below the table surface recognizes the RFID-tagged objects played on the surface. Screen graphics and/or sound can be programmed to respond, guide or direct the play. The prototype is made primarily to explore play-mechanics with tangible objects as computer interface. The actual play / game content will be co-created together with the experts in the area Playkka will be used as play environment e.g. professional educators.

Traditional table-top games & plays, like board games encourage in social interaction, bring people together face-to-face but lack computational logic which can greatly improve the game & play dynamics. Traditional video & computer games on the other hand, excel in logic but restrict the interaction to game controllers that are not as intuitive and exploratory as set of different objects, especially for younger children. Playkka tries to merge these two worlds by combining the best bits of each.

Play With Us!

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Play With Us!

Interactive table prototype


  • in: Hirameki Design x Finland, Tokyo
  • by: Tuomo Tammenpää / Yatta Oy
  • for: Yatta Oy / Design Forum Finland
  • in 2010

“Play With Us!” -concepting prototype is an interactive table with a playful interface for demonstrating the benefits of diverse competences in concept design practice. Different competencies (eg Architect, Service Designer, Psychologist, Copywriter etc) are presented in form of playful character objects. Each character represents years of expertise in that specific field. These “Skill-characters” can be played on the interactive table. The table is embedded with a touchscreen and two reactive areas, one for “PRODUCT” and the other for “SERVICE”. The characters are embedded with RFID tags.

By moving the YATTA skill-character on one of the reactive areas, thought-provoking questions are presented to the player from the point of view of that specific expertise. For example, if the player has a service, let’s say bike rental start-up, he/she can engage with conversation of all YATTA experts by bringing the characters to the SERVICE area. A YATTA Art Director character might ask “Could one picture explain the whole service?” or Strategist might ask “Are you using foresight mapping?” etc. In this manner the player starts the conversation with our experts virtually in order to improve his/her product or service and gradually understands, why wide diversity in expertise is very beneficial in concepting practice. And since he/she is playing with just characters, the personalities of the real people are reduced to representations of skills, making it easier to really play with us.

Tiletoy

By | Dan & Tuomo, Design, Prototype, Workshop | No Comments

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Tiletoy

Modular, electronic game prototype


  • At: Bates Mill, Huddersfield, UK
  • by: Tuomo Tammenpää & Daniel Blackburn
  • for: Tuomo&Dan
  • in: 2004

TileToy is a modular, electronic game prototype for tangible LED game tiles. TileToy brings the flexibility inherent in digital software to a physical tile that people can touch and interact with. By arranging the electronic tiles, players can engage themselves in various kinds of game play, ranging from fast-paced arcade style games to puzzle an learning games.

The tiles are plastic cases approximately 2″ square. The main inspiration for the look and feel comes from the heyday of the LED, when plastic hand-held games ruled the gaming world. This retro-look is fused with a more modern minimal design. The minimalism enhances the magic of cordless boxes that simply communicate with each other. In TileToy, technology is sealed within the design. The interaction is based on tactile experience where no user manual is needed.

The flexible architecture of the tiles makes TileToy a versatile platform for development of various applications from several genres. Compared with traditional tile games TileToy can take advantage of such things as changing state, animations and games where the tiles can effect the state of adjoining tiles. Simple word games can be created where each tile displays a random letter and the players organize the letters into the longest word possible. Numbers and arithmetic characters can be displayed with the player having to arrange the tiles into a sum to give a specified result. Matching games are yet another way the tiles could be programmed to act as a learning aid. Applications can be developed also to utilize the tiles purely for display purposes to show patterns, animations or even live information.

The re-programmable and constantly updated graphical information on each tile is displayed with a LED matrix system. The screen displaying the information is an endlessly versatile surface for updated visual communication. Each tile is controlled individually and can be used to transmit information on its own or in groups of several tiles. The assembled tiles transmit wirelessly their individual position in relation to each other and based on that changing information, a central computer, or a dedicated tile runs the different applications.

TileToy is an open source software and hardware project, but from 2004-2005, and the lot of things has changed since then. Github repository is open but more for archival purposes. The basic idea should be still relevant and much easier and cheaper to make over decade later.