I'm a big fan of Nicole He's creative technology work, which often uses whimsy to illuminate our relationships with technology and privacy. Her latest project, Invisible Roommates, is no exception. Created in collaboration with Eran Hilleli as part of the Everyday Experiments initiative sponsored by SPACE10 and IKEA, Invisible Roommates reveals all of the internet-connected devices that surround us in our homes by turning them into adorable animations:
Invisible Roommates is an augmented reality (AR) application that would make visible how the devices in your home interact with one another. The application would make use of existing technology to portray the different devices connected to your network as little living characters, playfully illustrating how these pieces of technology communicate while making it easier for you to understand what is happening in your home.
The application would first detect all of the different devices connected to your network; this would include the more obvious ones like computers or phones, as well as other things, like TVs, speakers, game consoles, vacuums or washing machines. It would then locate their manufacturing data and use it to recast your devices as charming characters, spawning on nearby surfaces in augmented reality. Each character's design would hint at the device it represents while remaining playful and open to interpretation (e.g. a character that resembles a TV portraying your TV).
Right now, Invisible Roommates is just a visual prototype, and not a functional app you can download. But He goes more in-depth into the design process in her newsletter, in which she explains how she examined packets on her local network and and assigned names to each little character based on their MAC address. Overall, it's a pretty neat look at the digital conversations happening around us!
Everyday Experiments: Invisible Roommates [Nicole He and Eran Hilleli / SPACE10 and IKEA]