Pairing Digital & Real-life Gestural Interactions
Through Critical Making

Instructor - Daragh Byrne
Completion - Spring 2021

Physical Computing
Speculative Design

Skeuomorphism is a UI design trend that mimics the real-world counterparts in how they appear and/or how users can interact with them. An example is the recycle bin icon for discarding files. In contrast, what are the real-world gestural counterparts of digital interface interactions?

As IoT seep into daily activities, the boundary between digital interactions and real-life interactions becomes even more indistinguishable. This project explores a few cases of translating digital interface into real-world interactions using IoT.

Unroll is a commentary that explores the subliminal area between the habit of digital scrolling and its real-life counterpart - unrolling a toilet paper roll. The hilarious parallel between the two interactions might suggest a quite dystopian future when digital content consumption is merged with everyday toilet interactions.
Horizon Scan ︎︎︎
In the early day, people used newspaper as toilet paper; we read on our digital devices as we sit on the toilet. The parallel even extends into the way we interact with digital content and toilet paper - endless, disposable vertical scroll.
Future Artifact ︎︎︎
Therefore, it is reasonable to imagine that in the future smart home, people will purchase toilet paper rolls of different apps (e.g. New York Times) to consume scoll-based digital contents and free their hands from scrolling phones.
Object System ︎︎︎
To construct a world around this future artifact, I designed a smart toilet paper holder to identify the apps for different rolls, the number of sheets unrolled to determine the content to read out in Alexa through IoT.

Physical Fabrication ︎︎︎
I first used sketching and low-fi prototypes to figure out the mechanism for toilet paper holder to host all the electronics. Then I modeled and 3d printed in higher fidelity and refined the model further. 
Design reference: Smart Toilet Paper Roll
Physical Computing ︎︎︎
Through hacking the communication between Particles, IFTTT and Alexa (sometimes working against how the communication usually operates between platforms), I was able to detect the degree of rotation from rotatory encoder to trigger Alexa to report news.