A series of everyday speculative artifacts that explore the physical metaphors of digital interactions.

2021 Spring - 2021 Fall
Speculative Design
Collaborator - Lifei Wang

Physical computing
Connected network

Skeuomorphism is a UI design trend that mimics the real-world counterparts in how they appear or how users can interact with them. 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 the digital interface into real-world interactions with smart home appliances.

Notification Toaster:
A tangible way to regulate your notification center

By juxtapositing the moment when a toaster pops up the toasted bread and the moment when the notification pops up on a phone, we suggest a new way to reimagine how digital information is presented and consumed.

Using the Notification Toaster is similar to using a regular toaster - the user puts their phones into the phone slot instead of bread. After pressing down the lever, the user waits until they have a new message coming into the phone, and they will see the toast pop up to augment the notification.

Unroll Toilet Paper:
Reimagine digital information consumption

In the early day, people used newspapers as toilet paper; we now 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. 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.


Notification Toaster:  We used a light sensor to detect the phone brightness to detect notifications for more real-time and reliable detection. We also replaced the original electromagnet with our own to control with Arduino. 

There were a lot of adjustments on the angle of the electromagnet to maximize the attraction. We got many feedback from cardboard prototyping that the corelation between rotary switch and number of messages are not clear to users, we added LED strip to give users a better indication of number of messages.

Toilet paper holder: The number of sheets unrolled determines the amount of messages to read from Alexa. Through Particles, webhook, and IFTTT, we made the toilet paper holder communicate with Alexa and New York Times.