Here is another post about the InfoPanel Spirit, or “how students find ways to communicate through the apropiation of their surrounding Architecture”.
InfoPanel was one of the features in the project for the Student House in Trondheim. It was some sort of communication or socialization device, that, among other features, it would allow students to control their profile inside the community of the Student House.
In this case, an MIT student, Dheera Venkatraman, designed an innovative way to hack his dorm door and enter his room without using a key.
In this version of the door opener (he went through several ones) he completely disassembled an old IBM typewriter and used it to pull the doorknob. This was also accompanied by an LCD display, separated from a laptop and mounted through the door, sending the wires through the hole left after unscrewing the provided eyehole.
The LCD display permitted people to leave messages as well as enter a dialog box that would allow a password to be entered to unlock the door.
This version of the door opener also used a variety of other entry authentication systems, including using a barcode scanner, magnetic reed sensors positioned strategically behind the door (where you would have to tap the correct sequence at the correct place on the door with a strong magnet), and capacitive (where you just tap your fingers on the doorknob itself in a particular pattern).
The info-panel is an empathy multiplier. It was proposed to be installed in the front of each bedroom in MySpace Student House.
It helps to get an individually responsible management of a building, this way becoming socially sustainable.
Myspace Building Info Panel had three blocks of information, or three kinds of information that could be displayed: Image port, Personal Messenger and the Sustainabiltiy Co-Responsibiltiy Device.
1. Image Port.
Room occupier identity image (avatar, user’s photograph…) and Personal image/video collection (as in a digital frame).
2. Personal messenger
– Message screen. “We’ll meet at the hyperlounge at 12.00” “I am currently reading Ulyses” “Recent acquisitions in my ipod: Coldplay, Metallica, first Lou Reed record”.
– Icon mode for recurrent messages. Messages like “I’m out”, “I’m busy”, “Water my plants please!” could be substituted by easily recognisable graphic icons.
– “Post-it” dispenser. A sort of mailbox for short informations introduced by others into the message board, or directly as phisical notes. USB accesible from the exterior or phisical mailbox. For persons who wish to leave a message to the owner of the room. Info panels should be interfaces for interchange, not only individual means of information.
The Info panel was also a tool to find reciprocal affinities among the student community, to encourage the idea of the building as a community of people related. When someone simply writes “I like James Joyce” on his panel, and that information is visible to others, he would be likely to meet people with the same tastes for literature.
3. Co-responsibility device
Here the following information would be introduced: Water and energy consumption. Even temperature of the room (compared to that of all rooms). Waste generation.Paper consumption. A software introduced in resident`s printers would easily tell the amount of paper he is consuming. This is a possible example of how the waste generation could be traced. Other debris could be weighted directly on personal rubbish bins.
All of this information related to the building’s average numbers.
We imagine two complementary ways of exposing this information. The first one would be simply a screen where to have facts and figures of personal co-responsibilty rates. The second would directly affect the look of the corridor spaces: Each info panel would have a light panel that would change from green to blue, the more consumption, the more the panel would blush into blue. That would give a quick map of the consumption of each level, a map that would involve the building itself. In a way, the building would “talk”.
Possibly the implementation of the InfoPanel system would require to have a centralized computer net, a sort of Myspace intra-net that would serve as bridge between users and info panel (when someone plugs his computer into his panel) and a means of coordinating the energy consumption lectures. A resident should have the resposibiltiy to act as net-master.
Lounge Info Panel
An Info Panel, like an airport display, introduced in the Collective Lounge wouldo offer a sort of general map of co-responsibility practices. This panel also would transmit general information to others. “Data-Rock concert at 19.00 on the west lounge area” “Record of low electric consumption at 1.00AM this morning!”
Technologies involved in the Info Panel would not neccesarily encompass very sofisticated solutions. From the digital to the analogue, it could incorporate different degrees of technology, from the very standard computing devices and flat screens to mechanical or electrical ones, resulting in an interesting combination of present day technologies and ‘vintage looking’ less sofisticated ones.
Although in the end none of these technologies was installed, the students living in Teknobyen Student House did use some of the surfaces available to write their own messages and express themselves.