Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Toy View Workshop – Intent

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Often the intent of a experimental workshop can have everything to do with what its participants learn, and the depth and innovation of its outcomes. One such was the ‘Toy View’ workshop, which we at CIID attented in late December ’08 with Yaniv Steiner of Nasty Pixel. It was an exercise in contemplating, iterating and building concepts for toys and games. I thought the intent of the workshop was very interesting and decided to provide it here:

Toy View – Description of the workshop

For thousands of years mankind kept on crafting toys, with very little change in shape or form. Can a new generation of toys emerge, combining both the physical aspect and the diversity of the digital world?

This workshop will provide students with both practical and theoretical knowledge in the field of computer vision, in relation to: Play, Games and Toys. The expected results are toys or games in which a person uses a physical object to interact with a digital environment.
Students will attempt to create innovative “magical” toys, that are physical – mostly appearing as physical objects or artifacts made from different natural and synthetic materials – and at the same time serve as controllers and actuators for functions dealing with digital data. Digital data can be a wide set of elements, starting from pure text and ending in audio, videos, images, and at times even social particles. The emphasis is on creating a new hybrid of physical computer games.

Illustration made during brainstorm about what makes toys playful and how interactivity plays a role in playfulness.

Illustration made during brainstorm about what makes toys playful and how interactivity plays a role in playfulness.

At first, students will learn to harness and manipulate different computer-vision tools by the use of a camera, that provides machines with the ability to ‘see’. This part of the workshop will focus on building artificial systems that obtain information from images in order to understand their surrounding environment. The camera in this case is correlated with the human eye. However, the human organ that actually decodes this information is the brain and not the eye – interpreting images as what humans grasps as ‘vision’. This first step will explore ways and techniques to craft such machine-vision.

The second part of the workshop will drive students into the world of Games and Play. By investigating classical computer games, physical games and toys, students will brainstorm the topic, experimenting in original ideas that will combine both physical ‘toy’ objects, and the digital world. Conceptually speaking – at this point, new interactions and games will emerge.

The third and final part of the workshop will focus on realization and crafting the above concepts. At the end of the workshop student will have a physical working prototype of their idea, the result, in the form of a new game that will be presented at the end of the course to fellow students and colleague.

The whole workshop description including technical and conceptual aspects is here.


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