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Unbox Workshop, Delhi India

An overview of the expectations and results from our ‘Connected Chowk’ workshop.

Telling Stories with Objects

We asked the workshop participants to take away an object and think about how it could connect to the Internet of Things. We encouraged the participants to think about how the object could connect to the Internet on a social and human level. The objects were all things that we had found in the local markets; a set of hammerheads, a leather bag, a silk scarf, wooden beads and a walnut cracker. We introduced each object with a personal story of why we had bought these items to get the groups thinking about the objects on a personal and human wavelength.

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Customising and story telling through contextless technology

The initial exercise was just to get the participants thinking of the Internet of Things as a more personal and human network rather than the Internet connected fridge full of red herring. We gave each group a set of RFID technology: an RFID reader, RFID cards, RFID buttons and RFID capsules. The RFID reader had had a built in keypad and could log and print the tag ID, time, place and any value entered into the keypad. We asked the groups of participants to sketch out High St/Chowk scenarios where this technology was connected to the Internet. Who is it for? Where does it belong, who uses it? What does it do?

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Customising RFID tags and readers

Whilst the participants were working away on ising their ideas and scenarios there were two local craft practitioners working away customising the tech in their own way; a wood carver and a embroiderer. These practitioners were here for two reasons. They were there to help the participants realise their ideas generated during the workshop. They were also there for to interpret and customise the technology in a craft, human, and tacit way.

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What methods worked?

By talking about objects on a very personal methods level it really helped the workshop participants think about the Internet on a much more human level. They began to make the IoT revolve around social and emotional needs. This allowed the generation of some really interesting and different ideas from multi-cultural interdisciplinary groups of people.

The RFID tech part of the workshop did not run as we wanted it to. We had brought twelve fully working RFID data loggers along with one hundred RFID tags. We expected to see some ideas realised and deployed around the festival. Instead the groups were more focussed on idea generation, and did not even need to plug the technology in. This was mainly down to time constraints. It would of also been nice to see more of an integration of the crafts people within the groups, sketching with their craft as the participants sketch their ideas.

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