Erez Kikin-Gil | Interaction + Design


Love maze – showing that you really care

 Design and programming: Erez kikin-Gil – (Tiltool)

Love maze is a wireless marble maze keyboard that controls an instant messenger.
The device is composed out of a wooden maze and a metal marble, and a hacked wireless keyboard. Using the marble users can initiate, compose and send instant love messages to their lovers.
Love Maze explores digital communication and aims to add complexity to the communication in close relationship, where the effort is appreciated.

The device is inspired by Gyaru-moji (ギャル文字 – girl alphabet), an SMS language that is used by Japanese teen girls and often requires more characters, and consequently more effort then normal SMS.
The use of this ciphered language is a sign for close relationships. Leet (also written as 31337, 1337, and l33t) has some similar complexity associated to it, especially in learning how to read and write messages.

Love maze is built with the following components:
1. Hacked wireless keyboard (see image).
2. Tin foil connectors
3. Metal marble
4. AutoHotkey –An awesome macro application
http://www.autohotkey.com/ Each time the users are able to place the marble on the maze holes, the metal marble close a circuit in the wireless keyboard, and send a key command to the computer.
The keys initiate the instant messenger application, define the message and send it to their lovers.



At the end of February 09, Microsot™s Business Division President Stephen Elop shared with the attendance of the Wharton Business Technology Conference Office™s labs vision of productivity. Elop™s signature motto was that it is essential for companies to invest in innovation especially during recession as it allows them to develop a competitive advantage that is essential to their survival, and evolution. My friend, Daniel Wigdor, referred me to immortal words of Lisa Simpson: look at the bright side dad, did you know that the Chinese use the same word for crisis as they do for opportunity? Yes , [Homer answers] Crisitunity!

Sure, crisis is a catalyst that forces change, and can be good. Unfortunately, change is a Darwinian mechanism that only benefits those that can overcome the harsh situation and evolve from it. Many of the companies that face this reality these days simply do not have the agility needed to do that. For example, General Motors lost 82 Billon dollars in the last three years, its market worth is only 1.34 Billion dollar. GM™s ability to survive the current rescission it is limited at best. It is admirable that Microsoft is heavily invested in efforts to map the future, even during these hard times. It is even more remarkable how these efforts are focused on real, viable future. If you see the end of Elop™s presentation, you would see him unveil the foundations on which these beautiful visions were founded on. it was all just a glimpse away. Watch Stephen Elop™s speech to see the underlying technologies and trends that will make this vision a reality [Start: 20:38] (Feb. 27, 2009)
Watch Future Vision: Montage (Feb. 27, 2009) (By office Labs)


Design and the Elastic Mind

Design and the Elastic Mind is a new exhibition at the MOMA that explores the reciprocal relationship between science and design. The exhibition highlights designers™ ability to grasp momentous changes in technology, science, and history”changes that demand or reflect major adjustments in human behavior”and translate them into objects that people can actually understand and use. The exhibition™s Web site presents over three hundred of these works, including fifty projects that are not featured in the gallery exhibition. Links: http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/2008/elasticmind/assets/pdf/Design_and_the_Elastic_Mind.pdf http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/2008/elasticmind/


water play

Water Play
Research on liquid interfaces
Key words : Physical prototyping
Skills used: interaction design

Water play is a water-based interface. It allows users to view content displayed on the water surface. The users can engage content through direct interaction with the water. This interface enables users to interact with content using water, just like a touch screen. Users can immerse their hands to the water, swirl, splash, or use other forms of interaction which are unique to the water.

This project, done for the future center of telecom Italia, explores novel ways of interaction. It draws its inspiration from the constant friction between the city’s inhabitance and the water they are surrounded by.

In the design process, my explorations were focusing on the particular qualities of the water and the data type, which match them. Introducing interaction with liquid substance, on three dimensions can enhance some types of information. on the other hand, they might fit less to other types.

My first exploration examined the interaction of historical information composed of visuals names and numbers in the water. I have designed an experience prototype, in which I could play with information placed on maps, through gestures. This experiment led me to peruse types of information that allow the user to play with them, rather then carry the need for accuracy, like the historical figures.

I have proceeded to explore qualities such as depth, surface, movement’s types and possible interaction with “pile of images” placed within water. On the following movies you can observe some of these explorations.



Brand enhancement through physical interaction

Key words : Brand enhancement, installation design, mobile devices

Skills used: Physical prototyping, interaction design

Team members: Erez Kikin-Gil, Ruth Kikin-Gil

“In an electronically nomadicized world I have become a two legged terminal, an ambulatory IP address, maybe even a wireless router in an ad-hoc mobile network. I am inscribed not within a single Vitruvian circle, but within radiating electromagnetic wavefronts”

William Mitchell, Me++ http://www.tiltool.com/images/fjord8.movGoals
Modern lives are increasingly becoming more flexible, connected and mobile. We were asked to create an installation for the Fjord’s office space that will communicate the themes of mobility and its influence on people’s lives. Fjord is a leading developer of digital products and services for people on the move.

PEOPLE+ installation exposes flows of communication, and stresses the fact that mobile communication expands the boundaries of a person and augments the distances one can reach.

A company = people + communication

Visual elements

The installation uses the human figure symbol and the Plus {+} sign as a vehicle to tell a story. And the story is simple: connect one human being to another, and you have a network, and mobile communication is all about networks. It is some kind of emotional math if you will.


A cloud made of the human figures and plus sign is hanging from the ceiling, and reacting to mobile phone activities (like a phone call, SMS etc) in its vicinity. When this happens, the cloud comes alive with streams of light flowing between the objects. The objects glow and dim; a human figure, a plus sign, another human figure, another plus sign and so on. An imaginary line is created, portraying a trajectory of a phone call.

PEOPLE+ XO figurine design was inspired by square calligraphy.

“Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything”

Neil Postmen, “Ten Principles of Technology”


Mobile communication has introduced new concepts to our lives and altered previous ways of thinking and operating. It has caused a change in social behaviors and values: multiple presence and multi-tasking, definition of personal boundaries, privacy issues, “always-on” society and the list goes on.

In our view the shift in the perceptions of time and space has relevance to the business environment.

In the past, when having an appointment with someone, being late was considered rude. It still is, but the notion of “late” has changed. You don’t actually have to be in a certain place on a specific time. It is good enough if you call from the road saying when you will be there, and if that changes, you can just call (or message) again, and it will be acceptable.

What is considered a rude behavior is not answering a call, or not replying to a text message in time. The importance of “where” has shifted to “when”.

Time became elastic, a material to play with.

The perception of the work space and its boundaries has changed as well. Offices stretch well beyond the confined space which was specified in the lease contract. The office exists wherever a company representative is, and is present everywhere where communication is, which means any place with phone connectivity or an internet access. The physical space has lost its dominant role in the business structure.

A company = people + communication.

How do the physical space, the augmented virtual space and the absence of space interrelate with each other and create a new type of space, which is different than the one we knew before.

Another interesting issue is that communication in itself has become a status symbol and an indication for one’s worth. People fake talking on the phone in order to look more important in front of their colleagues; others swap their phones to brag about their social relationships, text messages are considered to be digital valuables. Exposing communication and communication types is becoming a very interesting thing to look at.

In the business environment social = capital.

As mobile culture changes our perception of time and space it drives us to adapt new social patterns we asked ourselves how can this inspire us in the creation of this installation? What would this new time look like? How can it be represented? How can this new space be reflected as an installation? How can we express this transformation in their meaning which affects our everyday life?


Clients: When clients come to the office they should be intrigued and impressed by the installation. It could be a conversation piece, a way by which broader topics of mobility can arise naturally when a dialog is happening between a Fjord employee and a client.

Office workers: For those who work in the office, the installation is part of the space. It should have a long life span, and should be an item they can live with and maybe even surprised by occasionally.

Done with Wiring


Physical objects have digital shadow

Mike Kuniavsky recently gave a talk at Baychi. His presentation was focused on ubiquitous computing and was called: sketching smart things. Specifically his talk revolved around several interesting ideas:
1. Embedded information processing and networking is a material – when the cost of the Ubicomp elements becomes low, the designer have the freedom to explore, make “errors” and design.

2. Applianceness (term coined by Bill Sharpe) – the cross section between application and appliances.

3. Physical objects cast information shadows – every object has a digital shadow, a Meta data entity that has a life of its own.

4. Devices are service avatars- a key hardware component of ubiquitous computing is networking which places the emphasis on the information accessibility rather then the device.

5. Granularity determines key aspects of experience design – while we are used to multi purpose devices, with one size fits all both in input and output, ubiquitous computing allows more purposeful design.

6. Magic is a powerful Ubicomp metaphor. Ubicomp allows designers to enchant and animate objects, and make the interaction clearer and more visible.

The idea that physical objects cast information shadows is one that captured me more then the others, mostly because it is so poetic. It assumes the equality between all physical objects, animated and non-animated. It assumes that a virtual entity retains their presences long after their physical caster had disappeared. Instant messengers Bots are (like Santa clause Bot) already creating a confusing experience. It is not that hard to think about a Facebook Bot that interacts with my friends better then I am. This reminds me the story of the guy that was fed up with his shadow so much that on day he cut it and left him behind. To this guy’s misfortune, the shadow had its own plans and soon enough he took the guys’ identity and life. The shadow was so successful in his mission that people thought that he was more lively then his former owner.

links: http://www.orangecone.com/archives/2008/02/sketching_smart_1.html


The reactable, a tangible multi-user electronic music instrument

The Reactable is a tangible tabletop electronic music instrument. Users can compose music by moving and rotating elements on the Reactable.  The Reactable was used in Bjork™s 2007 tour. This instrument is being developed by a team of digital luthiers (Sergi Jord’ , Martin Kaltenbrunner, Gunter Geiger and Marcos Alonso), at the Music Technology Group within the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.


Tod E. Kurt’s Spooky Projects

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software (http://www.arduino.cc/) , which I use very often in my projects (http://www.tiltool.com/projects.htm). Tod E. Kurt (from thingm.com) just posted Spooky Projects -a set of four 3-hour classes, focused on microcontroller programming and interfacing with the real world using the Arduino physical computing platform.


Andrew Fentem’s cubic touchscreen computer


Tenori-On solo performance by its inventor Toshio Iwai