The Interactive Telecommuncations Program (ITP) at NYU is a graduate program where students from diverse backgrounds get together to do cool stuff with technology. Every semester, they present an exhibition of student work — “interactive sight, sound and physical objects from the student artists of ITP”. Since I’m interested in the program, I decided on a bit of a whim to head down for the ITP Winter Show 2006.
Phillip Torrone posted a ton of photos from the show on the MAKE blog, but I thought I’d highlight a few of my favourite pieces.
From my point of view, one of the coolest things in the show was Botanicalls. Botanicalls allows you to have a phone conversation with your plant — it will call to tell you when it is thirsty, and again to say thanks after you have watered it.
Right beside the Botanicalls display was Andrew Schneider with his perform-o-shoes. These “wireless sensor-embedded kicks” use the motion of your feet to control a piece of music. When I heard Michael Jackson’s “Bad” from across the room, I had to go take a look, and I wasn’t disappointed. Be sure to check out the video.
After checking out Andrew’s shoes, I was drawn to the other thing making weird sounds in the room: Roy Vanegas’ MIDI pick. It’s a pressure-sensitive guitar pick that functions as a MIDI controller.
There were a few interesting projects under the theme of Sustainability. One of them was The Garden Electric, which uses wilting plants to bring attention to your electricity usage. Being bike-obsessed, I’m not sure how I managed to miss BikeJuice, which was right beside The Garden Electric.
The Smart Shelf is a bookshelf that can detect when a book is removed from the shelf. There were two interesting applications of this at the show. First, at a bookstore or library, it could be used to give recommendations of other books to read. The second application was for home use. When a child takes a book off the shelf, it would trigger a phone call to the child from one of the characters in the book.
All in all, it was a very interesting show, and I’m glad I made the trip. If you’re interested, you can see the full list of projects on the ITP site.