Experience Design, as I see it, is the seamless integration of smart technology and architecture to create spaces for curated, personalized experiences. These are kinetic spaces that use electricity as their pulse.
It sounds vague, but it isn't.
Our homes can be intelligent. We take it for granted that our air conditioners can be self-regulated but imagine if our living rooms could change the lighting conditions based on the time of day or transform in perfect synchronization with a film we're watching.
Our hospitals can be more intuitively adaptive. Since each hospital room is capturing real-time data about its patients, it can translate it into useful experiences. For example, sensing that a patient is asleep, the room can dim the lights. Low body temperature should cause the heating in the room to rise, and when the television is on the window blinds automatically close.
Our retail environments can help guide us in our searches. A woman will be guided towards the sales rack for her size. A lover of silk will be lead to the new silk scarves collection at the back of the store. In search of a particular jewelry designer, a shopper will be able to identify locations of interest throughout the store in a directed, immediate and personalized way. Coming out of their car in the parking lot, a shopper will be immediately lead to the stores carrying the latest, most relevant electronic product.
It seems far away, but it isn't. In fact, it's almost all already here.
We have smart mobile devices and smart sensors of every kind that are small, non-intrusive, and often already built in. Camera tracking technology is available in a whole spectrum of resolutions, scales and complexities. The hardware for capturing data from the environment is readily available and totally affordable.
Intelligent software platforms are also already here. We're already broadcasting our thoughts, actions and interests in Facebook and Twitter. Websites such as Google and Bing are already collecting, tracking and analyzing user behavior and using it for data-mining. The gathering of useful information and its processing is already applied across multiple platforms and businesses.
Programming languages such as Processing, Flash, Papervision and Open Frameworks are providing an easy link between action and interaction. Every space, every surface, every volume can be an interface and we can now track triggers that activate these interfaces and translate them into effective changes in the environment. A touch of the finger, a gesture, a sound, weight, objects, movement – all of these things can activate highly choreographed movement using these incredible platforms.
An amazing artistic expression of these ideas is Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Pulse Park project in New York City's Madison Square.
A matrix of light beams across the park were modulated by sensors that measured the heart rate of participants.
The park, and its heart beat, became a visual expression of its own pulse – literally!
The possibilities are only limited by our imagination.
Tali Krakowsky, Director of Experience Design, heads a think tank at WET. Working closely with design, research and production, she focuses on developing new ideas, technologies and business opportunities for the short- and long-term future of the firm.