A digital window at work brings in the outdoors
A UO graduate student is recognized in a competition seeking open source electronics from development to production.
UO architecture graduate student Jeffrey Stattler was awarded $250 for being a finalist in the 2011 WyoLum Innovation Grant competition for his VirtualIntervention project, which aims to connect people in windowless spaces to the outdoor environment by addressing the common problem of windowlessness with a live electronic substitute.
“Many people are obliged to work in windowless spaces on a daily basis,” Stattler said. “Lack of natural stimuli not only disorients their sense of time, but it has also been shown to reduce attention and productivity.”
Stattler notes that occupants of windowless rooms often attempt to reconnect with nature by posting pictures and posters at work and bringing in plants. “These have been shown to help” he says, “but they lack any real-time connection to the world outside. I am proposing to reconnect the occupants of windowless spaces with microcontrollers and environmental sensors to make variations in the wind and rain outside visible to those inside—in essence digitally performing the role of a window.”
The proposed project will provide a visual connection to natural movement outside via a weather meter outside the building that wirelessly transmits information to the windowless spaces, where it is interpreted into movement by a microcontroller and motor.
Above: A snapshot of the tree animation that will be projected on the wall.
“Finding ways to successfully interface real and virtual space is becoming increasing important,” says architecture Professor Kevin Nute. “I believe Jeff's work is a really good example of this, and clearly others think so too. The work and the WyoLum award demonstrate great ingenuity and initiative.”
The grant monies will go toward purchase of the weather sensors, wireless transmitters, and micro controllers.
“I have always been interested in controlled interaction, whether it is between the human and computer, human and building, or in this case, human and the environment, through the building,” Stattler says. He was introduced to microcontroller boards as a digital arts minor and since then “have been experimenting with sensors and trying integrate this technology in an architectural context. The focus of my current master’s thesis is effectiveness of the sensors as a means of electronically mediating natural change. I would like to integrate the explorations from this grant with this research.”
An all-volunteer organization, WyoLum’s mission is to promote open source electronics. Its annual competition seeks entries that are “100% open source from development through production. We want to take Do-It-Yourself to the next level of efficiency by creating a collaboration platform where guerrilla ‘engineering-and-design’ teams can emerge for the duration of a project, solve a problem, disband and move on to the next project with the main goal of having fun in learning and developing as many cool and interesting projects as we can,” the website states. More information is at http://wyolum.com/