Robocop in the Greens
Why can't your average forest-walk be as exciting as the latest David Attenborough flick? Last week Unsworn Industries brought fuel to Region Skåne's workshop to fire up new ideas on technology-augmented nature experiences.
Seminar in the sticks
Our poor human senses miss out on a lot of the exciting stuff that goes on in nature. Our hearing is weak and our vision is limited. We often lack the knowledge on where to direct our attention. New technologies could bring more natural phenomena within reach of our experience-organs.
Region Skåne (The regional council of Southern Sweden) sees a great potential for innovative products and services on this theme, and decided to organise a full-day seminar, inviting ICT-companies, tourism representatives, park-attendants and many more from Southern Sweden.
Unsworn Industries was hired to host a concept development session in the field. For this, we developed and demonstrated a series of functional, inspiring prototypes, conducted a mind-boggling lunch lecture and facilitated an intense idea workshop on site in the woods of central Skåne.
For the seminar Unsworn Research developed a series of tools for technology-augmented nature experiences. These were prepared on site by Snogeholmssjön. Erik and Magnus took the seminar-participants on a guided tour where they could try out, experience and discuss the various prototypes.
The concepts were chosen to be inspiring, provocative and to involve different senses, technologies, and situations. They were crafted to act as fruitful points of departure for the participants’ own reflections and idea-processes, regarding experience, technology and business models.
Discovery and BBC have spoilt us with nature action. We’re used to get close up and personal with the animals. The Burrow Surveillance kit offers a way to peek into shy badgers or foxes in their dens, even without the nature-filmer’s professional equipment and patience.
A number of battery-powered surveillance cameras are placed in and outside the den. The cameras wirelessly transmit video to a portable receiver screen which the visitor brings with her. The visitor can observe the activity in the den from a distance, without disturbing the animals. With the flick of a switch the visitor can select a camera or choose to automatically jump between cameras.
The Anthill Radio system consists of a battery-powered radio station: contact microphones are buried in an anthill (after asking permission from the inhabitants) and connected to a short-range transmitter. Visitors can tune in to 100.0 FM to listen in on the curious, milling life of busy ants. The visitors can use any radio receiver, for example an FM-equipped mobile phone with headphones.
The Robocop-o-scope is made up of a hand-held, electronic mini-microscope and a pair of video-goggles. When wearing the goggles you can explore your surroundings amplified a hundred times. Using the Robocop-o-scope is an immersive (possibly nauseating) experience. Tiny movements of the microscopic hand takes your eyes on a dramatic voyage through an otherwise invisible terrain.
We consider it a bonus feature that Robocop-o-scope users in action are quite spectacular to observe themselves.
Do we need more video goggles on our quiet walks through the woods?
While field-testing the prototypes in nearby forests we’ve encountered numerous, bird-watchers, botanists, strollers, and flower-pickers urging us: “Please don’t bring technology out here! We come here to escape all the stress and tech from the city.” Interestingly enough, these nature-lovers were themselves augmented with everything from glasses to loupes, binoculars, cell-phones-with-the-latest-bird-sighting-sms-system, digital cameras, and wheelchairs.
It seems new technology needs a few years of quiet ageing before it’s accepted and assimilated into the nature-user’s arsenal and becomes… natural.
Enjoy these visuals from the seminar and sweaty preparations: