Open or closed. The information transmitted by a door is rather limited! A team of master’s students in multimedia design from Laval University have redesigned this commonplace domestic element to make it a communication tool with interactive interface, like a giant iPad that would allow them to manage the delicate situations of colocation.
The concept of Caroline Laroche, Serge Pelletier, Benoît Rochon and Joëlle Sasseville won them first prize at an annual international design competition which took place in Austin, Texas, in early May. The competition takes place during the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), a major conference on the interaction between humans and machines. The theme this year: how to improve the domestic experience?
The Quebec team has chosen to tackle a problem close to the reality of local students: privacy when living in a shared flat.
The room has been clearly established as a personal area to be protected, a “sacred place”. The door is the limit of this private bubble, underlines Serge Pelletier. “We wanted to redefine the limit by making it a means of communication”, in a slightly intrusive manner.
Break the first barrier
The project was named Shoji, in reference to this partition made of rice paper that lets light through traditional Japanese architecture. In fact, the Quebec Shoji door has a tactile interface on both sides. “The door is no longer just open or closed, it transmits information as needed.” It scrolls a vertical timeline on which the occupant has determined periods according to the level of privacy required, using a code colors.
From the inside, you can also see a plan of the apartment with the “status” of the other rooms. If, for example, a roommate plays the guitar a little too loud, the student who needs concentration could send him a light signal to let him know of this inconvenience. The warning is intended to be gentle and respectful, underlines Mr. Pelletier.