Hannah Perner-Wilson's beautiful paper speakers

[gallery]Hannah Perner-Wilson of Plusea has been exploring some amazingly beautiful sensors at MIT's media lab that explore paper and ink-jet printed electronics. I particularly love these paper speakers and how she is challenging the aesthetics of the circuit patterning:

"Inspired by Marcelo Coehlo’s paper speaker and Vincent Leclerc’s Accouphene textile speaker, these paper and fabric speakers are made by running 5-9V amplified sound signal through a very conductive coil in close proximity to a magnet. Unlike most speakers that have the wire coil wrapped cylindrically and placed around the magnet, here the coil is in the plane and directly adhered to the membrane that moves the air creating sound." Continue reading ...

Wallets help you manage your money

[gallery] Researchers at MIT's media lab are exploring ways in which technology can be embedded into our wallets to help us manage our spending habits.

"The widespread adoption of credit and debit cards means, for many people, the cashless society is already a reality. However, this means the simple system of checking how much cash you’ve got in your wallet before making a purchase is no longer an accurate reflection of your finances, making it all too easy to succumb to temptation and overextend yourself financially. The Proverbial Wallet project at MIT is looking at “un-abstracting virtual assets” with wallets that provide tactile feedback that reflects a person’s current financial state."

There are three concepts:

  1. Bumblebee. A wallet that uses a vibrating motor to ‘buzz’ whenever the bank processes a transaction on the user’s account
  2. Mother Bear. A wallet designed to promote saving featuring a hinge that keeps the wallet shut tight when the user goes over budget
  3. Peacock. A wallet that grows and shrinks relative to the user’s bank balance

Here how it works:

Continue reading on Gizmag. Images from Gizmag.

Touch-Sensitive Apparel

Yasmine Abbas and Cati Vaucelle are currently working on a project called Touch-Sensitive. Through their low-fidelity prototypes, they are asking the question: "What if objects that people carry with them and even carry on them could offer this sensory comfort that they seem to seek? ... Touch·Sensitive allows the diffusion of tactile information through computational and mechanical technologies. It is a computerized touch therapy apparel whose modular pieces can be integrated within the clothing... [and] provides individuals with a sensory cocoon."

What intrigues me about this investigation is that they aim to seamlessly integrate the technology directly into the fabrics so that it's hidden but functional. The technology then informs the aesthetics of both form and behavior, without feeling like an add-on.