touch_logo3.gifTouch is a research project that investigates Near Field Communication (NFC), a technology that enables connections between mobile phones and physical things. Touch is not about music or anything musical at this point. Based at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Norway, this project is developing applications and services that enable people to interact with everyday objects and situations through their mobile devices. There are musical potentials here.

Touch consists of an inter-disciplinary team involved in social and cultural inquiry, interaction/industrial design, rapid prototyping, software, testing and exhibitions.

RFID and NFC: RFID is currently regarded as the replacement for barcodes in logistics and supply chain management. It is also becoming widely used for contactless ticketing, credit cards, animal tracking and e-passports. But a new set of applications and services are opening up as NFC (a new standard based on RFID) is integrated into mobile phones. Commercial applications for NFC are predicted to include ticketing, payments and service discovery, where these things can be achieved with a simple ‘touch’ of the mobile device.

But Touch is not just about incremental innovations to existing infrastructures; the technology offers many unexplored opportunities. The simple integration of tags into everyday things and places, the low-cost of NFC components and the adaptiveness of the NFC specifications are all examples of the ways in which this technology promises to be ubiquitous. These opportunities suggest that many other applications and services will be built around the technology, and that ‘touch’ may well become part of everyday life in unexpected ways.

Touch interactions: NFC and ‘contactless’ systems are intended to be easy to use for everyday transactions, the interaction is carried out with a simple ‘touch’, ‘swipe’ or ‘tap’. By using these simple actions, NFC puts a sense of human control back into otherwise complex and unwieldy ubiquitous systems. Touch is a natural, expressive gesture and can be used to create satisfying interactions. There is a rich history of industrial design, ergonomic and human factors research that can be used in the design of these systems.

Touch-interactions are significant culturally and socially; our sense of touch is a large part of the way we understand and affect the world. Touch carries meaning and this changes according to context, situation and culture. The project explores these contexts through social, cultural and ethnographic research. This cross-disciplinary research will be used as a resource for further design and prototyping.

The project will run until 2009. It is funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

Tou can contact them at:
hello at nearfield dot org

Aug 29, 2007
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