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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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ReFashion Lab – Smart Studio

  • On October 26, 2005

The ReFashion Lab is a concrete example of how architectural space and interactive media can be combined to create new types of interaction.

The ReFashion Lab can be understood as a spatial media interface to information and ambience, addressing various senses in a personalised way. The novelty is the ubiquity of the technology in the space, without involving the visitor in complicated, technical ways of interacting with the technology. Instead the modes of interaction are modelled on existing notions of exploring an environment, like a fashion store.

Technology events in the ReFashion Lab can therefore be understood as an augmentation, or extension of existing real-world experiences. Physical space, artefacts and visitors are essentially joined into new conceptual entities through the use of digital media in a location and time specific, interactive context.

The prototype space offered an opportunity to assess those possible new relationships between people, interactive media and physical world.

The part of the project I most like is MetaMirror built but Tomato Interactive (UK). The MetaMirror is a special installation, overlaying natural reflections with digital media imagery and information.

It plugs into a special media infrastructure, linking space, artefact and media into one entity. The system operating behind the enabled space is able to identify and locate specific items being carried inside. It can then react automatically with a variety of custom events.
This works by tagging the fashion items with a special radio chip, that allows the individual items to be recognised in the space. If a visitor is wearing the item, the space can therefore react with custom experiences relating to the behaviour and movement of the individual.

The MetaMirror is a large scale animated display, that features a video clip looping over the entire surface of the Mirror. Once a visitor is approaching the display, the animation is faded out to turn the pane into a real mirror. Above the persons reflection though, the mirror is showing images and information relating to the item being worn. The material effect of linking reflection and projection into one image is produced by using a special semi-transparent mirror with a strong back projection.

The cognitive issue of linking the presented information event with the artefact carried by the visitor is a challenge to interaction design, but also opens an interesting debate on the further scope of these application in other contexts.

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