Disseny Hub Barcelona—making tech accessible

As I explore the city of Barcelona, I'm fascinated by the ease with which the city can be navigated. It's more than the ample bike lanes and easy transit options—it appears to be cultural as well. While wandering towards the Picasso Museum with a friend, I happened upon Disseny Hub Barcelona (DHUB). This design center featured a number of fascinating exhibits on systems design and machine senses—all focused on making interaction with systems and technology more human-friendly. 

There were two primary exhibits at the space focusing on innovative approaches to human interaction with tech:

Disseny de sistemes. Escola d’Eindhoven (English translation)

Industrial [systems] design affects our lives deeply—from the interactions we have with our cyborgian appliances, like smartphones, to the less-flashy but deeply important interactions between children and their toys or mothers and their breastmilk pumps. The DHUB exhibit is a selection of projects by the Department of Industrial Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. They have a great video explaining pieces of their work.

The I/O/I moniker for DHUB's exhbit refers to the critical design focus on a feedback loop. Typically, I/O refers to input/output, as with the input of a user manipulating a mouse, "Augmented Shadow" by Joon Yong Moon (2010, South Korea)and the ouput of a display. I/O/I adds a second I, signifying an input back into a system, creating interaction. I was surprised to find almost every piece in the exhibit invited touch or movement, often in intuitive ways, like a table which rendered shadows based on the location of cubes placed on it.

Perhaps the most novel element of the exhibition was the staffed laboratory, where I met a number of researchers and assistants, including a PhD candidate working on diversity in innovative technology, Susanna Tesconi. She explained how to program Arduino circuitboards (easy-to-use, pre-soldered boards loved by the Maker movement) and then all but insisted I try for myself. 

I'm looking forward to going back to DHUB this week to interview Susanna and the rest of her team to find out about the hackerspaces throughout the city, how the DHUB exhibitions are being received, and her interesting research. Stay tuned!