Andreas Refsgaard: “А shift from a passive consumer to an active, playful director of domestic technology”

Andreas Refsgaard

Andreas Refsgaard is an interaction designer from Denmark. He graduated from CIID in 2015 and is now running Copenhagen based creative coding studio Støj with fellow CIID alumnus Lasse Korsgaard. Recently Andreas has been exploring artistic applications of machine learning and teaching other designers how to use machine learning for real-time interactive projects.

How do you imagine the future of the material world? Will it be interactive? Please, give us a few examples that prove you point of view.

I’m actually a quite crappy designer when it comes to working with physical materials and doing work in the lab, so I might not be the best at forecasting the future of the material world. But here goes:

In interviews like these you often see people talking about future without screens, but I still don’t see that coming any time soon. Screens will take other forms, be transparent, bendable or embedded into wearables.

What I do however imagine is a future, where physical objects can be individually trained to respond to unique inputs. I hope we will see a shift from closed top-down “smart” systems to open user-defined trainable objects.

One example that supports this scenario is Bjørn Karmanns wonderful project Objectifier. Objectifier empowers people to train objects in their daily environment to respond to their unique behaviours. By utilising the power of computer vision and machine learning the project shows how objects can be trained to respond to the physical space around it. When the space itself become the program, then the objects, walls, lights, people and actions all become part of the program. I think it hints toward a future with a shift from a passive consumer to an active, playful director of domestic technology.

Bjørn Karmanns Objectifier

What have you learned about education process while working with AI and teaching interactive design?

I’ve seen how machine learning can be a shortcut for creating rich interactive experiments and getting non-techy designers interested in computers. Last week I did a guest lecture at the School for Performing Arts in Copenhagen where none of the students had any prior experience with coding. But the idea of training interactions instead of coding them felt quite natural to the students, and they were coming up with a lot of cool ideas while training simple systems. By training systems rather than coding them, people see opportunities and iterate faster based on experiencing and performing the interactions, contrary to having specific ideas and struggling to make the code perform as intended.

Made by Andreas Refsgaard and Gene Kogan at Nabi AI Hackathon 2016 in Seoul.

Which skills will be in demand in the future?

Machine Learning, creativity, the ability to curate and combine ideas and designs coming from algorithms rather than humans.

How do you imagine the future of tech industry with all new tools that make music production easier?

I honestly don’t know. Big industries have their own logics.


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