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Gestures typically used to control devices such as smartphones are mirrored in the stretchy fabric surface of this kinetic installation by University of Southern California student Behnaz Farahi.

Breathing Wall 2.0 is an interactive kinetic wall that Farahi produced for the iMAPpening exhibition of students work at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, where she is an Annenberg Fellow and PhD student.

The original version of the Breathing Wall concept was developed for an exhibition last year and is intended to demonstrate how sensor-based technologies could be used to control the physical shape of our surroundings in the future.

"Mobile devices already use techniques based on touch and gesture-based languages – swiping, clicking, dragging and so on – as a natural, intuitive mechanism of control," said Farahi. "But can these techniques be used to control entire environments?"

The installation consists of a screen made from elasticated Spandex fabric stretched over a wooden frame that conceals several curved aluminium rods.

The hinged movement of the rods is controlled by shape memory alloy springs connected to an Arduino microprocessor that receives information about the actions of the user from a motion-sensing computer-game controller.

Gestures like swiping, tapping and drawing a circle in the air with a hand are picked up by the Leap Motion Controller, prompting the mechanism behind the surface to shift and produce a pattern of curving contours that mimics each movement.

"In the future it may even be possible to design a direct interface which allows users to interact with their environments without any intermediary mechanism," the designer added. "Such interfaces will make control of our physical environment much easier."


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