Venous Materials envisions a new way to design dynamic tangible interactions using fluidic mechanisms. We are inspired by venous structures that are ubiquitous throughout nature and inside the human body. By changing its colors, veins can inform us of internal and external physical conditions. For example, veins in leaves transmit pigments that drive color change which informs us of the leaf’s internal condition, and also which season it is. When we press firmly on a button, the tip of our finger changes its color - this subtle color change can be used as an indicator to inform us of the amount of applied pressure.
While computer chips and electronics usually require rigid and bulky components, Venous Materials is a soft and self contained mechanism that utilizes mechanical activities as its energy source. Through research with microfluidics technology, we developed an approach for designing, simulating and prototyping fluidic interactive sensors that can be embedded in or attached to any object. We propose a wide spectrum of exciting potential applications by integrating Venous Materials in everyday scenarios: Venous Materials embedded in clothing to visualize on-body motion, pressure and balance, and attached to objects, to enrich learning activities, to augment dynamic graphics and to indicate conditions of package delivery and content.
We see Venous Materials as an important paradigm for Human Computer Interactions and as a first step towards the integration of interactive fluidic mechanisms as embedded sensors and tangible user interfaces. The most rewarding aspect of this project for us is that it lays down the ground principles and fertilizer for the growth of additional research within this realm.
Hila Mor, Tianyu Yu, Ken Nakagaki, Benjamin Harvey Miller, Yichen Jia, Hiroshi Ishii
Project page: tangible.media.mit.edu/project/venous-materials/
MIT Media Lab
Tangible Media Group