Extending Smart Devices

Try to imagine a life without sharing. You probably can’t. Sharing has become an essential part of mankind. We always did it and nowadays even more than ever. Sharing digital media has become second nature for most of us. Throughout the day, we interact a lot with media in the cloud without even noticing it. Everywhere we go, we are able to listen to millions of songs, watch thousands of movies, or work with our own files without dragging around terabytes worth of hard disks.

Our smart devices are the center within this system: our laptops, tablets and smartphones. All these devices are connected to an abstract cloud, which is actually nothing more than a data center somewhere in the world. The question is not why we use the cloud, but how we use it. The cloud has become an essential part of our workflows, but not of our natural behavior. Can we come up with new ways of interacting with this cloud and to share digital media with others in such a way, that it becomes an integral part of our daily routines?

The three-month design project ‘Unify’ was part of the first-years Master’s program of the department of Industrial Design, and focused on new ways of sharing digital media by making the cloud more feasible to users. ‘Unify’ aims to link our smart devices together in a way that they are truly an extension of each other. To achieve this, devices need to know their relative position, to connect them in a much more intuitive way. In this way, you can share your music with someone else by just swiping a song from one screen to the other. It becomes way easier to share files during a meeting. Or you can establish a link between a shopping cart and your credit card.