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computer seems to be utilized as to what happened to mechanics in the second machine age, they become ordinary and penetrate into every object of our daily lives. They present as an example the “furby” toy, a cute small teddy stuffed with sensors. Simple Artificial Intelligence (AI) software enables the furby to learn up to 1000 English words and sentences. It is also capable of mediating a sort of feelings in response to a hug or a tickle. With the appearance of the furby, independent web sites emerged informing how to hack it and extend it with new software. By this example Grønback & Krogh demonstrate that the cultural and the aesthetic premises of design has changed especially when objects of design can no longer be regarded as solitary entities but as artefacts which are comprised with activities mediated by networks and direct human manipulation.

Although Grønback & Krogh prefer the notion pervasive in my opinion they are talking more about Physical Computing. Their argument is about the utilized computer that penetrates into everyday objects. Talking about the “furby” they refer to an autonomous physical artefact that can be extended with new software. It’s about computation that moves beyond the traditional confines of the desk and attempts to incorporate itself into our experience of the physical world.

At this point I would like to underline the difference between Physical Computing and Mixed Reality. By definition MR is about the integration of digital information onto a real world scene in such a way that digital information appears to be attached to physical objects. If one wants to experience an MR application, he/she must use either a see-through head display or a video display in order to achieve this integration of the real with the physical. Physical Computing is about the distribution of computation across tangible physical artefacts that are spread throughout the physical environment. For one to experience a physical computing application

Physical Computing:

Using Everyday Objects as Communication tools

Fig. 8 A “Furby toy [source:http://xenia.media.mit.edu/~kelly/Furb y/anatomy/THE_FURBY_HQ.htm]

Fig. 9 Furby’s speaker and tummy sensor [source: ibid]

Fig. 10 Cross section of the Furby’s eye [source: ibid]


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