Impact! Exhibition: “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?” images & video clips

March 29th, 2010

The Impact! Exhibition catalogue (see previous post) included the following description of Nicolas Myers’ design – “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?” – inspired by the Fair Tracing project:

“If the surface of a product could react and reveal its composition, how would it tell its story? What is it made of? Where has it been? Inspired by the way the natural world communicates, this design project envisions an alternative to labels and packaging: a living skin, translating consumer information into patterns, smells or textures. In the same way a fruit tells us about its nature, could products themselves inform us of their ethical credentials in an immediate and physical way?”

The "Does It Smell Like Fair Trade" exhibit on opening night. In conversation are Dr Apurba Kundu, principle investigator of the Fair Tracing project, and Professor Tim Unwin, a member of the project's advisory board.

Guests taking a closer look at the "Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?" exhibit on opening night.

These thoughts were represented by a table on which were placed eight generic objects wholly covered in white. This allowed moving images to be projected onto each item in turn, showing how the item’s “skin” could reveal information over time. At the same time, written text was projected onto the table to illustrate just how complex the information represented might be in the future. Note that, while the exhibit represented information visually, in the future information might also be conveyed by changes in the smell or texture of a product’s skin.

Here are a series of short video clips (all in mp4 format) of the “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?” exhibit taken on a quieter day at the Impact! Exhibition (any ambient sounds you hear are coming from other exhibits):
EPSRC have also reported that discussions are currently underway to have the Impact! Exhibition displayed elsewhere. Watch this space!

Impact! Exhibition: “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?” catalogue entry

March 29th, 2010

The Impact! Exhibition catalogue contains a two-page entry for each design project; the first gives a very brief description of the research project which inspired the design, while the second shows a preliminary illustration of the design.

Immediately below is the two-page entry for the “Does it Smell Like Fair Trade?” design inspired by the Fair Tracing project. (Click on the image to get a larger size, and then on the larger size to get the full, original image.)

A description of the Fair Tracing Research project:

Project 3: "Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?" catalogue text entry

“It’s a familiar dilemma for shoppers. How do you know exactly what you’re buying? Where supposedly ethically produced goods are concerned, how can you tell precisely where your hard-earned money goes and how much ends up with the producer?

‘Fair tracing’ digital tagging systems could provide the answers. It may soon be possbile to access the back story of any product, simply by pointing your mobile phone at a special barcode. Instantly, a world of dtat would be dispatched to your mobile, covering every stage of the chain linking producer and consumer — and enabling you to make genuinely informed purchasing decisions.

This research hasn’t just underlined the viability of such technology. It has also identified the kinds of data that producers in developing countries can realistically provide.”

A description of the designer’s inspiration:

"Colour, smell, texture -- could products communicate their ethical credentials in an immediate and physical way"

“If the surface of a product could react and reveal its composition, how would it tell its story? What is it made of? Where has it been? Inspired by the way the natural world communicates, this design project envisions an alternative to labels and packaging: a living skin, translating consumer information into patterns, smells or textures. In the same way a fruit tells us about its nature, could products themselves inform us of their ethical credentials in an immediate and physical way?”

Impact! Exhibition: media mentions

March 23rd, 2010

The Impact! Exhibition (now closed) at the Royal College of Art included the Fair Tracing project design exhibit “Smells Like Fair Trade”, as well as other exhibits inspired by 15 other projects chosen from among thousands of EPSRC bids.

Media reports of the Impact! Exhibition — which, sadly, do not specifically refer to “Smells Like Fair Trade” — include:

and an audio interview by

Impact! Exhibition: media mentions of “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?” and/or the Fair Tracing project

March 22nd, 2010

The Impact! Exhibition (now closed) at the Royal College of Art generated numerous mentions of the Fair Tracing project-inspired exhibit “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?”   in the media. Some are included below (with specific related text in italics):

‘Sound separator’ among gadgets unveiled at UK show
Martha Linden and Ben Winstanley, AFP
Wednesday, 17th March 2010

A futuristic vision of gadgets that can home in on birdsong in the inner city, cameras that capture parallel universes and even bags of coffee which change colour as they gather air miles was unveiled today as part of a new science and design show.

The ideas were put forward among 16 projects mounted in the Impact! exhibition bringing together Royal College of Art graduate designers working with scientists and other academic specialists throughout the UK…

Other exhibits on show included the Fair Tracing project where researchers have examined the use of digital technology to track and trace products such as coffee and wine from the producer to the supermarket shelves.

Apurba Kundu, of Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, said the design project put forward a futuristic vision of products with a “living skin” translating consumer information into patterns, smells or textures.

He said: “The skin would change like fruit and you would get that instant feed-back in the way that you get from melons or tomatoes.”

The exhibition is the first of its kind between the funding agency for science and engineering, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, and the RCA…

Anthony Dunne, head of design interactions at the RCA, said the show was a collaboration between “very creative people and very creative scientists”.

He said: “We hope that it will show how designers can participate in science research, not just by focusing on the marketing end of things but by being involved in the conceptual research side.”

Helen Bailey, of the EPSRC and project manager for the exhibition, said she hoped it would attract a new audience and communicate to people the value, importance and excitement of current scientific research.

See full article at: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20100317/business/sound-separator-among-gadgets-unveiled-at-uk-show

and
Sound separator among show gadgets (UKPA)

A futuristic vision of gadgets that can home in on birdsong in the inner city, cameras that capture parallel universes and even bags of coffee which change colour as they gather air miles has been unveiled as part of a new science and design show.

The ideas were put forward amongst 16 projects mounted in the Impact! exhibition bringing together Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate designers working with scientists and other academic specialists throughout the UK…

Other exhibits on show included the Fair Tracing project where researchers have examined the use of digital technology to track and trace products such as coffee and wine from the producer to the supermarket shelves.

Entrance to the exhibition is free and open to the public until March 21 from 11am to 5.30pm at the RCA, Kensington Gore, London.

and

Lie detector to fight smugglers and terrorists
WalesOnline.co.uk

…The system will be shown this week at the Impact! exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London, which runs until Sunday.

The exhibition will visualise the potential impact of scientific developments from the across the UK and examine how they might affect how we live in a future Britain.

Among the gadgets on show will be machines that can home in on birdsong amid the din of the inner city, a scheme to combine wind, wave and sun energy in one energy converter, and even bags of coffee which use digital technology to change the packaging’s colour as they gather air miles.

See full article at: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/cardiffonline/cardiff-news/2010/03/17/lie-detector-to-fight-smugglers-and-terrorists-91466-26049221/

and

Fair Trade at your fingertips
19 March 2010 Royal Holloway, University of London

A radical project, managed by Dr Dorothea Kleine, of the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, which would enable shoppers to access the ethical credentials of products at their fingertips, has been selected from thousands of projects to be showcased at a special exhibition.

The interdisciplinary ‘Fair Tracing’ Project is one of 16 projects from Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) grants to be included in the EPSRC Impact! Exhibition, taking place at the Royal College of Art, London, between March 16 and March 21.

The Fair Tracing concept brought together researchers from Royal Holloway, Sheffield Hallam University, Anglia Ruskin University and Oxford Internet Institute, who envisioned a digital tagging system that could provide the answers to the dilemmas faced by shoppers about where the goods they are buying come from and how much of their money ends up with the producer.

The idea is that simply by pointing your mobile at the normal barcode at the back of a product, modern smartphones can read the code, link to the internet and connect to information covering every stage of the chain linking the producer of the goods right through to the consumer – enabling people to make more informed decisions on what they are purchasing.

Engineering and physical sciences research has huge impact on the economy, on public policy, on culture, and on our everyday lives but it often goes unnoticed by the general public. To communicate the impact of the research EPSRC fund, the Research Council is working with NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and the Department of Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art (RCA), to co-ordinate an exhibition of original design proposals which explore the relationship between science and society, looking at the different types of impact engineering and the physical sciences have on the world.

In preparation for the exhibition, designers worked with the scientists from each project to develop an object reflecting on future impacts of technology. “We really enjoyed working with our designer, Nicolas Myers,” says Dr Kleine, “We are an action research project so we had a good idea what we wanted the technology to do. Nicolas came at it from a very different angle and his exhibit imagines how we can do away with even the mobile phone screen and embed information directly in the surface of the object. That really pushes beyond what is currently feasible and maybe even desirable. But it sure generates debate around the exhibit and our project. It speaks to a different audience than the hardcore ethical shoppers we have mostly been working with.”

Source: http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=70979&CultureCode=en

Unfortunately, the Impact! Exhibition is now closed, but more posts will be put up shortly giving more details and images about the Fair Tracing project design exhibit “Smells Like Fair Trade”.

Impact! Exhibition opens with “Does It Smell Like Fair Trade?” exhibit

March 16th, 2010

The Impact! Exhibition poster

The Impact! Exhibition – featuring  the Fair Tracing project-inspired “Does It Smell like Fair Trade?” exhibit – has now opened at the Royal College of Art (RCA), London.  The exhibition is free and open to the public in the RCA’s Darwin building from 1100-1730 from Tuesday to Sunday, 16-21 March 2010. Follow this link to a map.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) collaborate with the RCA Design Interactions department to create an exhibition that sees 16 designers teamed up with groups of EPSRC funded researchers from Universities across the UK [selected from a shortlist of projects from the entire EPSRC remit of thousands of grants]. The mixed media exhibition will explore the relationship between science and society and will show how research is making a huge impact on our everyday lives, such as healthcare, crime prevention and climate change. Participating designers include Onkar Kular, Noam Toran, James Auger and Revital Cohen.

L-R: Dr Dorothea Kleine, Dr Ann Light, Nicolas Myers, Dr Apurba

On Monday, Fair Tracing’s pricipal investigator Dr Apurba Kundu fielded interviews from a number of media outlets (details will be blogged as they are published) in the morning, and attended the Gala Opening in the evening along with co-investigator Dr Ann Light, research fellow Dr Dorothea Kleine and designer Nicolas Myers (see his other work here), and hundreds of guests from academia, industry and the media. (Unfortunately, co-investigator Dr Ian Brown could not attend.)

“Does it smell like Fair Trade?”

Additional photos of the “Does It Smell Like Faire Trade?” exhibit will be blogged as they become available, but a sneak preview of the work appears to the left.

Do be sure to visit the exhibition!

Fair Tracing has second meeting with designer

January 19th, 2010

L-R: Nicolas Myers, Dr Dorothea Kleine, Dr Ann Light, Dr Apurba

On Friday, 15 January 2010, Fair Tracing project team members Dr Apurba Kundu, Dr Dorothea Kleine and Dr Ann Light met again with Nicolas Myers, the designer who selected our project as his inspiration for his contribution to the EPSRC Impact! Exhibition.

The grand surroundings of the British Museum’s Great Court lent an inspirational air to our discussions about how Nicolas understood our research project, including its founding ethical concerns, and what particular aspect(s) he might focus on to motivate his own artistic design. Nicolas also described some very interesting ideas as to how his work will be presented at the Impact! Exhibition.

To see the results for yourself, be sure to visit the the Royal College of Art, London, from 16-21 March 2010.

Fair Tracing in the news (and legal application?)

January 18th, 2010

The latest news about the Fair Tracing project was reported in a brief “Fair Tracing project chosen for Impact! Exhibition” article by principle investigator Dr Apurba Kundu that appeared in the Anglia Ruskin University Bulletin of January 2010, 7:1, p 9.

The appearance of the article has already led to a colleague in the Anglia Law School contacting Apurba to see if the project’s research outcomes are relevant to the rule of nemo dat quod non habet (i.e., that no one can pass title to goods they do not already have), and its potential solution via unique identification marks on goods, thereby allowing a chain of title to be validated. Watch this space!

New Fair Tracing article accepted for publication

January 18th, 2010

Fair Tracing co-investigator Dr Ann Light has just had her paper, “Barriers to Bridging: Can we cross Global Divides with Trac(k)ing Technology?”, accepted for publication in a special issue on “Labelling the World” of the IEEE journal Pervasive Computing. As she writes:

Product tracking technology is increasingly available to big players in the value chain which connects producers to consumers, giving them new competitive advantages. Such shifts in technology do not benefit small producers, and especially those in developing regions, to the same degree. This paper looks at the practicalities of trying to level the playing field by making a form of tracing technology available for any producer to use. In doing so, it goes beyond considering engineering solutions to examine what happens in the context of use, reporting on work with partners in Chile and India and reflecting on the potential for impact on business and community wellbeing. Reporting on the results of the “Fair Tracing” project, the paper argues that a generic trac(k)ing tool for use with the different commerce systems employed across developing regions is not likely to be useful as such. It concludes with some insights into the tensions that arise in designing a viable socio-technical system around this type of tool and considers what the wider implications may be.

We will keep readers informed as to when the publication appears.

Fair Tracing goes to the Impact! Exhibition Participant Workshop

December 2nd, 2009
A quiet moment during the workshop

A quiet moment during the workshop

Fair Tracing principle investigator Dr Apurba Kundu attended the Impact! Exhibition Particpant Workshop hosted in London by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) on 1 December 2009. A brief video of the day is available at http://vimeo.com/9126124

Unfortunately, Nicolas Myers, the designer working with Fair Tracing on the Impact! Exhibition, was unable to attend due to illness. However, he did submit his initial thoughts on how he would represent an aspect of the project.

While the text is available on the Impact! Exhibition social network site at http://impact-art.ning.com/, the visual presentation remains private at this time. Suffice to say that the project management team is very impressed with his take on our research, and very much looks forward to assisting Nicolas in any way we can to realise this work for the Impact! Exhibition to be held from 16-21 March 2010 at the Royal College of Art, London.

Fair Tracing project chosen for EPSRC Impact! Exhibition

November 29th, 2009

The Fair Tracing project has been selected from among thousands of EPSRC grants to be included in the EPSRC Impact! Exhibition that will take place at the Royal College of Art, London from 16-21 March 2010. As stated in communications from EPSRC:

Engineering and physical sciences research has huge impact on the economy, on public policy, on culture, and on our everyday lives.  However, the value of scientific research is not always communicated effectively to the general public – and often it can seem abstract or complex.

To communicate the impact of the research we fund, EPSRC is working with NESTA [National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts] and the Department of Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art [RCA], to co-ordinate a mixed media exhibition of original design proposals which explore the relationship between science and society, looking at the different types of impact engineering and the physical sciences have on the world.

[The RCA and EPSRC] compiled a shortlist of projects from the entire EPSRC remit (thousands of grants), of about 30 projects. The designers were then offered this list and chose the one that interested them the most. The designers will be exploring the possible social, political, economic, cultural and ethical implications of the research.

The primary audience [at the Impact! Exhibition] will be the general public, but also the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, other government departments, Ministers, business leaders and others… EPSRC will also use the Impact! Exhibition as a resource for producing print and online material which will ensure we can communicate the impacts of your research to an even wider audience.

Meeting

Left-right: Nicolas Myers, Dr Dorothea Kleine, Dr Ann Light, Dr Apurba Kundu

Three members of the Fair Tracing management team met with designer Nicolas Myers in October to discuss our project in depth. Nicolas, who graduated from the Design Interactions course of the RCA, also has an MA in graphic design from the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and a degree in computer science from the Pierre & Marie Curie University, Paris.

Nicolas Myers’s work, greatly influenced by his studies in graphic design and computer sciences, investigates the implications of digital technology through the filter of design. In a context where almost all physical objects, living organisms and phenomena are described in a digital manner his projects question the neutrality of these representations, while focusing on aesthetic and visual representations and interactive experiences.

We are next scheduled to attend an Impact! Exhibition full day workshop in London on 1 December with members from the other selected projects and their designers. It promises to be a most interesting day!