CrossLab — Sensory Shopping

Investigating the power of senses, shopping and new media

Steampunk…another approach to new media

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on June 24, 2008

Jake von Slatt is a Steampunk artist.  What exactly is that?

Steampunk is a vintage approach to new media, similar to the concept that Wendy, Dennis, Jeroen and Sharon (3DC) have taken.  It is a return to the future, in a sense.  Taking into account the inventive days of Victorian times, where the future machines and their aesthetic appeal took precendence.  Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia…

Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction which came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement (though both have considerable influence on each other). Apart from time period and level of technological development, the main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk is that steampunk settings usually tend to be less obviously dystopian than cyberpunk, or lack dystopian elements entirely.

Here, a photo of a laptop made in Steampunk fashion.  Something I personally think is quite interesting is the idea that it presents the notion of an alternate path, or a road that could have been taken.  (In this sense, read Manuel de Landa’s A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History).   The film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (starring Jude Law) is a good visual representation of this kind of design genre.


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The best summary so far…

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on June 24, 2008

In reading all your blogs this past weekend, I came across some great and interesting research and findings.  What struck me most was a post by Debbie Agnes in 3DC, over interactive shopping…I’ve copied a quote from it, since I think it clearly defines why we would even try to put new media into a soapshop:

When thnking about how to evolve your business with new media, think about what you are already doing that makes you successful and your products and services valuable. That is, the experiences you provide for your customers. So, here are some questions to ask yourselves about interactive shopping and about what you are already doing. Interactive technologies can help you do all of these, but not without a focus on the experience itself.

The full posting can be found here at Debbie’s weblog.

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LED lighting simplified

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on June 10, 2008

For those of you who will be using LED lights to enhance your maquettes, here’s a super simple instructable on how to make a simple LED “throwie”…courteousy of the Graffiti Research Lab.

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Crosslab Lunchevent — Internet geeks and Fashion Freaks

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on May 23, 2008


For all you stylists and mode-ontwerper wannabes, here’s a Crosslab lunchevent ‘specially for you.  Take note that it takes place on THURSDAY, May 29th.

CrossLab lunchevents
Donderdag 29 mei / 12.25-13.15u.
2e inbreiding, Blaak 10
internet geeks & fashion freaks
How to mash up these two and make the world wide web work for YOU

Eveline Kuin ( en Kim Swagemakers (
zijn allebei ervaren internet geeks & fashion freaks.
Aan de hand van hun persoonlijke digitale snelweg laten ze zien hoe het
internet het leven van een ontwerper of stylist kan veranderen.
Wie zijn hun (mode) iconen? En wie boekt er online succes en waarom? Kortom:
wat is de invloed van internet op de mode industrie en wat heb JIJ er aan?

Eveline Kuin en Kim Swagemakers geven deze dag tevens een workshop voor de
propedeuse mode over streetfashion-blogs, presentatiemogelijkheden op
internet en andere digitale modeverschijnselen.

More info?

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The experience of soap…

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on May 9, 2008

When I was younger, there was a certain TV character named Madge, who was a sort of Cora (from Mora) in the world of soap…palmolive soap actually.  The commercials tried to convince (mostly) women that doing dishes could actually be good for your hands…contrary to popular belief.  I’ve found one of the commercials on YouTube and I’ve posted it below:

Why do I blog this?

The experience of soap is context-dependant.  Keep in mind in your concept development what the context is.  What experiences are you trying to sell that will result in being associated with soap?  In this concept, we are selling experiences, not just soap.  It is only that the soap will be the carrier of the experience to be recalled at another time.

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Next Steps: blog postings

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on May 6, 2008

Though we are now moving forward making maquettes of the concept stores (in groups), I am expecting that you will continue posting research, ideas and inspiration onto your blog in the coming weeks. I expect to see research into soap, soap stores, experiences with soap, etc. But also new media components that you think might be useful in your design assignment. I’ve already put a few of these up in earlier posts.

To start, make sure that the colleagues in your group are listed in your blogroll. This can be done quite easily via your dashboard –>Manage –> Links (add new).

This way, you can all keep in touch with each other by sharing your findings and ideas. That is, after all, what this format is good at.

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Back from the holiday …

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on May 6, 2008

So we’re all back, refreshed, relaxed, and ready for the next challenge.

Last class we reviewed your presentations and your research, and I gave some feedback. This coming term we are going to execute our concepts in model form and build digital visualizations from them. Many of the concept directions are very interesting, and technically challenging to realize.


Our goal is not to solve the technical issues, but to create a strong concept that incorporates an idea of how the technology might work. Our goal is to create a space that triggers the sensory aspects of soap, with no soap in our store. This gives you licence to dream, and be creative. You are proposing technologies and media that most definitely can be used…though I do not expect you to be able to implement and develop the technical solutions yourself.

You are seeking a design and experience solution. Someone else will be doing the technical part if the project is to be realized. Your job is to sell your client (me) that your design concept and direction is worth investing in to implement at a later date.

To give you an idea, I will be showing a quick presentation that I made for NS and Prorail while in Eindhoven regarding a project I developed that uses new media to collect memories and movement of travellers in Amsterdam Centraal. The presentation will help to clarify that I am not asking you to make technical objects, but you are still able to propose them.

Bring some materials for sketching and drawing to the coming classes. Next week I also expect you to be bringing modeling materials (foamcore, glue, knives, images) to help you realize your model. In the coming weeks we will transferring your models into digital format to create our final presentations.

See you in class!

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The real batman

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on April 18, 2008

I found this today at the Volkskrant. This in relation to our experiments with walking through Rotterdam with blindfolds and earplugs. This guy has developed a most amazing method of finding his way around, even though he’s completely blind.

Definitely worth a look….

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Presentations due today, Friday April 18

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on April 18, 2008

Today I am expecting your presentations to be posted onto your blog. A couple of things to keep in mind while you are doing this:

  • powerpoint or pdf? Either format is fine. Keep in mind that if you have used effects in your powerpoint, such as sound or moving text, these will not be seen in a pdf. It might be easier to just post your powerpoint instead.
  • powerpoint version? Some of you have worked on your powerpoints at home on another computer. Keep in mind that your powerpoint must be saved as version 2004…if you are working on a Windoze machine, with Office 2008 (the extension will be .pptx), you have to SAVE AS…and under format, choose PowerPoint 2004…or else I cannot read it.
  • technical problems? If nothing works, and you cannot post to save your life, you can contact me at G.A.Verhoeven(at) for technical advice, I will be online all day Saturday reviewing the work. If an emergency, you can email the presentation to me directly…EMERGENCY ONLY.

Good luck.

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Links for the coming projects.

Posted by arno -- CrossLab on April 15, 2008

You all might be wondering aside from simple technologies how you might use new media in your project concepts.

Here’s a couple of links to some interesting things I’ve come across:

Directional sound. This company has discovered that by using white noise you can direct sound to specific spots, where only the sound can be heard on that location. It is used mostly in libraries, where public announcements can occur in a small area, and not disturb the rest of the reading public (shhh).

Maggie Orth. The original interactive textiles developer. Dr. Orth studied at MIT where much of her work was in tactile textiles, allowing for the integration of computers, sensors and circuits, into interactive fabrics. A pioneer who has inspired many people including Joey Berzowska, Di Mainstone, and Marina Toeters.

Hans Laube. The inventor of Smell-o-Vision, a 60s phenomenon where odor was released during a movie viewing. A great idea way before its time. And it was only used once.

Simon Heijdens. Light, nature and moving images are the inspiration for much of what this London based, Dutch designer works with. Of particular interest is the moving wallpaper…use of circuits and temperature sensitive paint create a series of changing patterns on the wall. Of particular interest is the temperature sensitive paint

Hypercolor….a blast from (my) past. Does anyone else remember these? The worst part was the color the shirt became when you washed it in too hot water.

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