Hybrid Space IKEA

My hybrid space is found at IKEA in Skejby.

Lev Manovich defines augmented space in three different ways: The first definition is capturing the physical, real world objects and adding them to the digital, virtual world. The second is opposite of the first definition where digital information and data is send to personal mobile medias such as mobile telephones. The third definition is comparable to the second with the difference that the data is spread out without a personal target. The last definition covers for example public LCD screens that transmit both desired information (such as bus and train time schedules) and less desired information (the shopping mall’s advertisements).1

The IKEA computer interface, in its shape of an augmented space, draws mainly on the third category definition. If it is left inactive with no influence from costumers, the computer will loop the movie showed below in my footage. In its inactive form it transmits information into the public space without considering the presence of customers and thus being impersonal. If a costumer touches the screen the movie immediately stops and transforms into a helping tool, which is controlled by the customer. The essential function of the interface is to tell customers where at the warehouse their articles is to be found, but instead of providing the user with a simple text based guide, the computer shows you pictures and makes it possible for the customer to virtually construct and colorize different types of furniture. This feature of virtually building your own furniture mirrors the IKEA concept of buying unassembled products.
My claim is that making furniture visible (through pictures) and tangible (through the customers hand via the touch screen) creates desires for more and/or other products from IKEA. In this way the computer has got both an informative and advertising function respectively by offering desired useful and guiding information meanwhile evoking undesired wishes in the mind of the costumer.

Notice how the interface blurs the borders between virtual and real space. When the virtual IKEA co-worker pops up at the screen he literally wipes away the threshold between the physical and the digital world. His gestures invite us to come and ‘join’ him in his world. The sound of his nod against the inside of the screen alludes to the nodding at the door as we are used to do when we visit our friends at their home and also generates the idea of him being a real human (if we as a customer would nod the screen the same noise would appear). When the virtual co-worker has disappeared, the video shows how the interface is operated just as if an invisible customer was standing in front of the screen. By showing the virtual co-worker inside the computer, the interface has absorbed some degree of reality, and likewise, by putting a virtual customer out in front of the screen, the interface radiates the virtual interface out into our reality. The interplay between virtual and real makes the border between the physical and digital disappear.

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