The intersection of art and science

The intersection of art and science

Sometimes it feels like we’re
sleepwalking through our lives. We get all caught up in
the demands of the day, riveted to our phones and we
forget to look up and look around and see all of the beautiful nuances happening
around us all the time. Innovation hinges on our ability
to see things differently, breaking boundaries and
looking between the lines in an effort to solve some of
the world’s greatest challenges. [MUSIC]>>Our goal isn’t to get more
screens into people’s hands, our goal is to amplify the experience that
people have in real life. We’re constantly fusing
together art, science, and technology to take on some of the greatest challenges
in our lifetime. We’re discovering so
many new ways to elevate people’s awareness through the
experiences that we’re building, to make us more conscious
of our environment, more fully awake in this world. So much of our work starts off
with one simple question: what if? What if we could augment
our bodies to detect and sense the invisible
realms around us, like for instance UV
or carbon monoxide? What might that look like? What might that experience be like? [MUSIC]>>So let’s consider pollution. Pollution is largely unseen and while it’s happening
all around us, we have no idea of the
actual health impacts it’s causing us in our daily lives. It’s that what if question that
actually led us to develop colormetric makeup and hair
color pigments that change color based on the
intensity of the UV index. That’s not magic, that’s chemistry. But what if we could
actually hear them as well. This past year we started something called the Urban
Innovation Initiative. It’s a cross-disciplinary effort
that bridges together engineers, designers, and researchers
to tackle air quality. We developed hyperlocal
air quality sensors to detect local air
quality in real time. Now what if we could take
those signals and augment something in our everyday life,
for instance wind chimes. If the air quality is good, you might hear major chords
and it sounds beautiful. But if it isn’t, you might hear minor chords
something discordant, something that disturbs you. This is project Eclipse. We can detect four kinds of gases: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide. In addition, we have a particle-
sensing box that detects anything from pollens to smoke, and it
sends data right to the cloud. And this enables people in their own neighborhoods
to know what’s going on with the air quality around
them at a hyperlocal level. [MUSIC]>>Let’s talk about Project Florence. What if we could talk to our plants? How might that change our
relationship with the natural world? What would they say? How
would they respond to us? One of the artists that
we actually worked with in our residence program
is Helene Steiner. Helene had this idea
of actually elevating plant signals and translating our language into plant
language. Let me explain. The way that Florence works is you can type something to the plant. So for instance, you could
type something like, “Good morning. How are you?” and we use a natural language
processing algorithm to infer the sentiment of what
you’re texting to the plant. We take that sentiment, whether it’s positive or negative, we translate that into a
red light or a blue light which the plant will then have
an electrochemical response to. In addition to that, we augment
the plant with sensors that infer her state of moisture or dryness
or if she’s too hot or too cold, and we combine all those
things together to have her actually
print out a response. Florence is just initially
a whimsical piece of art but this actually might
have real world implications. How might we grow our
food in the future? Perhaps we will need to augment our crops to know in real time
if they are healthy or not? We’re talking about very real
solutions to global challenges. [MUSIC]>>One of the examples
of embedding sensing and actuating capabilities
into our fabrics is something we call lightware. So instead of sitting
behind a lightbox, you’re actually immersed and wearing a beautiful scarf of blue light. So our question was: How could we create an easy plug and play platform for people to build these
experiences on top of? So we used Microsoft MakeCode
that enables anyone even like fashion designers to plug and play their own components
into their garments. So technical expertise is
no longer a constraint. Now we can provide these
kind of creative tools that enable them to go as far out as
their imagination will take them. [MUSIC]>>Our explorations with
data-driven technologies have now led us to one of our most
ambitious creative collaborations. We call her Ada. Ada is our latest creative
collaboration with Jenny Sabin Studios. And Ada is incredibly disruptive. Ada is comprised of over 850 uniquely 3D-printed
nylon parts that we call nodes, and she’s assembled with
fiberglass rods and digitally knitted cones to
create one big ethereal piece, almost like a collective mind or heartbeat that lives in our atrium. In order to get Ada
to actually activate, we’ve installed different camera
stations around the building. Camera stations that
actually can detect expressions and we translate
those expressions into color. So now Ada can swirl with
color and pattern and infer the different expressions and activities going on
inside the building. Ada becomes almost
our collective mind because Ada infers a future in which our architecture in the buildings
and the environment that we live in actually responds
to us in real time. [MUSIC]>>So think of it this way, every one of us is like those
uniquely printed 3D nodes, we all have our quirky angles. But when we come together
and we fit just right, we create something supernatural, something beyond our mundane selves. The way we see it, art inspires us to come together, bridges us back to our humanity. And when we incorporate it
into our technology, we elevate this to the next level. So most of the things that
we create will never become products and they’re
just not meant to, our number one goal is to inspire. So whether it’s color-
changing hair or augmented wind chimes that
enable us to hear air quality, or even talking plants, all of these things are coming together to push a new
narrative forward, a narrative that
actually brings art into the conversation and
expands our horizons, and it pushes us into
the next frontier. And maybe someone who’s watching
this right now will be inspired to go out and push something meaningful and
profound into the world. [MUSIC]

6 thoughts on “The intersection of art and science

  1. What I was thinking about throughout the whole video is that awesome presentation of Azure services, where all the background voice was filtered from the video. 🙂

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