Welcome come to Sensor Driven Storytelling: Internet of Trees, the Special Topic of RISD ID 2016 Fall class.

Experts have declared an anthropocene epoch has begun. The term refers to a geological period where human activity is the dominant influence on the climate and environment. This drastic shift signals a need for evolving the ways we think of, and regard nature entirely. In some disciplines, asking questions like “What is nature?”, might seem like a waste of time. After all, how can subjective views provide scientifically useful results? But as designers of the anthropocene, this question is very relevant. How do we use our 21st tools and technologies to form new narratives that shape our next nature? Can we re-exam the nature with the lens of information design? Could nature be connected to the ubiquitous network of Internet of Things? Can we evoke empathy by embedding ourselves in the storytelling of the nature?

In this 3 credit, industrial design course, we will take simple examples of nature phenomena, and represent them into a world of storytelling and interaction design, through sensing technology and data visualization. Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to design and build a monitoring device, while learning foundations of systems design, embedded electronics, software development, communications networking, and mechanical interaction. Starting from a simple system at the beginning of the course, students will embark on an iterative design journey in order to evolve their “internet of thing”, and consider the entire system, including its inputs, processing and outputs.

The course will culminate in the presentation of at least one final nature sensing system for each student, along with narrative information visualization based on real data. A process notebook, or blog, will be kept throughout the course, in order to document each stage of development and journey.