25 June 2006

So, now that Jack‘s show is happening, S&W have finally decloaked Availabot.

Wow. Suddenly lots of cryptic conversations with Matt over the past few months make sense – mass production, Chinese toy factories, the hell of USB serial communications.

It’s a lovely thing. I really like the emphasis on the individuality – rapid fabrication of appearance, username hard-coded into hardware – one physical thing represents one digital thing, and it’s obvious and understandable without the need for a Thinglink idea or a product code. Matt Jones’ Availabot looks like Matt Jones. When I hand you the red-headed one with a quiff, you know it’s mine; plug it into your computer and that’ll confirm it.

Also, it harks back to the peripheral vision idea of Glancing, I guess; I really like this quotation on the page:

Rather than showing up on your screen, it shows availability as a physical object in the world. That means that you can move the puppet out of view when you don’t want to be distracted, watch out for it when you’re working on other tasks, and have a background awareness of your friends from the corner of your eye.

Hiding things by hiding them on your desk, not your “desktop”. Paper bags, stacks of books, not command-H. We procrastinate (or indicate busy-ness) physically, after all. Made me grin.

Anyhow: awesome concept, probably complex in execution, but very elegant nontheless. I hope it goes somewhere!