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Anxiety-Reducing Smart Objects: Christine Farion's Wuthering Bytes Talk

Gareth Halfacree

Christine Farion's Smart Bag

It's Wuthering Bytes month here at oomlout, and we're officially over the hump: the extended seven-day schedule is now running out as we rush headlong to Friday's Festival Day. A more eclectic programme than the themed days so far, the Wuthering Bytes Festival Day offers a broad range of topics and talks from the history of local electronics firm Calrec Audio to reading the unreadable with X-rays, and one particular talk we're really looking forward to: Christine Farion's Making Smart Objects to Reduce Anxiety in Everyday Life.

The title may be a bit of a mouthful, but attendees are sure to find Christine's talk fascinating. Like everyone else, Christine suffers various mildly trying times in her life that add up to stresses and strains - things like leaving the house without her keys or wallet. Where Christine differs from most is that she looks for practical solutions, using technology in innovative ways to reduce day-to-day stress. "Have you ever checked your bag more than once, wondering if you’ve packed those essential items, or left home without them only to have a much more stressful day because you now are worried about it? When I forget I feel bad," Christine explains, "and I’m trying to alleviate these negative emotions and implications that affect our everyday lives."

One of these projects, to be demonstrated live during the Wuthering Bytes Festival Day, is a 'smart bag' which hides a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag reader. Combined with low-cost, passive RFID tags fitted to frequently-forgotten items, the bag is capable of tracking what's inside - warning the user if anything particularly important is missing before they leave the house.

Christine's work on smart devices follows years of creative projects, with a more recent focus on forgetfulness - when she remembers - and human-computer interfaces, along with the futuristic-sounding 'distributed cognition.' Those interested in seeing the RFID bag in action and hearing more about Christine's work to make our everyday devices smarter and more helpful should head over to our dedicated microsite to pick up a ticket for Friday's Festival Day - but hurry, because the event is nearly upon us!

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