What is Physikit?
Physikit is an exciting new platform that makes data tangible in your home. A Physikit set contains four interactive physical components – the light, vibe, move, and air cubes – and a clear drag-and-drop web interface that allows these components to be linked to datasets such as sensor readings.
The physical cubes show values and changes in this data in four different visual and clear, yet ambient and unobtrusive, ways. By combining the Physikit with a sensor platform such as SmartCitizen, it can show how sensor readings, for example around air quality, temperature, and noise levels, change over time. Also, alerts can be set for when a sensor reading crosses a chosen threshold.
Physikit is flexible to be appropriated in different ways to fit the needs and desires of different households. Due to its wired or battery-powered options it can be placed anywhere in your home. Further, cubes can be connected to each other or to your furniture, and can be customised with other materials if desired.
The physical data cubes in the Physikit set are:
The light cube shows alerts and continuous and relative sensor levels by lighting up LEDs in different colours and patterns, which can all be customised.
The vibe cube shows alerts and continuous and relative sensor levels by vibrating at different speeds and patterns, as set by the user’s preferences.
The move cube shows alerts and continuous and relative sensor levels by spinning a star-shaped disc at different speeds, directions, and patterns.
The air cube shows alerts and continuous and relative sensor levels by spinning fans on either side of the cube in different patterns, which can be set by the user.
Why did we create Physikit?
Ubiquitous urban sensors can give us rich information about the world around us, such as current temperature, humidity, air quality, or noise levels. This information can help us make decisions in our everyday lives. We may for example decide to take a different route to work if the air quality on our commute is particularly bad, or we may want to open a window if humidity or CO levels are getting higher inside. On a higher level, such information can make us more aware of our environment and how we contribute to it.
While sensor platforms are commercially available and sensors have been placed in our cities and our streets, data from these sensors is usually only available through websites or is stored in large data sheets that are hidden or unengaging to inexperienced users. Furthermore, direct representations of sensor readings do not always make sense to us: what unit are readings presented in, and when are readings out of the ordinary?
Physikit aims to make data from sensors more visible in our everyday lives by providing physical and embedded data visualisations in our homes. Such embedded physical devices have shown to be powerful in increasing awareness, and have the ability to become part of the home landscape. Through its comprehensive web interface and its different modes for showing data continuously, showing relative levels, and alerting when thresholds are reached, Physikit also aims to give people a better feel for how their environment changes over time and what can be considered ‘normal’.