Digital video (color, sound), 4:08 min.
The designers of the Touch project— which explores near-field communication (NFC), or close-range wireless connections between devices—set out to make the immaterial visible, specifically one such technology, radio-frequency identification (RFID), currently used for financial transactions, transportation, and tracking anything from live animals to library books. “Many aspects of RFID interaction are fundamentally invisible,” explains Timo Arnall. “As users we experience two objects communicating through the ‘magic’ of radio waves.” Using an RFID tag (a label containing a microchip and an antenna) equipped with an LED probe that lights up whenever it senses an RFID reader, the designers recorded the interaction between reader and tag over time and created a map of the space in which they engaged. Jack Schulze notes that alongside the new materials used in contemporary design products, “service layers, video, animation, subscription models, customization, interface, software, behaviors, places, radio, data, APIs (application programming interfaces) and connectivity are amongst the immaterials.”