Chocolate Chip

Applied fascinations of Justyna

Magic Box

I’m interested in developing projects in which technology meets art in its functional aspect, connecting crafts and open source hardware to create new ways of interaction.

When I was a woodworker I would often find available hardware very limiting and/or very expensive. Therefore I started experimenting with hinges, locking mechanisms and researching ways of creating invisible interfaces. The magic box at this point is just a starting point of establishing a new unlocking platform through movement.

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Inspired by science fiction genre and my woodworking experience with hardware. For my prototype I decided to play with definitions and reveal what is usually hidden. In my set up gears do not only play a functional role but also aesthetical, suggesting movement, inviting to study and play. Through this project I explored potentials of increased security, multimodality. The future plans include wireless communication so any objects can be turned into keys and additional control option over various locks.

Since most of the locks are external I decided to create a lock that is embodied into the physical object. It is a part of it and it also requires an activity. There is a right sequence of rotations that has to be applied in order to open it up. It also forces the user to memorize the combination through movement. The sequence can be easily changed and modified but presently it requires the user to perform 6 rotations in a continuous manner. If the user places the box on a wrong side it vibrates twice and then goes to the reset state, which requires the user to go back to the initial position. If the box remains unmoved for longer than 10 sec it also vibrates twice and requires the user to start all over again from the first rotation. If the combination is right the vibration gradually increases and the servo gets activated. The servo turns the gears and unlocks the top. I also used a reed switch and a magnet for the detection of opening and closing states. When the top goes down and magnet touches the reed switch the box gets automatically locked. I also build the box for that project and added laser cut gears.


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I have an expansion plan for that project which would turn it more into a platform and custom PCB that can be adapted to any environment, cabinet, door, box…etc. In such a set up anything can become a controller.

The advantages are many, some of them are learning through movement, less keys, increased security. The cube could become a great memory exercise since the number of rotations can be easily changed and increased. It adds playfulness to everyday life and can be a great tool for creating performance art.


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