As digital devices continue to invade
our homes, offering ever-higher levels of sophistication, the television remote control has not kept pace. It fails to meet the needs of a large portion of users, from the elderly to those who are simply unenthusiastic about learning the dozens of functions on yet another device.
In Lausanne, Switzerland, EPFL+ECAL Lab, a unit of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne,
partnered with ECAL University of art and design to conceive Lazy Bytes – a challenge , conference and exhibition exploring one small facet of our complex relationship with technology.
The nearly 100 participants came from four schools: ECAL, ENSCI-Les Ateliers in Paris, the Royal College of Art in London and the Design and Technology Department at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Working in teams, they were allowed to choose the level of complexity, including those for channel and volume changes only, as well as models that integrate a range of functions across multiple devices.
The 63 resulting projects run the gamut from the hyper-minimal – nearly featureless stark-white objects controlled by touch-sensitive surfaces – to systems that completely subvert the typical ways we input information. Eschewing the usual array of buttons, they incorporate an assortment of typologies, including notepads (that rely on the user’s handwriting for input), joysticks and even other household objects. Speaking to the remote’s textural qualities, the teams incorporated such materials as marble, rubbery silicone and wood.
While the teams are applying for intellectual property patents for all the prototypes, the 28 most compelling ones are part of the touring exhibition. Following a run at London Design Festival in September, the show can be seen at Parsons in New York from October 24 to 31. In November, it will be at Swissnex in San Francisco, and in February at Le Lieu du Design en Île-de-France.