Fuelling the Future with the Touch Board

Design is where science and art break even

This project began as a live brief for the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT). The CSCT had a problem with communicating the science behind sustainable fuels, while trying to inspire and engage the younger generation. The main objective of the project, ”Fuelling the Future”, was to find an innovative way to initiate a dialogue between scientists and children.

The interactive fuel cell is a ‘tech-poster’. It transforms the teaching experience into a playful learning environment that directly integrates science into design. It opens up a creative discussion, focusing on the importance of sustainable fuels and how they could benefit the future. The ”Fuelling the Future” project was designed to inspire the next generation of scientists, fuelling the future through play.

The interactive fuel cell is a flat circuit board, created with Electric Paint. The paint is linked to a series of coded electrodes, which are calibrated to sense touch through proximity. Each sensor is represented by a different fuel icon. When each icon is activated, the Touch Board is triggered to play a pre-recorded voice that describes each fuel in a short and factual summary.

The creator of the project, Ally wanted to create a completely immersive learning experience in which the audience could interact with the design on a number of levels. The sci-fi background music brings the poster alive, grabbing the interest of passers-by and adding some extra fun.

The design is completely portable and self-contained using mobile battery banks and a portable speaker. She wanted the design to be as intuitive and accessible as possible. The bright colours stimulate the visual senses, while the interactive icons allow children to learn through physical touch. Finally, the information voice-over allows learning through the auditory senses as well as accommodating the visually impaired or more introvert learners.

The completely flat 2D circuit board is made from neon acrylic. Ally wanted to use a bold material that captured the eye and imagination of the audience. The transparent nature of the canvas emphasises the magic of a completely flat and wireless circuit board. She engraved the vector-based design with a CNC cutter and was able to flood the ink directly into the engraving, wiping away any excess. After calibrating the icons to sense the presence of a hand, each became their own micro learning station, turning on and off with a wave of a hand.

Bare Conductive brings a sense of magic to design through simple physical interaction. It has allowed the artist to make science more accessible, creative and intuitive. Using Electric Paint as a sensor, allows technology to become more human centred, creating a deeper level of understanding and involvement. This allows engagement with education in a new and modern sense, bringing science to life.

Images & Video: Ally Bins

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