INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG 66 INTERACTIONS MAY–JUNE2015
FORUM CONNECTED EVERYDAY
conception and birth, through its ongoing
use as it passes among many different
owners, to its ultimate archiving. Even
at this early stage, we have seen plenty
of evidence that our guitar will acquire
a rich digital footprint encompassing
the details of its construction, videos of
performances, and the wider stories and
reflections it elicits from players.
We look forward to being able to
answer these questions as our project
progresses. We hope you will follow
our progress at www.carolan.com and
perhaps even get to meet and play the
Carolan as it continues its journey.
1. An introduction to Aestheticodes;
2. Costanza, E. and Huang, J. Designable visual
markers. Proc. CHI 2009. ACM, 2009.
3. Meese, R., Ali, S., Thorne, E.C., Benford,
S., Quinn, A., Mortier, R., Koleva, B.,
Pridmore, T., and Baurley, S. From
codes to patterns: Designing interactive
decoration for tableware. Proc. CHI 2013.
4. The Carolan guitar being played by Gypsy
Jazz guitarist Lulo Reinhardt; https://www.
5. Lulo Reinhardt recounts his experience of
decorating guitars; https://www.youtube.
6. Tsaknaki, V., Fernaeus, Y., and Schaub,
M. Leather as a material for crafting
interactive and physical artifacts. Proc.
DIS 2014. ACM, 2014.
7. Barthel, R., Hudson-Smith, A., De Jode,
M., and Blundell, B. Tales of Things–The
Internet of ‘Old ’ Things: Collecting stories
of objects, places and spaces. Proc. Internet
of Things 2010.
Steve Benford is professor of collaborative
computing at the University of Nottingham’s
Mixed Reality Laboratory and director of the
Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training. His
research focuses on cultural applications of
computing systems. He is a keen amateur
Adrian Hazzard is a research associate at
the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality
Laboratory. His research focuses on music in
HCI, primarily on adaptive musical experiences.
He is also a musician and composer.
Liming Xu is a Ph.D. student at the
International Doctoral Innovation Centre at
the University of Nottingham, where he is
researching interactive vision technologies,
including the development of Aestheticodes.
The resulting pattern was
carefully designed to meet all
of these constraints while also
containing two distinct interactive
codes, one on the areas visible to
the public and a second one running
under the strings. This pattern was
realized using a combination of laser
etching to mark out the pattern and
laser cutting to make the soundholes
and also cut out the inlay from
darker rosewood and mahogany,
with the inlay then being applied by
hand. The codes in the final design
comprise a mixture of inlay and
holes (which appear dark) to produce
a pattern that is scannable but that
also functions as a soundhole.
Since its completion, our guitar
has found its way into the wider world
and into the hands of players who have
told us their stories of guitars and their
thoughts about the project, and who
have recorded tunes and songs [ 4, 5].
While it’s lovely to talk in detail
about building guitars, we should also
consider what this project might tell
us about the Io T. We suggest there are
three broad possibilities here.
First, constructing the Carolan
guitar has already revealed something
about the complex nature of digitally
augmenting physical artifacts. Applying
interactive surface decoration has
required us to become intimately
familiar with the material properties
arising from the quality and nature of
wood and of techniques for etching,
cutting, and inlaying it, mirroring the
observations of Tsaknak, Fernaeus, and
Schaub on their experience of crafting
digital interactions into leather [ 6].
Crafting interactivity into a complex
real-world artifact has also required
us to take account of its structural
qualities, including understanding good
and bad places to apply patterns as well
as functional properties, such as how
its voice is produced, how players will
hold it, and even how one removes its
strings. In short, there would appear to
be far more to augmenting a thing than
“slapping” a QR code somewhere onto
its surface (or electronics into it).
As we move forward into the next
phase of the project, we hope the
Carolan will help us answer two further
questions with implications for the
wider Io T.
One key question concerns how
to augment everyday objects in a
sustainable way. Guitars can have long
lifetimes and typically evolve slowly in
comparison with digital technologies.
How can we mitigate the challenges
of our digital technologies becoming
obsolete long before our instrument
reaches the end of its active life?
Is it more sustainable to integrate
electronics into a traditional artifact, or
to connect it to digital media through
interactive surface decoration, as in the
case of the Carolan?
Another major question concerns
the kinds of stories that might become
associated with our guitar and the various
ways in which these might enhance its
value. Previous Io T research has begun to
explore how stories can enhance the value
of everyday things [ 7]. We intend for the
Carolan to help us understand the wide
range of stories that can be associated
with an object from the moment of its
Liz Jeal’s Celtic knot designs.