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Autonomous filing cabinet reminds us that information lasts in the digital age

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June 30, 2014

The autonomous filing cabinet was created during designer Jaap de Maat's final year studyi...

The autonomous filing cabinet was created during designer Jaap de Maat's final year studying at the Royal College of Art (Photo: Jaap de Maat)

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It only takes a few clicks to share information online, but that information may remain available to others for a very long time. Designer Jaap de Maat aims to remind us of this fact with his art project. I Know What You Did Last Summer is an autonomous filing cabinet that follows people around.

The project was conceived as part of de Maat's final year studying for a Master of Arts in Information Experience Design at the London's Royal College of Art.

"In the digital age it has become easier to look back with great accuracy," states de Maat's brief. "But this development contains hidden dangers, as those stored recollections can easily be misinterpreted and manipulated. That sobering thought should rule our online behavior, because the traces we leave behind now will follow us around for ever."

The cabinet is connected to a webcam via Bluetooth, which duly scans the room for movement...

The designer salvaged and modified a standard filing cabinet. Part of an electric wheelchair (plus battery) was then placed inside and given new wheels, along with an Arduino board, a BT2S Bluetooth interface and HC-SR04 distance sensors – plus some "blood, sweat, and tears," as de Maat tells Gizmag.

The cabinet is connected to a webcam via Bluetooth, which scans the room for movement. When the webcam finds a person, it sends the relevant location to the Arduino, which in turn controls the wheelchair motors and directs the cabinet toward that person. The selection can be random and sometimes results in the cabinet switching between people, or knocking into them, despite the distance sensors de Maat installed.

I Know What You Did Last Summer was, until recently, installed at the Royal College of Art's Hockney Gallery. The designer is currently in talks to bring the project to Dubai. The video below shows it in operation.

Source: Royal College of Art

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road.

  All articles by Adam Williams
2 Comments

Sometimes results in the cabinet switching between people, or knocking into them, despite the distance sensors de Maat installed.

Bringing out the skeletons in the closet, or just awaiting the first law suit, once this heavy pointy box inflicts injury.

C'mon get me, as it's lead down the stairs....

Bob Flint
30th June, 2014 @ 10:07 am PDT

The thought to take away from seeing this could well be:

"Do as much as possible face-to-face and only verbally. Never put anything down on paper or where it can be printed."

The Skud
30th June, 2014 @ 06:55 pm PDT
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