Blanket Project: let it wear you
the first floor of Norwich's Forum, in a room next to Pizza Express,
sits a bizarre object: Nick Stedman's Blanket Project. Fascinating
and disturbing in equal measure, it sits on a table, its blanket-shaped
outline flexing and pulsing rhythmically, as a series of motors
operate an octopus-shaped skeleton fleshed out by armband-like inflatable
iteration of The Blanket Project currently on show at The Forum
is very much a work in progress, as Toronto-based Stedman explains:
"At present, its physical interaction is minimal. It can sense --
40 tactile sensors respond to the degree of pressure on them --
but nothing is yet happening with the data generated."
Blanket, when fully developed, will provide a startlingly unusual
experience: "It will be able to crawl around a space, find people
within that space and crawl over to and on top of them -- like a
pet." It is equipped with a wireless transceiver and a PIC microprocessor,
which will enable Stedman to set up a camera to detect bodies in
that space and beam the data to the blanket which will, thanks to
clever programming, then scuttle across to detected objects. Each
part of the blanket's skeleton is fitted with a pressure sensor,
so it will be able to respond to physical movement from the people
what, exactly, will it be able to do when it is fully developed?
"It will try to entertain you -- grasp you, or kind of hug you.
Hopefully, in a way that you find satisfying." It does sound a bit
scary, though. Stedman acknowledges that: "I want it to be familiar
in shape, but doing something that is not familiar. And I would
like people interacting with it to feel comfortable yet disturbed."
skeleton ready for its covering
assembles the blanket
cushion the blanket's
motors and workings