Spotlight: Mary Huang

While at Siggraph this year, I had the opportunity to meet a ton of amazing artists, students, and professionals whose expertise spanned from fine art, to graphic design, to animation, to computer engineering and programming.    Among these were artist and computer junkie Mary Huang, a Design and Media Arts graduate from UCLA who is currently studying in Copenhagen.  Her interests span from fashion design to code, to computational graphics and interactive experiences.  She's also got a healthy craving for robots.

I first saw Huang's work when she stopped by the Wearables booth I was helping out at in the Studio at Siggraph (featuring human-body-centered technologies using LEDs that utilize biofeedback, expanded sensory modalities, facilitate communication, etc.).  I was immediately attracted to her fashion pieces that utilized LEDs.  While there are a ton of fashion pieces and accessories out there these days that use LEDs, not all of them are tasteful, and most approach their use as an additive or decorative detail, not as an integral part of the object.  Huang's work is different.  She utilizes LEDs in a manner that contributes to the object as a whole, and provides the wearer or user with a sense that they can harness light as opposed to simply bling out with some LEDs.  The lights are not overpowering, and are well diffused, hidden beneath the layers of fabric that they illuminate. 

In addition to Huang's fashion pieces, she's got a lot of other interesting work.  Here are just a few images from some of her other endeavors:
Comprised of mini windmills, "Dandelion" captures energy naturally from bodily movement, wind, and other environmental influences.

A revamped toaster that forces us to rethink the mundane ritual and user interface of morning toast.  The toaster "plays a selection of music depending on the bread you put in to “toast”. 125 songs covered 5 genres: Reggae, Country, Rock, Electro and Latin within 5 categories of moods: party, melancholy, obscure, chill out and feel good. Choosing a rye bread with a wheat bread might give you a party Bob Marley track, or two white breads give you a melancholy Dolly Parton. In any case, the music is a surprising interaction from a seemingly ordinary kitchen object."

"Messenger Dog" is a prototype that emerged out of a collaboration.  The device acts as an "informal messaging system for disaster areas", meaning it records data from victims which is carried back to a centralized location and extracted to be played for a community of loved ones, allowing them an opportunity to know a missing family member is safe before any formal communication has been made.

.... and of course, everyone loves a robot that vends its own miniature robots!

For more exciting projects, check out Mary's website or her blog!

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