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Toys for robots, a wine pouring machine and bellybutton swabs. The homes of the future...

TCD’s Science Gallery’s latest exhibition is well worth a visit.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

HOW WILL HOMES develop as families become more disparate? What exactly makes a home? How will the nature of home adapt to technology?

These are the types of questions being addressed by the latest exhibition at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin.

Home\Sick starts today and runs until mid-July, offering visitors a chance to see what the future might look like inside the home.

A number of the installations examine long-distance relationships and the different ways couples may stay connected in the future.

(null) Natural Fuse: Plants acting as circuit breakers. Source: TheJournal.ie

Chatting by smartphone is active but one of the exhibits, the Good Night Lamp, is a more passive affair.

It is a physical object that’s connected to the internet and is paired with a similar lamp in your loved one’s home. If you turn on or off your lamp it, the lamp in your partner’s home does the same.

The idea is to let you share your mood or what you’re up to in a much more ambient way.

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One of the other pieces takes this a step further.

Drinking Together While Apart was developed in collaboration with an Edinburgh couple who say they love relaxing together with a drink at the end of the day.

The piece acts by automatically pouring a glass of wine when its counterpart, a bottle opener, is used anywhere in the world.

The piece is part of an installation called Ritual Pieces. One of its developers, David Chatting, explains that they’re not designed so much as solutions, but to demonstrate the nature of how modern long-distance relationships work.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Adapting to robotics

Another one of the exhibits that catches the eye is With Robots, developed by Diego Trujillo of the National Autonomous University in Mexico.

It looks at how our houses may have to adapt to accommodate robots. Trujillo explains that, while many people imagine robots integrating into our lives, the reality could in fact be the opposite.

He demonstrates with a number of household items, like these plates and cups, showing how they may be adapted for robot interaction.

robot Source: TheJournal.ie

The black reader on the cups is a sensor which allows for robot interaction.

The sensor is also present on a collection of ‘robot toys’ that he developed to allow robots test their algorithms.

Discussing the integration of robotics into our lives, Trujillo and Science Gallery director Ian Brunswick explain one of the big questions: To what extent will we be willing to let it robots disrupt our lives?

For example, adding another handle to a cup might seem too much of a nuisance. But an extra sensor on our bedclothes to allow for robot washing? Well, that could seem more worthwhile.

“Most pieces in the show, you can see how it will benefit your life, but you can also see how it can kind of get in the way. Be a bit on impediment,” explains Brunswick.

How human-like we can make robots, at least in their motion, is plateauing very quickly. It will probably be easier to make our homes friendly to robots than it will to make robots friendly to our homes.
It think that’s what’s interesting about Home\Sick and this piece, it doesn’t ask how will technology change our lives but how our lives will change for technology.

Jessie Doyle takes a closer A scaled down replica of the Northbank Lighthouse by Fergal McCarthy. Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The exhibition also features plants that act as natural fuses, bowls made from household dust and even an exhibit that tests the bacteria that grow inside people’s bellybuttons.

(You can go and get your bellybutton swabbed if you so wish).

A two-storey high artwork from local artist Fergal McCarthy portraying a Dublin lighthouse now dominates the centre of the Science Gallery.

Topically, there’s even Wash Lab, an interactive shower cubicle provoking questions around water usage. 

And what about your smartphone beside your bed? Well, prepare for more bedside tech:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Home\Sick is curated by Anna Davies of TCD’s geography department and a number of other curators including Booker Prize winner Anne Enright.

It runs from today until 19 July.

Read: This man has been taking a photo of everything he touches… for the last 11 years >

Read: Who are the 30%ers? >

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Rónán Duffy

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