“This project would have been impressive for an agency. The fact that a student pulled it off is incredibly impressive.” —juror Jon Jackson
“I love interfaces that are simple and give clear feedback to my actions. The Puzzle Facade hits both of those marks: a simple physical controller that allows me to transform a whole building—awesome!” —juror Eric Karjaluoto
Overview: Puzzle Facade is an urban technological experiment that transforms the exterior of the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria, into a giant Rubik’s Cube, inviting passersby into an interactive experience to solve the puzzle. Players use a handheld cube, which contains electronic components that track rotation and orientation. The color of the building’s exterior media facade changes in real time according to the motion of the handheld interface cube.
• Creator Javier Lloret began the project during a course called Urban Interfaces, part of a master’s program in interface culture he pursued in Linz.
• The hardware includes an Arduino Pro Mini, an inertial measurement unit, six rotary encoders, a LiPo battery and a Bluetooth modem, and the software was coded in openFrameworks.
• The video documentation of the project has been featured in international blogs, print media, television news and film festivals and has been watched more than 245,000 times on Vimeo.
Comments by Javier Lloret:
What are the project’s core features? “Puzzle Facade is a highly multidisciplinary project that makes use of a strong spatial connection between architecture, the Ars Electronica building, the referred object, a Rubik’s Cube, and the tangible interface, the interface cube held by players, to design a unique interactive experience that creates the illusion of transforming the architecture.”
From concept to completion, how long did it take to produce? “It is hard to say how long it took because it was a really long, fragmented process. The design and production of the interface-cube was an iterative process. Each new set of pieces was designed by learning from the mistakes made on the previous ones. I acquired a large set of skills through trial and error.”
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “Designing the interface cube to be small enough for the average person’s hands was the biggest single difficulty, but working on all the various aspects—design and production of the interface cube, aesthetics, programming, electronics—was really challenging for me overall. I don’t have a background in product design, which didn’t make the process any easier. I am grateful to have had feedback, advice and support from my thesis advisers and several external consultants and collaborators.”