LeavesSeveral Horizon projects focus on the lifelong contextual footprint of people – delivering new services through the information now being stored about their everyday activities. In contrast, this project focuses on everyday objects, making them more interactive and enabling their digital footprints also to be captured and exploited.

In collaboration with academic partners Central Saint Martins and Brunel University, and commercial partner Busaba Eathai, we are developing new ways to interact digitally with everyday objects using smartphones and cameras.

Although mechanisms to do so already exist, notably barcodes and QR codes, they are ugly with little aesthetic value. As a result, their use is limited – most people would object to putting a QR code on every object they own, or to seeing a QR code on every piece of tableware and furniture in a restaurant.

PenguinsBuilding on the d-touch system for drawable markers, we have built technology that affords robust recognition of d-touch markers using smartphones. At the same time, we have worked closely with a range of designers to build appealing visual markers that can be treated as  patterns.

This unique dialogue between ceramic designers and technologists enables us to explore how we might create new ceramic designs (shapes, patterns and textures) that are both optimally trackable and yet also aesthetically pleasing and functionally appropriate. Thus Horizon can explore the wider tension between designing sensing systems to recognise the world versus designing a world that can be recognised by sensing systems.


Watch the video of Professor Steve Benford & Tony Quinn at the AHRC Digital Moot Event, talking about Aestheticodes

Academic partners include: Brunel University, University of Exeter, Central Saint Martins.

For more information take a look at and the project blog.