Last week I finally had the opportunity to meet with Jie Qi at the High Low tech lab at MIT Media Lab. After following her projects for a while and playing with the electronic postcard in our workshops I was able to find discover how Jie is imagining the future of making with kids. One word: playful.
That was also her main advice to our mentors: "Make sure you have fun with HacKIDemia! That is when the magic happens."
Jie sees the world of electronics as a whole new medium of artistic expression where perception and imagination merge. A good example for that is the animated vines instalation she did. It's like a garden that changes shape when you touch it. The way it works is that uses heat from electric current to heat up is heating the metal used for the structure of this instalation and it makes it extend. The distance sensor detects when someone is present, and then it sends a signal to activate the vines with electric power.
Because there is no engine you can hear the sound of the movement, you can feel it and that's what makes this circuit so unique. This special metal she used for this project is called flexinol and you can buy it here (Jie recommends the 0.006 one).
We also talked about how people will be able to prototype circuits directly in their agenda and create a story with them (more pictures here).
Jie's first prototype for the electro-agenda
Jie also told me she is excited about everything that is happening in electronics manufacturing in her home country, China. She recently visit Shenzen where she got to visit the manufacturing factories and meet all the important open hardware initiators. She said it's exciting to see how they prototype at scale and how much that changes one's perspective over the fabrication design.
I was extremely touched by Jie's vision and work. I believe is crucial for our future technological designs to have people like her expressing new ideas and emotions while merging art and technology and creating beautiful stories.