The more our everyday activities become digitally led, the more we rely on the remote control to simplify our relationship with digital media. The EPFL+ECAL Lab - a partnership between Lausanne's tech institute and design school - spotted this early and embarked on a mission to give the humble remote a makeover.
Along with three top design schools (ENSCI-Les Ateliers in Paris, London's RCA and New York's Parsons), the EPFL+ECAL Lab explored some truly innovative propositions for remote design. The collaboration led to the unveiling, this week, of Lazy Bytes, a range of ergonomic digital prototypes designed not only for entertainment but just about every facet of our lives.
The moniker blends the name of the first ever remote (the Lazy Bones, which hit the market in 1951) with that of a key partner on the project, interactive design pioneers Luckybite. Similarly, the project aims to pioneer an interactive product with a greater number of functions at a retail cost more in line with its mid-20th-century predecessor.
'Why the remote control? Because we decided to launch a much wider program about digital interfaces and more generally our relation to the digital world,' explains EPFL+ECAL Lab director Nicolas Henchoz. 'One thing we can observe is that most of the interfaces are driven by performance. We've added more and more features and functions.'
In terms of ideas, the sky was the limit - as the diverse results demonstrate. Tiny plastic 'Freehand', by ECAL student Cleo Jacquet, attaches itself like a children's toy to household objects with its twin suction cups. The notion is that anything can become a remote. Meanwhile 'Platform', by ENSCI student Florent Julien, and the intriguing wood 'Twistymote', by Parsons group Hilal Koyuncu, Leif Percifield and Francisco Zamorano, incorporate simplified interfaces that belie their inner complexity.
The prototypes will headline an exhibition in late 2013, followed by a conference - after which the remote control will surely take its place as the rightful icon of the digital world.