Publication date: 2024-05-30

Pioneering Physical AI with ‘Intentional Spaces’

Kay van den Aker is making waves with his groundbreaking grad project, ‘Intentional Spaces’. In a fascinating exploration, he delves into the implications of AI moving into the physical realm, looking into what physical AI as a material means for the world of interaction design.

Text: Jens Persson
UID24 – Kay van den Aker Grad Project

‘Intentional Spaces’ aims to explore the possibilities and opportunities that arise when a space understands, reasons, and interacts with the people and things inside of it. It presents a vision of how our experiences with our environment could change, and how our relationship with technology could transform through physical AI.

Hear Kay van den Aker, graduate from MFA Interaction Design, talk about ’Intentional Spaces’, his grad project exploring what happens when AI moves into the physical realm.

The project is a collaboration with Archetype AI, a San Francisco-based startup born out of Google’s ATAP department (project Soli). Archetype AI is currently developing a Large Behavior Model (LBM) that makes sense of the physical world around us by fusing sensor data with natural language.

”The series of interventions I’ve conducted present a glimpse into the landscape of interactions enabled by physical AI. I’m looking into what it could be like to co-exist with an autonomous, social, reactive and pro-active entity that interacts with us in the physical world”, says Kay van den Aker.

Kay van den Aker overlooking the Ume river at Umeå Institute of Design.

Kay van den Aker overlooking the Ume river at Umeå Institute of Design.

While most applications of AI are digital, this project highlights the potential of AI in the physical world. It raises questions about how we explain our intentions and context to AI systems to support us in the world around us.

The research also highlights the evolving role of designers, transitioning from crafting explicit interactions to shaping the behaviour of intelligent and context-aware environments. As AI and its role in our lives continue to evolve, Kay van den Aker's project raises important questions for the future of interaction design.