Split Flap2013

An analog method of displaying dynamic digital information

Split Flap is the result of a two week graphic design course on unorthodox ways of displaying information graphics in a specific context. The working physical prototype of a split flap, or Solari board, experiments with an analog method of displaying dynamic digital information.

This individual project was in conjunction with BeGreen Umeå and their Sustainable Ålidhem project. The brief asked us design multi-layered graphics that visualize the current sustainability status of Ålidhem (a residential neighborhood in Umeå). In addition, we were given a bus stop adjacent to the area as our site, in which the graphics were to be displayed with the goal of encouraging people to reflect and ask – How are we doing?, What can I do?, and Who can I talk to? – in regards to sustainability.

split flap physical prototyping by Karey Helms

After visiting the site, researching the neighborhood, and observing the residents, I developed three design guidelines in relation to displaying the sustainability status of Ålidhem:

1) Facade Triangulation for multiple levels of information – details available up close and overview from a distance
2) Color Variability for realtime indication of air quality
3) Community Reflection for view of self and neighborhood status

split flap physical prototyping by Karey Helms

In addition to the above, it was also important to me that the design had a functional relationship tied to the residential use of the bus stop and network themselves.

split flap physical prototyping by Karey Helms

After creating basic graphic templates relating gradients and colors to both air conditions and the bus time table, I decided on an analog installation proposal based on a collection of split flaps (or solari boards). Rather than use a singular digital display, an array of analog components highlights the role of individuals functioning together to form a community. Furthermore, as this was a two week individual project, I decided to focus on building a working prototype of a single split-flap, that would hypothetically be arrayed along the back side of the bus stop. The installation would display both practical (ex: the arrival of purple and yellow line buses) and conceptual (ex: board goes berserk when a non-sustainable ‘disturbance’ – a car – passes by) information through the graphical movement of colors.

split flap physical prototyping by Karey Helms

Umeå Institute of Design
Multilayering Graphic Design

Industry Partner
BeGreen Umeå

concept design, rapid prototyping, physical computing

Processing, Arduino, servo motors, laser cutting