An antique typewriter has been transformed for the digital generation, using sensors and circuit boards to turn it into an interactive social tool.
Joe Hounsham, a graduate of the BA (Hons) Digital Art and Technology programme at Plymouth University, decided to revive the 1930s instrument after a presentation about smarter technologies which also invited students to breathe new life into defunct technology.
The result is an interactive piece, titled Dico, which enables people to use the typewriter as a means to communicate through internet forums.
But Joe believes its uses are potentially limitless, such as turning on lights by typing certain keywords, typing out the daily news headlines each morning or creating a retro digital guestbook.
Joe’s vision has captured the imagination of those who have seen the piece, and it has now earned him a Smarter Planet Award from global technology giant IBM, who have been working with the University since 2011 to deliver a module on the Digital Art and Technology course.
Joe, 22, who lives in Woking, Surrey, said:
“I was in the University’s Writing Café and they had an old typewriter which didn’t work. I have always really enjoyed taking old technology and giving it new purpose, and suddenly thought it would be great to create a functioning typewriter with a technological twist. It was incredibly challenging to build the hardware, and I had to contact a supplier in Germany to get precisely what I needed, but people had great fun with it and seemed to love the novelty of having a conversation with someone by typewriter.”
During his course, Joe’s other projects included transforming a 1950s short wave radio which feeds off a person’s brain activity to create small poems.