The creation of technology inspired by nature is nothing new. From early days, we have always copied the natural world to create our inventions. Tom Gerhardt, a designer as well as a hardware and software developer, is also inspired by nature to design technological devices. Throughout his works he has developed designs which build a connection between technology and nature so the users of his designs can experience more natural sense with technological and digital devices.
The Stone Mouse, 2010
The Stone Mouse (2010) , created by Tom , as its name indicates, is a computer mouse transformed by stone. The object is consist of custom electronics embedded into a slim ring, which providesfunctions of standard mouse, and a piece of stone of your choice. The users of the Stone Mouse can click, drag and navigate as they would with any other standard mouse. By choosing stone as a material of the object, the users would feel like they become a Stone Age Man who use stone tools. So ironically design of the object challenges our standard designs of mass produced technological devices as well as our technology which tends to follow standard format of technological devices
The Mud Tub, 2009
The Mud Tub (2009),Tom’s another work, is an experimental organic interface that users enable to control a computer while they play in the mud. The device uses users’ actions of sloshing, squishing, pulling and punching in a tub of mud which allows them to control games, simulators, and expressive tools. Using the mud as an interface for a connection between users’ bodies and the digital world, the Mud Tub brings natural and physical experience with the technological world to its users and it also allows the unique movements of humans. While there are rare interaction between users’ actions and traditional standard computers, this innovative object allows humans to use their sense of touch, and creative thinking skills in a more natural way.
The Firelight, 2015
Recently Tom has designed the FireLight (2015), a lighting system controlled by a candle’s flame. With the design, he also explored our nature: fire, light and wood. The lighting system is operated by interaction between a wooden panel on the wall and Candle Module placed on a table. When the FireLight Candle Module is lit, the FireLight lamp immediately turns on in response to the candle flame’s flickering. And when the FireLight Candle is blown out, the light turns off. The FireLight can be used as light source and it comes with a recharge base station for the Candle Module. From the design once again inspired by our nature, Tom explored a boundary between natural fire and electric lighting system.
Humans have developed numerous technological devices and as a result our lives have become more convenient and efficient. On the other hands, due to the technology development we have lost much of our nature sense. However innovative designers such as Tom Gerhardt try to build a reconnection between our nature and technological world by creating designs for technological devices inspired by nature and by exploring to a boundary between organic nature and digital world.