Object Mediated Interaction

Tobias Löhe

London based interaction designer and researcher, made in Germany.

Tobias' fascination oscillates between investigations into design as a tool for sociocultural discourse and the exploration of new forms of tangible media interactions. Creating meaningful moments of encounter between technology and culture whenever the two practises meet. Throughout his work, he devises actionable narratives and metaphors as agents to distil his research and communicate the intent of a project. With backgrounds in mechanical engineering and industrial design he aims him to connect a rational scientific lens with holistic perspectives to elevate concepts as part of a bigger picture.

Before graduating from the Design Products program at the Royal College of Art London, he earned a degree in Mechanical engineering from the University of Applied Sciences, Munich and spent a year at the renown Umeå Institute of Design in northern Sweden. Besides accumulating a considerable amount of universities on his resume, he can be found crimping holds in the climbing gym, searching signs of smooth surfaces on pizza dough in the kitchen or elsewhere fantasising about the next surf trip over a binge-worthy podcast and a Nutella bread. 


- the exhibitionist, Royal College of Art, London, 2019 




Degree Details

School of Design


While my excessive baking effort have partly been responsible for the shortage of flour in supermarkets around London, I am currently following my inner geek into the rabbithole of local food ecologies. Taking advantage of the limitations caused by the ongoing pandemia to spend more time in the kitchen, adding some fun to my research and testing pizza as a new design material.

/> [header] — {shouting at lamps}

/> [research I] — {machine [ex]po[t/n]ential}

/> [research II] — {resources in flux}

/> [synthesis I] — {language barrier}

/> [synthesis II] — {clean hand, dirty magic?}

/> [video] — {working prototype IaT}

/> [result I] — {still IaT}

/> [result II] — {at your snap}

/> [result III] — {schematic IaT}

/> [result IV] — {can you relate?}

/> [footer] — {what’s next?}

Technology has become invasive, neglecting privacy concerns in our personal sphere of the home. The ever-growing convenience that accompanies these objects has only further driven this intrusion. Whereas, information mined in the process is used to hold up a mirror of our own quantified selves deceiving us to believe in the context-awareness of the underlying algorithms. This project positions itself at the friction point of these four opposing paradigms. It asks you to re-imagine the relationship with our new electrical inhabitants by proposing an alternative, seamful way of interacting with them.

Interactive Thing (IaT) is an ongoing investigation into the world of smart objects and our interactions with them. The exhibited research object manifests as a teachable light-switch, trained by you to react to sonic gestures, short sounds such as a snap or a whistle.

Unlike its close relatives, the IoT-devices (Internet of Things) IaTs habituate in a non-connected world of the mundane. Similar to dogs they afford they afford engagement and interaction in order to be understandable and relatable. Creating a seamful, opposed to a seamless interaction. Language barriers between humans and Interactive Things are mitigated by visually exposing their inner workings. Giving their proprietor a chance to adapt and intervene in case of contextual misunderstandings.


machine learning, physical computing
Explorative Research
Human-Computer Interaction
Humanised Technology
Interaction Design
Machine Learning
Physical Computing
Work in Progress

Illumi — explanation video

Research — research hypothesis

Concept I — product family

Concept II — scenario

Result I — overview parts

Result II — exploded view

Result III — building block examples

Result IV — Illumi in context

Illumi is an investigation into the social construct of visual impairment, resulting in a set of augmented building blocks mediating independent, imaginary play. Using spatial auditory cues as the agent of augmentation, the experience enables and encourages visually impaired children to explore spaces independently and share their creations with peers beyond the borders of blindness, by making imagination the common ground on which to play together. In a participatory way, parents or carers engage in the play by setting up new spaces as well as adapting the auditory experience. Not acting as a substitute for vision but rather an encouragement for the children to further develop their independence.

The societal view of blindness as a terrible fate has become a stifling stigma and supportive structures in form of institutions and organizations have long focused their efforts on assisting adults at the expense of addressing early childhood development with the condition. Nonetheless, certain individuals have shown the ability to enhance their remaining sensory capabilities to an astonishing level. From using echolocation as a means of orientation and navigation to reading and interpreting scientific data through sound or climbing the highest mountains on earth. Especially in cases of congenital impairments, prominent blind figures such as Daniel Kish advocate for the importance of an independent approach based on exploration compared to fixed safeguarded structures. Based on these and more findings, Illumi tries to consider the need for an inclusive, open play environment not just for visually impaired but for everyone.


Auditory augmented reality
Royal College of Art
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