"The IRC brought together researchers from eight different institutions and a variety of disciplines which address the technical, social and design issues in the development of new inter-relationships between the physical and digital.
A series of experience projects engaged with different user communities to develop new combinations of physical and digital worlds and explore how these may be exploited and how these may enhance the quality of everyday life.
A series of research challenges explored (a) new classes of device which link the physical and the digital, (b) adaptive software architectures and (c) new design and evaluation methods, which draw together approaches from social science, cognitive science and art and design. Equator involved over 60 researchers, with a range of expertise encompassing computer science, psychology, sociology, design and the arts.
Equator aimed to forge a clearer understanding of what it means to live in an age when digital and physical activities not only coexist but cooperate. This is the age we are now entering, and it promises radical change in how we communicate, interact, work and play – that is, how we live. But to fulfil that promise requires more than new technology. We need equally new ways of thinking about technology, and thus also about ourselves.
Everyone recognises that the computer is moving beyond the workplace. As digital systems (like the Web) converge with computer networks and cellular phone communications, new devices and services proliferate – many of them mobile, or embedded in the environment. Yet few people fully grasp the potential impact of such technological fluidity and ubiquity. Most current research is still rooted in the workaday world of the desk-bound PC. But look at the possibilities – for our home life, our schooling, community care, even our city streets.
These are just some of the areas which Equator explored, through the development of coherent new systems and devices. Ultimately, however, we were less concerned with solutions to specific design problems than with the bigger picture these solutions entail. This is what united so diverse a community of researchers. For it is only by sketching the bigger picture that we can begin to fulfil the promise offered by our new age, and so improve the quality of everyday life in years to come."