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Interactive apartment block prototype is a voyeuristic Arduino-powered experience

Caretaker
If you crossed Alfred Hitchcock’s classic voyeuristic thriller Rear Window with an Arduino users’ club, what would you get?

Probably something close to “Caretaker,” a conceptual art project created by Máté Varga, a student at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary

“The concept comes from a personal experience of moving into the flat where I’m living now for my studies,” Varga told Digital Trends. “I felt like I was being observed by other people living in the opposite building. This happened at night, when I was turning on the lights in my room, and felt like I was attracting the eyes of other people who could watch me. I’ve been living here for two years now, so I’m used to it, but I wanted to represent that initial feeling.”

“Caretaker” is a scale model of the building in question, with each “room” separated off and capable of lighting up individually, thanks to a line of RGB LEDs. It is, in essence, the perfect interactive night light for the urban paranoia age. “The work is about controlling, being controlled, and endless curiosity,” Varga said.

The battery-powered prototype was built using an Arduino Nano board, and can be easily moved around. “The model is made of wood, cut by laser,” Varga said. “Every window represents an individual room with its own stories. These stories are left to the viewer’s imagination.”

Part of the “art project” nature of “Caretaker” is the assumption that this is going to be a mass-produced product sometime soon. Much to Digital Trends’ disappointment, Varga won’t, in fact, accept pictures of real buildings and design a special laser-cut scale model of any building fans want.

“This is just conceptual,” he said. “The short film is a deep part of the work. I wanted to present it as a real project, to let people imagine what this thing could be, how it could be part of a housing community.”

Still, with his example laid out, it shouldn’t be too difficult for us to create our own versions of “Caretaker.”

Provided we can get photos of our neighbors’ homes without getting arrested in the process, that is!

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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