The Auction Machine has been developed as an experiment for connecting digital online systems to activity in physical space. The Auction Machine is an online art auction software that works with OPENSTUDIO through the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. While RFIDs are commonly being used as IDs, this project approaches RFIDs as interfaces distributed in physical space.
In this auction, each participant has an RFID tag that can send and receive data to the auction software through radio signals. After two or more registered participants are within the radio range of the base station, the auction starts. The Auction Machine displays the names of the current participants and the artwork that is to be auctioned. The price of the artwork changes according to the number of people in the auction. It increases slowly if there are few people, and speeds up as more people join the auction. People stay connected if they think that the art piece is worth the price, or, if not, they leave by turning off their RFID tags. At the end, the last person who stays in the auction automatically gets the artwork and pays the price. When the artwork is sold, all the related information in the database gets updated, and the sale becomes visible as a regular online transaction in the OPENSTUDIO online micro-economy. The Auction Machine connects the virtual OPENSTUDIO system to the activities of multiple people in physical space. Such an interconnected environment creates new types of scenography and spatial continuity that fundamentally affect the way we understand and use space.
The Auction Machine can be set up on any computer that has Internet connection, and its surrounding environment becomes an electronic auction space. The Auction Machine has been used by approximately 20 people (~10 people in the same session simultaneously) during the Media Lab Sponsor Week in Fall 2005.
Mark Weiser. "The Computer for the 21st Century"
David Rokeby. "The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content"