Investigating the interaction of people, places, systems and objects

The Responsive Environments and Artifacts Lab (REAL) at Harvard Graduate School of Design is a research lab that pursues the design of digital, virtual, and physical worlds as an indivisible whole. It recognizes the all-pervasive nature of digital information and interaction at scales ranging from our bodies to the larger urban contexts we occupy and the infrastructures that support them.

REAL takes an interdisciplinary look at the design of the built environment from the lens of technologically-augmented experiences, with a strong focus on the sustainability and longevity of technology. Putting the human being at the center and forefront, from the micro (bodily sensors, smart product design, augmented interfaces) to the macro (interactive buildings, information infrastructures, communication frameworks), researchers at REAL examine the emerging ways in which technology fuses into the ways we live, work, and play.

What kind of interfaces embrace our social, cultural, and natural landscapes? How does mediated matter permeate our environments, our surroundings, and our personal space? What experiences are truly physical, and what are truly digital today? How can we design for an audience that is rapidly adopting new technologies and what approaches can we take to embody responsiveness in our design decisions?

REAL pursues a design-led approach for the development of alternative models, technologies, and processes to be applied to artifacts and buildings as well as to cities and landscapes, with the ultimate objective of mediating and augmenting the relationship between the individual and the urban environment.