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Anthony Quinn, Emily Clare Thorn, Steve Benford, Boriana Koleva, Richard Mortier

We are all programmers now! The hand crafting of visual recognition codes.

Anthony Quinn, Emily Clare Thorn, Prof Steve Benford, Prof Boriana Koleva, Prof Richard Mortier

Affiliation: University of Nottingham, Central Saint Martins, Aestheticodes Limited

Key words: Creativity, Interaction, Design

Conference activity: Presentation Thurs 10th July, Demonstration Fri 11th July

Project summary:

Aestheticodes is a new image recognition system that is based on the act of drawing. The transition from computer generated QR codes to a more aesthetically pleasing hand crafted aestheticode presents an exciting opportunity though not without some challenges of interacting with such patterns. Images can be encoded by following a simple set of drawing rules that enable an interaction using a smart phone. The aestheticodes system makes the generation of human computer interaction more unique, more playful, more crafted and more human.

This Paper will explore the idea of designing beautiful imagery and decorative patterns that contain multiple visual codes. It will document the iterative design process, wherein the designers learned to work with and creatively exploit the technology, enriching their patterns with embellishments and backgrounds and developing strategies for embedding codes into complex designs.

We argue for a transition from designing ‘codes to patterns’ that reflects the skills of designers alongside the development of new technologies and new image recognition possibilities. The paper will present future potentials for the application of aestheticodes and raise questions around the implementation of aestheticodes in the real world.

The aestheticodes team will also provide a demonstration of the technology wherein participants will learn to ‘program’ their own aestheticode.


Meese R, Ali S, Thorne E, Benford S, Quinn A, Mortier R, Boriana Koleva B, Pridmore T, Baurley S, From Codes to Patterns: Designing Interactive Decoration for Tableware. CHI 2013 Paris.


One question that arises from your project:

How can we encourage a move from clumsy computer centered recognition devices to a creative, human centered solution that has infinite visual potential?