Sadly I couldn’t be at Interaction ‘12 in Dublin this week, so I’ve been vicariously soaking up the vibe (but not the alcohol) on Twitter and the IxDA conference blog. This year was the first ever Interaction Awards and the winners were just announced.

My absolute favorite was CIID student Ishac Bertran’s Pas a Pas project, which won the Best Student category. The video above explains it best, but Betran describes the project as

an interactive educational tool for schools that enables children to learn and experiment with different sets of elements using animation. It aims to use the physicality and the animated outcome of stop motion animation to bridge the gap between abstract concepts from maths, physics or arts (usually represented by graphs, equations or words) and reality.

As the father of a nearly three year-old daughter who goes to a kindergarten that has a lot of Montessori input and who also loves to grab my iPad and play with it, I really loved the crossover analogue-digital nature of Pas a Pas. The retro hi-fi look of the product design of it really works so well with the concept too. An invitation to play if there ever was one.

Best In Show went to LoopLoop, a tiny sequencer made using Sifteo cubes. It is very cute, but for me was more a re-hash of many a sound toy I’ve seen (and designed) than anything really re-thought. Most of all, more effort seemed to go into the interaction design than the irritating plinky-plonk sound design, which I think is a shame, although this often happens with such toys.

Best Concept went to Out of the Box, a clever way of telling people learn about their new smartphone in an analogue way. It’s basically a book with sections cut out of various pages in which the phone and its parts sit. As the user turns the page, the book tells them how to interact with the physical object. I can’t help feeling it’s a little unwieldy, but very cleverly worked out nonetheless.

The People’s Choice were the Interaction Cubes, which are a nice, low-tech way of creating an interactive periodic table. The analogue aspect of this seemed to connect with people.

(p.s. Don’t forget to go and check out the Interaction 12 Student Design Challenge. It’s a different competition in which finalists compete on-site during the conference. I co-chaired it last year.)

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