A team of creators explore the scary thought of Digital Rights Management protocols being applied to real-world objects.
DRM is hated at its worst, tolerated at its best, and is (at the moment) exclusive to digital media: videogames, movies, ebooks and music. "Limited installs," which limit the amount of times you can re-install a game, is a form of DRM most PC gamers have wrestled with at one point or another. But what if such DRM was applied to real-world objects? A team of creators working on a global project called The Deconstruction have put together the world's first "DRM Chair," which falls apart after being used just eight times.
At a casual glance, the DRM Chair looks just like your average everyday wooden chair. However, a special built-in mechanism and sensor count how many people have sat in it, emitting a loud clicking noise to indicate the number of uses left after a person stands up. After eight people have used the chair, its joints start smoking, melting the special material that holds the chair together and causing it to collapse into a heap of parts after just a few seconds.
The Deconstruction is a global project for creators, described as "a game about re-thinking the world as we know it, taking it apart, making a few adjustments, then putting it back together a little awesome-er." Teams participate by thinking up and building projects in a short time frame. The DRM Chair was thought up and put together in just 48 hours.
The chair certainly makes some interesting commentary about the nature of DRM, and how something we have come to begrudgingly accept on our digital media seems absolutely absurd when applied to real-world objects. Most recently, "Always-Online" DRM has been making gamers froth at the mouth. Ubisoft vowed to discontinue the practice after heavy criticism, while EA's recent SimCity launch was a complete disaster, mostly due to its always-online requirement.