Auction Machine was an online-onsite hybrid art auction software for the OPENSTUDIO art market. Auction Machine demonstrated a participant-controlled time based auction for artworks in the OPENSTUDIO economy utilizing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to interface with the auction software service.

In the auction, each participant has an RFID tag that sends and receives 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 begins. Auction Machine displays the names of the current participants and the artwork that is to be auctioned on a screen visible to all participants. 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.

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.

Auction Machine was developed so that it can be set up on any computer that has Internet connection, and its surrounding environment becomes a magnetic auction space. The Auction Machine has been used by approximately by 20 people simultaneously during the Media Lab Sponsor Week in Fall 2005.

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