A neat exhibition that’s opened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) explores the underlying dialogue that goes on with so much of what  permeates our everyday lives, focusing on designs that expand the communication possibilities between people and technology.

With interaction taking the place of the old maxims of form and function as a means of relevancy in the 21st-Century’s digital culture, Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, illustrates how contemporary designers enhance society with integrated combinations of purpose and meaning.

The nearly 200 projects also include more idiosyncratic works like “Kageo” (top left), Japanese for “little shadow,” which creates mysterious and mischievous little creatures from the reflections of common objects, via a webcam and hidden projector. “Pretty maps, Beijing, Manhattan and Tokyo” (middle), sort of an artsy version of Google Earth, is an interactive map that renders multidimensional views of different locales, with cities morphed into colorful abstractions. “El Sajjadah” (bottom) is a rug embedded with a compass module that points the prayerful in the direction of Mecca; the carpet pattern glows brighter as it gets closer to its exact position.

Explaining some of the challenges that lie ahead for El-Sajjadahthis new generation of communication designers, Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA told the New York Times: “There is still an imbalance between the aesthetic value of some projects and their functional value, and designers need to make much more effort to explain what they are doing. This field is moving so fast, but we are still dealing with the old clichés and still adding new ones.”

Some of it weird, all of it mind-provoking, Talk to Me runs through November 7  at MoMA.