Smart Objects, 2014

Collaboration with Brandon Washington & Michie Cao

The Ticker is a smart object concept design - a conversation starter that connects up to 3 people’s social media accounts and displays commonalities between them in the form of a cryptic, 7-letter code word.  It leverages social media data to start more face-to-face conversations and get people away from their phones.

The most informative insight the Ticker addresses is that people use information from their social media networks to start conversations, but the overload of information makes it hard for them to find shared interests.  We asked, how can we start relevant conversations between strangers in a social setting?

Both the information output and the form of the Ticker are straightforward and low-tech as a counterpart to today’s smart gadgets.  The form is inspired by the traditional analog split-flap display boards in train stations and board game tiles, which both have a way of gathering people.  The sound and movement of flapping charms its users. Analog and whimsical, the Ticker is a crowd pleaser that frees people from awkard situations in social settings.

Product Ecosystem: How the Ticker Works To use the Ticker, users tap their phones to the object, which syncs their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Using this data, the Ticker provides a conversation starter code word that is relevant to all the participants. The Ticker gauges surrounding noise levels with a built-in microphone. It displays words more frequently at moments when the noise level is low and conversations are at a lull.

Product Ecosystem: How the Ticker Works

To use the Ticker, users tap their phones to the object, which syncs their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Using this data, the Ticker provides a conversation starter code word that is relevant to all the participants.

The Ticker gauges surrounding noise levels with a built-in microphone. It displays words more frequently at moments when the noise level is low and conversations are at a lull.

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The Ticker was programmed using physical computing and its 7 wheels are powered by a servo motor and an Arduino.

Research Designing around the topic of socializing, we began by analyzing the social trends today and looking at what current apps/ smart products exist in the socializing world. We learned: 39% of people spend more time socializing online than in person and 33% of people are more likely to speak to someone new online than in person.  With the rise of digital socializing, social awkwardness is a growing problem.

Research

Designing around the topic of socializing, we began by analyzing the social trends today and looking at what current apps/ smart products exist in the socializing world.

We learned: 39% of people spend more time socializing online than in person and 33% of people are more likely to speak to someone new online than in person.  With the rise of digital socializing, social awkwardness is a growing problem.

Ideation We sketched 50+ concept ideas before arriving at the conversation starter smart object concept.  

Ideation

We sketched 50+ concept ideas before arriving at the conversation starter smart object concept.

 

Inspiration The Ticker takes inspiration from Google Now, which understands the user's contextual needs and shows relevant information and recommendations when they need it in the form of "cards." For the Ticker, we envisioned that it would use contextual and relevant conversation starter topics to participants in a social setting int he form of code words.

Inspiration

The Ticker takes inspiration from Google Now, which understands the user's contextual needs and shows relevant information and recommendations when they need it in the form of "cards." For the Ticker, we envisioned that it would use contextual and relevant conversation starter topics to participants in a social setting int he form of code words.

Concept Prototyping and User Testing

In order to see if code words from social media data would be interesting conversation starters, we prototyped and conducted user tests.  Pairs and groups of 3 were given a code word based on similarities from their social media accounts.  The participants found the exercise to be engaging, enjoyable, and sensible, concluding that this conversation starting method would be successful in our society today. This prototype was crucial to the development of our concept.

Behavior Chart This chart shows how the users behavior affects the device's inputs and outputs.

Behavior Chart

This chart shows how the users behavior affects the device's inputs and outputs.

Structure Prototyping and Building

The form of the structure evolved from a simple concept prototype to a working split flap display, which involved engineering gears and connecting the wheels to a servo motor.