Smart Objects, 2014
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.
The Ticker was programmed using physical computing and its 7 wheels are powered by a servo motor and an Arduino.
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.
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.