Slappable Huggable Media Devices

Instigate change.

I’ve been curious about how people interact and project personality onto inanimate media devices. We often project our desires against them as if they sense and understand our emotional responses to them. I’m interested in changing passive interaction with devices to a more active scenario where the user conditions the device to behave a certain way instead of the devices instructing our etiquette.

Bob microwaves his TV dinner as he synchronizes the sequence of preparing utensils and beverages just in time for his favorite TV show. He switches channels on the TV, tweaks the antennae to perfection and sits himself down. 30 seconds into the show, the reception starts picking up some noise. He calmly gets up and tweaks the antennae again. 3 minutes into readjusting the antennae, his frustration builds up and he begins slapping the TV. The TV oblivious to Bob’s vigourous slapping continues to behave baldy, wavering in and out of perfect reception. Then the TV magically tunes back into the right frequency and reinforces Bob’s slaping habit. Bob thinks, next time slap harder and longer.

This common scenario is what I want to promote. People want to slap their devices, so why not let them. Hug that TV. Let’s teach our devices how to behave.

People slap, pet, hug, and kiss their electronics devices. People have screen saver anxiety and pet their trackpad or shake their mouse to keep their screens awake. Are people afraid of sleeping devices? People love and hate TV. Do people desire more engaging media? A more responsive media? Is it out of a desire to communicate back to the medium? How do end users tame or control media? Tivo is great, but does Tivo know when i’m angry? What effect would disobedient media have on users? Would we learn to treat it right?

My first thought was to make a huggable slappable TV. This TV randomly veers off the selected channel and picks up noise until it is punished with a slap. Immediately, it responds and returns to the right frequency. Likewise, hugging it every so often will keep it on the right frequency and prevent ‘bad’ behaviour. The TV seemed like such a good medium to work with, since i personally have issues with it. I don’t own one, i didn’t grow up with one, and I’m fascinated by how people treat the device with so much have and love.

I found out that analog TV signals are going to become obsolete soon (Feb 2009), so I thought a radio might be a better device for the project. ‘His Master’s Voice’ and the RCA symbol of the dog in front of the phonograph comes to mind.

Working in a similar manner, the radio by default behaves badly, tuning in and out of noisy frequencies, but learns to ‘listen’ to it’s owner through a healthy dose of conditioning (slapping, petting, and hugging).

Single on/off switch

Y axis tilt controls volume of radio

X axis tilt controls frequency adjustment (speaker facing down decreases volume / speaker facing up increases volume)

Z axis tilt senses shake or smack

Radio deviates from set frequency every so often (default 30secs)

Smack or shake / sudden shift in X or Y axis prompts radio change behaviour. If it’s on the set frequency, it deviates into noise, or not on the set frequency, it returns to the proper frequency. Smack feedback via momentary volume increase

Pet or hug / pressure sensor promotes more of current behaviour, so it’s possible to reinforce “good” and “bad” behaviour. Hug feedback via momentary volume decrease

Fur or shag
1/2″ MDF or LDF or acrylic