Talk To Me

A dark, clear fountain reveals insights to colorful sediments of data.

Continuously drifting, weaving and organizing, each stone carries

memories of encounters filled with joy, sadness and fear.

Talk To Me

Talk to me is an abstract interactive installation to experience a conversation with an artificial entity. Each statement made by the user shapes a unique pebble falling into a well of data. Once the user leaves the installation, its stones transform to data sculptures illustrating a collected set of critical thoughts and hopes.

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Project

A rapidly aging society has to face an accelerating evolution of technology. The exhibition „NEW OLD“ at Design Museum London, explores the chances and conflicts of this collision. Artificial Intelligence and the discussion about its cultural and social impacts are immanent. The design and innovation consultancy IDEO approached us with a thrilling concept for the exhibition, to visualize the discussion of possibilities, fears and opportunities of the ongoing evolution of AI – with an AI. Excited by the idea to break down a tech driven trend to social needs, we designed and implemented an abstract user interface to guide the guests through a conversational experiment.

Visual Exploration

To illustrate the communication we completly avoided classical UI elements and portrayed an oracle-like-scene of a well of water and stones. Our approach embodies the artificial intelligence as the water itself. Therefore its presence is not limited or rigid, but ubiquitous. We introduced a natural, shape shifting element which stimulates small waves at its surface as it speaks. The stones slowly traveling the floor of the well are held by the water as data. They represent individual conversations of the past. Once a user approaches the installation the well generates an individual stone for that session, shaping its form and determining its colors based upon the type of emotions expressed by the user’s statement.

Data Viz

The Data Sculptures communicate the quantity of a certain emotion among the recorded conversations in an abstract way. Each sculpture is an interpretation of its corresponding emotion (anger, joy, neutral, fear, disgust, sadness). To design the architecture of those geometries, we decided to avoid any classical noise procedure such as perlin, random, simplex or curl. Instead we utilized many different combinations and frequencies of sine waves. To design exclusively by the usage of sine waves is a challenging task, yet it offered us the possibility to visualize different characters of data bodies in a common mathematical language.

The Conversation

One of our most joyful findings were the answers given by the users. As our AI “spirit” approaches the guests – he always opens the chat with a curated set of questions to guide the conversation in the right direction. The following number of excerpts were recorded at the Design Museum London, between the 12 of January and 19 of February 2017.

What makes you happiest?

I like my cat

Not speaking to machines

Creating new things and solving problems

My marriage and being a parent

 

What would you be scared of forgetting?

My children

My name, other peoples names

All of my Lord of the rings knowledge

My childhood memories

 

How do you picture yourself living when you’re older?

I will have a lot of new friends and family

Being Beyoncé

I would like to be more important

In the Playboy mansion

I’ll be dead

 

How do you feel about having kids when you’re 90?

Sounds alright to me yes

I’m too old to have children and I’m 19

I feel scared because soon they will probably destroy the world

 

Would you trust an Artificial Intelligence to choose your friends?

It would creep me out

You could give me good ideas

My best friend is Jesus

Yeah is Brenda home

 

If you lived to be 120, how many partners would you want to have?

Bro a thousand

One that’s because my husband is here

Not your business

In the 120 years just my husband hopefully

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Backend

The backend and setup is implemented by ideo. It consists of two components: The audio booth and the large display facing it.
To know when somebody was present in the booth, an arduino is used with an ultrasonic sensor speaking to an iphone 6 via bluetooth. The iPhone is connected to a directional microphone and a speaker. The app turns the voice into text using, analyses its emotional state via IBM Watson and checks the script for answers. Then, it send the information about the answer and emotions to the visual application written in vvvv via OSC.

Visual Tools

vvvv
dx11 (Mr. VUX)

Credits

Artistic Direction: Christian Mio Loclair

Generative Design: Marta Soto Morras

Typography: Johannes Poell

Soundtrack: kling klang klong

Concept and Backend: IDEO

Commisioned: IDEO

Exhibition: Design Museum London

 

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