Vibey, 2016

Collaboration with: 
Hao Zhang
Claire Le Nobel

How can new forms of social media change how we exhibit and interpret emotion?

What if everyone implant private audio device into one's auditory cortex for future sound communication? How does this influence people's behaviors triggered by emotional exchange in society?

Vibey is a critical design project that facilitates communication of emotions between people in close proximity who do not know each other. Vibey uses a cellphone app to transmit emotions, and an implant in the auditory cortex (Bone Conductive Speaker) to receive emotions from other people. It is prototyped through this transduction headset. The receiver is implanted by choice. But, once the receiver is implanted, it cannot be turned off. It is a social convention similar to having Facebook or owning a cell phone, which is to draw attention to the fact that we are conditioned to think about social media at all times, even subconsciously.

Smart phone is 'extension of our body' indispensable for everyday life.
Since this portable device 'sticks' to our body, we cannot control unwanted calls, spams, advertisements and fake news. At the same time, we seek for a device that is extremely invisible and 'seamless' for communication. We imagined what if we implant audio device within our body for 'seamless' communication? and how can people abuse this seamlessness and medium itself become an uncontrollable violence?

Device components:
Implanted audio device (Bone Conductive Speaker)
Smartphone application connected to audio sensor

1. Sports Game Stadium
What would happen if a Vibey user was at a sports game where hundreds of people were broadcasting their emotions? The information overload would detract from the immediate experience of the game, and the broadcasted emotions would become a clutter of noise. Users would need to develop a form of psychological filtering, which would allow them to focus on the cause of the emotions, or perhaps a single user's emotion.

1-2. Cocktail Party Effect
One possibility for psychological filtering is through the cocktail party effect, which enables people to focus their attention on a specific sound source while blocking out extra information. This is done through a combination of binaural sound processing, visual correlation with a sound source, and detection of information that is deemed important.

2. Tokyo Subway during rush hour
Opposite to the scenario in Sports Game stadium, that stimulates spectator’s emotional fluctuations, Tokyo subway is famous for its’ silent commuting environment. What would it be like if Vibey users cannot help broadcast their emotion pack of people in subway? It can embarrass japanese commuter who reluctant to expresses one’s emotion in public space.

welcome_vibey from won on Vimeo.

Project Brief
This project uses prototyping to explore the potential of a metaphor – stickiness – for design. We are not solving a problem or designing a product. Instead we are using the process of making as a way to dig into a topic and find where there is potential for novelty, affordance, meaning, aesthetics and other aspects that would be inspiring, provocative, interesting, or useful for design.

Specifically, your project should focus on the possibilities around stickiness and data exchange. In a near future world where large amounts of personal data is collected, processed, stored, and exchanged amongst a wide range of devices, both on our bodies and in our environments, how is this data moved around and what are the affordances and characteristics of this exchange? How might stickiness serve as a metaphor for different kinds of data exchange?

Lab Core B: Critical Prototyping
Phil Van Allen
2016 Fall