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Social Object : Idea Development


I started of the project with the subject of communication because of the problem we are currently facing with. Nowadays, we tend to use our phones everywhere and almost every time. We choose to give our attentions to the bits that we like and we turn to our technologies such as smartphones or tablets during the boring bits. We use it in the classroom, in a meeting, and even during funeral. We don’t interact and have face-to-face conversation with other people like we used to and prefer to turn to our technology whenever we can.

All of these technologies are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies :

  • We can put our attention wherever we want it to be

  • We will always be heard

  • We will never have to be alone

That third idea, that we will never have to be alone, is central to changing our psyches.


Sherry Turkle the author of the book, Alone Together, said in one of the TED talks that, if we don’t have conversations with others, how are we going to learn to have conversations with ourselves? This is important to reflect ourselves. We have now replaced our conversations to connections. But the problem with this is that, if we don't have connection, we don't feel like ourselves. We almost don't feel ourselves. So what do we do? We connect more and more. But in the process, we set ourselves up to be isolated.


She also mentioned about how we can end up from connection to isolation and when this happens, we're not able to appreciate people and who they are. It's as though we're using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self. If we're not able to be alone, we're going to be more lonely because solitude can have a huge impact in our life. Solitude helps us to understand ourselves.

From the research that I have gathered, I wanted to build a helmet that can translate brainwaves into binaural beats and play it to the user’s ear, which will be a representation of being solitude and having conversation with yourself. The Binaural beats was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove and earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims coming from the alternative medicine community that binaural beats could help induce relaxation, meditation, creativity and other desirable mental states.


After I presented the idea, Nicolas said that this will be an anti-social object rather than social object as it will only be experienced by the person who wears it. One of my classmates who have experienced working with EEG headset told me that the device translates inaccurate brainwaves and this would take away my main point. Taking all of their comments and suggestions, I looked into the subject of autonomous weapon system, which is the brief for another project that we have.

For the autonomous weapon brief, I stumbled upon the SGR A1 Samsung Techwin sentry guns currently deployed in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, are capable of automatically identifying a human target and firing on it. This made me think and questioned, why are we handing the power to kill to machines? Does lack of face-to-face interaction makes us care less about others until we decide to let the machines do the killings for us?


SGR A1 Samsung Techwin

Thus, this led me to make a device with the same function with the SGR A1 Samsung Techwin sentry gun but instead of tracking and shooting to kill people, my sentry gun will track and shoot to connect people and encourage them to have face-to-face conversation with people they don’t know. This is a respond to the problem that I raised in the beginning of my research where people tend to use technology to avoid having conversation with others. I used the Rapid Ethnography (the tribe) approach from the IDEO Method Cards for this project because I think this will be a great design intervention device for places that have lack of interaction such as conferences and exhibitions where people always do their own thing or only interact with the group they are in.

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