EMBODIED SPECULATION AND DESIGN FUTURING
AT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY


In order to better understand the nature and purpose of communal urban spaces, such as the library, we developed an urban game that utilized a science fiction premise, two teams of players who developed their own fictional characters, and an interactive robot prototype. The robot was designed to support our futuristic narrative which suggested that a team of researchers from the future had been sent back to 2015 because they had "lost the ability to learn or acquire new knowledge" due to a breakdown in their universal knowledge databases. Each team was required to bring "objects of knowledge"--however they defined them--back to the robot, and eventually back to their home world. The robot was controlled by one of the players, and had to evaluate the usefulness of each knowledge object that the players brought back. The game was played in the Public Library, and library patrons were encouraged to interact with the players and the robot. Throughout this project, we conducted interviews, character building workshops, and iterated on a number of design and game concepts.     

The front of the robot housed a screen and microphone, which allowed people to interacted with it via speech. The robot, a wizard-of-oz-device operated by one of our players, responded via text on the screen.   

The front of the robot housed a screen and microphone, which allowed people to interacted with it via speech. The robot, a wizard-of-oz-device operated by one of our players, responded via text on the screen. 

 

We set the robot up in the middle of the library atrium, where patrons could see it as they entered the library. Many people were curious and approached the robot to inquire about it; some library patrons interacted with the robot on their own.   

We set the robot up in the middle of the library atrium, where patrons could see it as they entered the library. Many people were curious and approached the robot to inquire about it; some library patrons interacted with the robot on their own. 

 

The robot was designed and built to evoke a living creature. This view of the back showcases its 'legs' and its egg-like shape.   

The robot was designed and built to evoke a living creature. This view of the back showcases its 'legs' and its egg-like shape. 

 

One of the players interacting with the robot, explaining a book that he has chosen from the library.   

One of the players interacting with the robot, explaining a book that he has chosen from the library. 

 


Research Team: Gabriele Ferri, Jason Fu, Shad Gross, Zan Morris, Nancy Smith, Austin Toombs