In Case of Awkward Silence

In Case of Awkward Silence is a playful prototype that interrupts a socially awkward moment by blasting pop music to the embarrassed users.

Individual Project at ArtCenter College of Design

UX Design, Physical Computing

Arduino, Rapid Prototype, Photography

Occasionally we encounter embarrassing experiences like awkward silence with people we have just met. This project provides a solution to break the dead air with a playful, awkwardness-resolving device.

The device is made of a cardboard box and LED lights programmed with Arduino, and users can mount it on their head to enter the "chatroom." After entrance, the users are free to talk to each other without anything happening within the device. However, whenever the users sense awkward silence, they have a choice to "detonate" the box to resolve the situation. Once the device is activated, the device will start playing a top pop hit and LED lighting effects. According to the questionnaires collected afterwards, this device successfully prolongs the conversation and mediates the awkwardness. Moreover, this device works even better when deployed on total strangers.

For further iterations, it is worth exploring adjustments of distance between the users and the technology which mediates user engagement (e.g. skype or avatar). With these parameters, possible discussions include the difference between virtual and physical presence, and the courtesies of new technological communication dynamics.