If you would have had a mouth
If you would have been a mirror (research/ speculative scenario - 2018)
In our daily interaction with objects around us, we tend to position ourselves at the top of the communication hierarchy. In other words: humans give commands to objects, which follow the orders – not the other way around. This is clearly noticeable in the human-computer interaction. One exception is the moment the ‘Spinning Wheel of Death’ (or a comparable waiting cursor) appears on a computer screen, as if the human user is put on hold by the computer. Typically this evokes very emotional behaviour in the human computer user towards their computer.
Trying to find some clarification about this somewhat odd, but at the same time very identifiable behaviour, I discussed this issue with Peter Ruijten, assistant professor on Human-Like Machines at TUe. Full interview article ‘Human-Computer Relation Status: it’s complicated’ on request.
Fascinated by this specific moment of communication I started a concept for a speculative communication scenario wherein the Spinning Wheel can either turn into a spinning mouth or a mirror screen, depending on the preferences of the computer user. Hereby, the computer user is given the ability to either (1) use this moment for ‘self-reflection’ by having ‘a look in the mirror’ or (2) ask the computer for ‘computer reflection’ by giving the user auditory feedback.
The concept is demonstrated by a short video showing a sketch of how the idea would exist in the ‘virtual world’ together with an installation of a ‘mirror object’ (Object of Self Reflection) and a ‘megaphone object’ (Object of Computer Reflection) that both illustrate the possible new experience of communication.