Rationale and concept
I’ll be working with Dalit on a final app – and we’ve decided to take a critical look at how mobile technology inserts itself into our lives by making a satirical ‘conversation helper’ app. It’s based on the assumption that as computers get better at decoding what we mean, they’ll become more aggressive in their attempts to grab our attention. If my computer knows I’m thinking about buying a new coat, it will start pointing out when I walk past a store that has coats on sale. It will inject itself into my world. Phones already do this to a large extent, but what happens when we start relying on our phones to help us through a conversation? What if we get to a point where we need our phones listening to us and guiding us through our daily encounters?
So that’s where we’re starting. Imagine we’re living in a world when people need to be told what to talk about, or to stop at that store because that coat they want is on sale. Without being explicitly told by their phone, they are lost. Our app will make commentary on this idea.
So what will the app actually do?
It will listen to a conversation between two people. As it captures audio, it will analyze it for keywords that it knows (which we’ll probably pre-program for the sake of prototyping). When it hears a word that it has in it’s database, it’ll chime in to the conversation, without being prompted, and start reciting some information about whatever it heard. For example, if it hears the keyword ‘shoes’, it’ll pop up an add for a sale going on right now at a nearby shoe store. If it hears the name of a famous actor, it’ll pull up their IMDB page, and recite some of their most recent movies, or news stories involving that actor. If it hears the word ‘politics’ or the name of a presidential candidate, it’ll pull up some stats about that candidate, or some information about what’s happening in politics in the news right now.
Inspiration for our digital assistant