Lynn Burke
Stefanie Kleinman
Tak Cheung

Branch Out: Start A Conversation With A Stranger

Branch Out: Start A Conversation With A Stranger is an interactive installation that is designed to allow people in public spaces to speak to each other at a distance.

When Strangers Meet

We have designed and constructed two audio devices that look like tree stumps. Each stump contains "walky-talky" components and speakers and people are able to talk into one stump and be heard through the speaker of the opposite stump. The concept is that these stumps can be placed in public spaces to allow people to speak through them and communicate with new people.

In preparation for this project, we researched many stranger interactions, social behaviors, and public art installations. We aimed to design an installation that was fun and simple to use that would easily translate the message of the importance of communicating with others.

Our target audience is broad and includes anybody who would like to test/use the stumps and talk to other people.

User Scenario
Each of the stumps is placed on either end of a public space. People passing by one stump can speak into the microphone built into the top of the stump and someone passing by the opposite stump can respond. The response is heard through the speaker at the top of each stump.

Strangers can use the stumps as a communication device/tool to talk about anything they like and even try to locate one another.

The stumps are made of cardboard tubes which we painted. The electronic components include walky talkys, speakers, microphones, and batteries. We wanted the pieces to be as attractive and simple as possible while having a clear function and purpose.

We learned a lot from this project. We went through several iterations of the look and feel of the design and also struggled with electronic difficulties when trying to avoid interference with the walky talkies. We needed to balance out the power from the batteries and make sure that the quality of the sound was good so we learned from experimenting with those factors.

We also learned about social behavior and interaction patterns.