Che-Wei Wang

slaHuRa : Slappable Huggable Radio

SlaHuRa or Slappable Huggable Radio is a FM radio that uses an accelerometer to change volume and frequency and behaves badly.

Introduction to Physical Computing - Wed PM (Igoe),Media Change

SlaHuRa behaves or misbehaves depending on how you treat it. It likes to be hugged, but once in a while it will misbehave and go off onto a random frequency. To make it behave and again, just slap it to teach it to behave. Likewise, hugging SlaHuRa will promote good behaviour through positive reinforcement.

It “behaves” (stays on the chosen frequency) in direct proportion to how long you “hug” (or hold the radio). The longer you hug it, the longer it will behave. Once you place it back onto a flat surface, it begins to feel axious, and will eventually flip out. If it is behaving “badly” (on a random frequency) you can slap the radio to get it back onto the right frequency.

My first thought was to make a huggable slappable TV. This TV randomly veers off the selected channel and picks up noise until it is punished with a slap. Immediately, it responds and returns to the right frequency. Likewise, hugging it every so often will keep it on the right frequency and prevent ‘bad’ behaviour. The TV seemed like such a good medium to work with, since i personally have issues with it. I don’t own one, i didn’t grow up with one, and I’m fascinated by how people treat the device with so much have and love.

I found out that analog TV signals are going to become obsolete soon (Feb 2009), so I thought a radio might be a better device for the project. ‘His Master’s Voice’ and the RCA symbol of the dog in front of the phonograph comes to mind.

Working in a similar manner, the radio by default behaves badly, tuning in and out of noisy frequencies, but learns to ‘listen’ to it’s owner through a healthy dose of conditioning (slapping, petting, and hugging).

User Scenario
Bob microwaves his TV dinner as he synchronizes the sequence of preparing utensils and beverages just in time for his favorite TV show. He switches channels on the TV, tweaks the antennae to perfection and sits himself down. 30 seconds into the show, the reception starts picking up some noise. He calmly gets up and tweaks the antennae again. 3 minutes into readjusting the antennae, his frustration builds up and he begins slapping the TV. The TV oblivious to Bob’s vigourous slapping continues to behave baldy, wavering in and out of perfect reception. Then the TV magically tunes back into the right frequency and reinforces Bob’s slaping habit. Bob thinks, next time slap harder and longer.

This common scenario is what I want to promote. People want to slap their devices, so why not let them. Hug that TV. Let’s teach our devices how to behave.

People slap, pet, hug, and kiss their electronics devices. People have screen saver anxiety and pet their trackpad or shake their mouse to keep their screens awake. Are people afraid of sleeping devices? People love and hate TV. Do people desire more engaging media? A more responsive media? Is it out of a desire to communicate back to the medium? How do end users tame or control media? Tivo is great, but does Tivo know when i’m angry? What effect would disobedient media have on users? Would we learn to treat it right?