NEWS

VoxBox: a playful machine that wants your opinions

4 July 2014

When you’re in the middle of a gig, sporting event or community meeting, the last thing you want to do is tell someone with a clipboard how you feel. But getting feedback about what’s good, bad and indifferent is really helpful to make things better and ensure money’s being spent in the right places. A group of researchers from the Intel Cities Research Institute have developed an interactive machine which they hope will encourage crowds to share their feelings, and will be testing it for the first time at the Tour De France in London.

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VoxBox, developed at UCL, is an innovative new way to gather opinions and gauge the mood of communities or crowds at events. Described by researchers as a “tangible questionnaire”, responses are made physically by touching it, rather than filling in out on paper or on a website. People answer questions using a range of sliders, dials and buttons and are guided around by lights and movement.

As well as gathering opinions, VoxBox also allows people to see how their views compare to those of other people by looking at the visualisations presented on the other side of the installation. It is designed to be colourful, highly interactive and playful in appearance, to grab attention and invite people to come and touch it. The motivation is to encourage more people to participate in giving their opinions.

Vox Box’s first appearance will be at the Tour de France Fan Park on Monday 7 July when IMG_0284the Tour passes through London, but it is designed to be used for a range of different types of events. The interface was developed at UCL using the prototyping facilities of the UCL Makespace workshop. Built from laser cut pieces, IKEA storage modules and powered by Arduinos, the VoxBox  is customizable and modular: questions can be changed, and entirely new types of question modules can be added.

Researcher Dr Connie Golsteijn, responsible for much of the physical creation and design of the device, said:

“I remember as a child playing the computer game ‘The Incredible Machine’; it was amazing because you had to pull levers and construct physical mechanisms for things to happen. The design of VoxBox is inspired by this idea. We tried to create a similarly exciting experience of pushing buttons, moving sliders and just seeing what happens: making the ball progress at each stage and expressing your views at the same time through physical interaction.”

One particular application is getting insights and opinions from children, a hard group to assess with traditional questionnaires. The playful aspect of VoxBox is inspired by interactive museum exhibits and designed to gather their opinions in a fun, innovative and engaging way.

VoxBox is a research project conducted by Intel Collaborative Research Institute on Sustainable and Connected Cities  and University College London Interaction Centre. In addition to Dr Golsteijn, Dr Sarah Gallacher works on the software interfaces and Ms Lisa Koeman is producing the visualisations which will show participants what other people are thinking. Dr Lorna Wall, research associate, is leading on the study design and coordination, and Dr Licia Capra and Professor Yvonne Rogers, ICRI leads, complete the research group.

More info on VoxBox is available at www.VoxBoxProject.com

The next opportunity to meet the VoxBox is:

The VoxBox, a tangible questionnaire, gets opinions from the Tour de France crowd

The VoxBox, a tangible questionnaire, gets opinions from the Tour de France crowd

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