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Meeting Mediator








Columbia 2019 Fall

Instructor: Violet Whitney

                  Gabrielle E. Brainard


How could space be responsive to people’s activities and create a dynamic atmosphere? In the project, the table becomes a mediator that could break the ice, to make the meeting more efficient, and to change the atmosphere of the casual talk.


A. Awkwardness, Inefficiency, Fixed Atmosphere

We've all have different kinds of meetings. During the meeting, have you ever encounter some awkward moments of long silence that we were all trying to find a topic to get a conversation to continue? Or have you encountered a situation that people were talking about different things and the meeting was inefficient? Or have you wished to talk in a more pleasant atmosphere that could react to your activities?



B. Table As a Mediator

What if the table is no longer a static object, but it could moderate the atmosphere, throw out topics, and help the meeting go more efficiently?



C. Four Hat Thinking Modes

It helps a lot in a meeting that people could provide ideas from different perspectives. If people could think in different thinking modes, the meeting could be more efficient and issues people are discussing could have a more comprehensive result. I came up with the following four kinds of thinking modes: critical, objective, time-sensitive, and intuitive, that are complementary to each other.

Reference: Daci Decision Making Framework & Six Hat Thinking Mode

Six Thinking Hats was written by Dr. Edward de Bono. "Six Thinking Hats" and the associated idea parallel thinking provides a means for groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, and in doing so to think together more effectively.



D. Prototype

I used processing and reacTIVision to quickly prototype the real user scenario. The markers represent users, the white circle represent the real table, and the image is what would project around the table.


1. Ice Breaker

We have all encounter situations that several people sitting together but could not find a topic to break the ice. What if the system of the ambient space could detect the silence and if the silence goes for a while, it helps us to find a topic?

2. Formal Meeting

In a group discussion situation, the system could help with cueing the meeting process to make sure the meeting goes efficiently. Four kinds of thinking modes could come into play and ensure that different topics are all covered in a meeting. The spotlight will cast on the people who will speak, and the different hints will project in front of the speaker at different times during the meeting to suggest the speaker's way of thinking, and the content the speaker could expand on.


3. Casual Talking

What if the system could create an atmosphere (sound, image) when you are sitting next to other people or talking with other people? Whether it is romantic/ intense/ smoothing/… The system would detect the distance of people, and project different visual image and sound effect to make the environment that echos with the activities.


D. Setting-up

My friend Qi helped me set up a rack for holding the projector. The projector is then hung on top of the round table on the 4th floor of Avery. I then adjusted the mapping to fit the table.



E. User-Test

I invited my classmates and friends to participate in the three modes of testing. 


Formal Meeting mode, discussing an architecture project:


Ice breaker mode, they are not familiar with each other:


Ice breaker mode, discussing different topics and they began to get familiar with each other:


E. Documentation

The final documentation of three modes of meeting mediator:

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