Memory Capsules

Made by Jason Zhu

Memory Capsules is an interactive installation located on the bridge connecting Google leased buildings on either side of Penn Avenue. Residents of East Liberty are encouraged to share various memories and stories of their experiences. On the bridge, Google employees can learn more about the community and history around them. They can also respond to these memories thus starting a thread that residents below or other Google employees can continue.

Created: September 6th, 2018

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What It Is

Memory Capsules is an interactive installation located on the bridge connecting Google leased buildings on either side of Penn Avenue. Residents of East Liberty are encouraged to share various memories and stories of their experiences. On the bridge, Google employees can learn more about the community and history around them. They can also respond to these memories thus starting a thread that residents below or other Google employees can continue.

The goal of the installation is to encapsulate the memories of East Liberty residents while also engaging the Google and East Liberty communities in a dialogue. The installation also serves to archive the rich history of East Liberty for posterity.

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User Experience

East Liberty residents who pass by the Google Bridge are encouraged to leave a memory at a kiosk underneath the bridge. They are also asked to categorize the memory as angry, happy, scary, and sad. The kiosk collects these memories as text and stores them in a “capsule” above. The capsules are small hollow circles made of LED strips that can display various shades of four colors: red, yellow, green, and blue. The color and its specific shade is determined by the type of memory being shared. Angry memories are red, happy memories are yellow, green memories are scary, and sad memories are blue. This is done to reflect Google’s color palette.

When Google employees walk through the bridge, random LED circles (memory capsules) will light up across the wall. The color coding of the memories helps Google employees choose to view the type of memories that they want to view. Google employees merely need to point to the wall and ask Google to bring up the capsule to learn more about the memory (Think “OK Google” from Google Home). Employees will also have the ability to comment on the memory, beginning a thread that others might continue. This helps them engage with the East Liberty community and learn about its rich history from local residents, some of which are at the brink of being pushed out due to gentrification. Building this understanding between Google employees and East Liberty residents might even help foster a more amicable and understanding relationship.

Below, memory capsules will also light up as East Liberty residents approach the bridge. They can also view these memories via a kiosk below and add to them in much the same way that Google employees can add to them.

As time goes on, there will be more memories than capsules able to hold them so memories will cycle randomly. It would be really interesting to see what a Google employee thinks of a memory from maybe 20 years earlier. An additional consideration is allowing employees to save memories or follow memories so they can be updated when someone else adds to that thread. In essence, this installation should only get better with age.

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Design Requirements

Google’s technologies will be incorporated in a variety of ways. First and foremost, the OK Google function from Google Home is incorporated. Expanding on this, I would use the Voice Actions API from Google to complete these tasks. This would work in conjunction with the Google’s Soli which is a Google ATAP that can detect touchless gesture interactions. This would help people select various memory capsules from the wall without needing to touch the wall and dirty the glass.

As people pass through the bridge, they are able to passively or actively interact with the environment. Passively speaking, employees and East Liberty residents will get to experience the lighting up of various LED circles with Google Colors. These circles are triggered as people walk through the walls, thus creating a passive interaction. On the other hand, those who want to interact with the display can do so and take a break from work. While interacting with the display, employees can learn about the history around them and dive into stories, almost as if they a post from a Facebook page. This experience should be fun and “joyous” for passerby both employees and East Liberty residents. Because of the passive nature of the experience should also be non-intrusive.

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Bill of Materials

- LED Circle Strips to stick onto the wall (powered by solar?)

- Kiosk

- Bluetooth to connect LED Circle Strips together and to connect to Kiosk Data

- Wires

- Motion Sensor

- Google Soli Chips

- Speakers

- Arduino that can process the data

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Memory Capsules is an interactive installation located on the bridge connecting Google leased buildings on either side of Penn Avenue. Residents of East Liberty are encouraged to share various memories and stories of their experiences. On the bridge, Google employees can learn more about the community and history around them. They can also respond to these memories thus starting a thread that residents below or other Google employees can continue.