Storyteller
Masonite, RFID Technology, Lantronix WiPort, LED Lights, Arduino Technology, Asterisk box, and Telephone, October 2006

Storyteller is an intelligent shelf that reads you a story when you take a book off the shelf. This is a working prototype that combines RFID technology and telephony. This project explores engaging interactions and positive reinforcement when people pick a book off the shelf. Instead of reading text on screen, where many advertisements distract the reader, why not pick up a book instead? I was inspired by a colleague's experience. One night after his kids brushed their teeth; they asked if they could call "Elmo", which was a telephony promotion for toothpaste.

Imagine your child taking a book off the shelf, and receiving a call from one of the characters from the book. Now imagine your child simultaneously listening to the character and reading the book. This is an engaging interactive reading experience for your child. There are several stories that are pre-recorded and stored as GSM files in a database. When the RFID reader is triggered, it connects to that recorded file, and plays back the recorded story to the child via telephone/cellular phone. This technology takes reading to another level, so that the child may be more engaged and motivated to read more.

In one iterative dial plan design, I will reappropriate Tim McNerney's The Lonely Little Robot story into a non-linear narrative, where the reader chooses "Delta's" adventure by pressing different extensions. Also, to enhance the readers' experience, I may add a feature where they could record and share an ending with their friends or reading circle.

Currently it is a prototype for children, and I see the "Storyteller" at one specific location limited to synchronous communication, at a library or bookstore. It was a design decision I made because I wanted kids to repeatedly ask parents to take them to these locations. Also, the dial plan's functionality is similar to Moviefone, but instead of movies and showtimes, it stores book tags and audio files. The library or bookstore venues could easily change and store these audio files in a database. Asterisk and dynamic web development could allow flexibility with asynchronous communication, such as having a dial plan trigger a mobile number instead. Asterisk can record caller id numbers, so if you wanted to disconnect in the middle of a chapter, and call back the next day, the dial plan can resume playback of the audio file where you left off. The plan could also be designed so that a user could send a recorded audio file to another number. I may further explore this as an assistive tech device that could help motivate people with low vision and blindness.

Consultants: James Sears

Professors: Tom Igoe, Clay Shirky, Shawn van Avery



patent pending 2006
© 1996-2011 Anne Hong