First date? Meeting friends of friends? Family gatherings with people you aren’t quite sure how you’re related to? Lauren McCarthy’s Conversacube is an interactive device which aims to eliminate conversational awkwardness by guiding and prompting users on what to say in order to effortlessly navigate such situations.
The Conversacube is placed in the centre, with one side facing each user. Each face of the cube has a small screen to display prompts and a microphone to monitor audio levels and speech. Users are guided individually on how to respond in order to achieve smooth and attentive conversation. It also comes in different sizes for pairs or groups.
This gadget is both a conversation aid and an interactive device which generates physical and social interaction among users. At first glance, Conversacube may seem like an unnecessary novelty or a fun party gimmick. However, it brings up important questions about our modern social environment such as our reliance on technology, as well as social norms and behaviour. Will we eventually depend on a device to teach us how to be human? What soft aspects of ‘being human’ will we lose (or have we lost?) as we strive for innovation and efficiency? With redeuced face-to-face communication and increased dependence on virtual communication such as texting and social media, such a reality may not be too far away.