Tag Archives: Happylife Home

Project recreates Ray Bradbury’s Happylife Home

Poor old Ray Bradbury: constantly pestered for soundbites by lazy journalists exploiting his oldster’s dislike of the internet (big name + dissenting opinion = linkbait!), and lampooned (or is it celebrated?) in a cuss-laden viral video [NSFW, natch]. This isn’t the future he imagined at all.

At least, not completely. FlowingData points us toward a conceptual project inspired in part by Bradbury’s story “The Veldt”; the Happylife Home analyses the moods and emotions of its occupants and feeds back that data in non-verbal visual forms. As always with such projects, the abstracts and explanations are part of the fun (at least for me):

In the context of national security, criminal activity and human safety, technology is usually seen as a means to an end; however dark or invasive the application, its presence is accepted because the worst case scenario would be infinitely worse. Thus, through these means ‘smart’ technologies are entering our lives and being applied as infallible judges and experts of human character and state.

But with a slight shift in context: applying their powers in the domestic setting, the political justifications are removed allowing us to freely explore these technologies for what they are.

Erm, sure. OK. So what’s the box on the wall do?

We built a visual display linked to the thermal image camera. This employs facial recognition to differentiate between members of the family. Each member has one rotary dial and one RGB LED display effectively acting like emotional barometers. These show current state and predicted state, the predicted state being based on years of accumulated statistical data.

There is no written feedback on emotional state, it is left to the viewer to interpret this final position of the dial: ‘Is it where it was this morning?’ ‘Why has it spun so far round?’

An interesting project, but not one I think I’d want in my home – it’d just add a whole new level of meta-anxiety on top of all the other stressors of life, surely?* Unless the idea is to build a sort of aesthetically abstract form of biofeedback therapy…

[ * Yes, I’m the sort of person who can find themselves worrying about how much or how little worrying I’ve been doing. Never a dull moment, I tell you. ]