Smile to, 2017-2020

Interaction Design, Uncategorized

Smile-To is a series of work that involve computer-vision and facial expression exploring the theme of ‘what it feels like to have your emotions read by the computer’

Smile To See (2020)

Mirror, fabric and camera | 40cm x 35cm

Smile To See (2020) is an interactive mirror inspired by personal experience at the visa centre in UK.

Recent replacement of the registration process at the visa centre from ‘human-to-human’ to ‘computer-to-human’ has caused miss-recognition of my face feature which took multiple tries until it eventually accepted. In order to make myself more recognisable by the computer and its face-recognition algorithm, I had to try open my eyes wider while standing in front of the camera.

This misinterpretation of my face by the computer-vision and then, having to ‘calibrating’ myself to comply with the system sparked many thoughts.

How do I feel about this, and who hold responsible for these intelligent machines..

Smile to see was built as a reflection to this experience. To interact with this mirror, you must smile. This mirror is equipped with a supervised learning algorithm that detects your smile based on my smile and only allows you to see yourself when you are smiling like me. i.e. your lips cannot be wider than 75mm.

This slow interaction with the mirror makes the audiences to experience what it feels like to have your emotion read by the computer and what is it like to feign our emotion to a non-human entity. The compounded expression in the manipulated smile questions what it means to have a relationship with fully conscious artificial intelligent.

UKVI, Croydon

The door that opens when you smile (2017)

The ‘smiling door’ began with curiosity on how the internal space could reflect on the mood of its users, and this door was proposed as a one of its experiment. Door is a symbolic feature of the control which has only two binary states of either open or close. Built as a statement, focus of this project is to provide the audience an experience of what it feels like to have your emotions read and controlled by the computer. 


Featured on Fast Company design : by Katharine Schwab

While developing the project and testing out the door, I have noticed that being forced to smile made some users uncomfortable. But instead of tweaking the interface to make the smile more like a “button” that users could smile once to push the door open. I actually lengthened the time it took for the door to open and the user had to stay smiling until the door was fully opened.

This intentionally compounded the feeling of awkwardness–and drew attention to the fact that the machine is analysing the user’s expression.

The project uses computer-vision to regonise the landmarks of the face and the machine learning(AI)  analyses the facial expression of the participants, decides whether there is a smile or not and if smile is detected it opens the door.

The video of the project was shared on Twitter and has brought various negative reflection despite being clearly stated that the project was developed as a symbolic representation and not as a commercial product.

Majority of the re-tweets and comments were upset, concerned with the feeling of disempowerment and threatened by the automated object.