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June 27, 2004 7:40 PM   Subscribe

VirtualEmployeeFilter: management made the receptionist position redundant. I have been set with the *fun* task to create a Digital Receptionist Installation that responds to events in the foyer as people approach the desk. [more inside room 101]

I have experience with director/flash, but i need to find out more about the environmental feedback paraphenalia that sends system events to the virtual receptionist mac to trigger video responses on a big plasma screen.

My question to set me on the path of this fun project is: where do i go about finding USB powered light emitter thingys or pressure sensitive pads to plug into a mac to make this installation happen? What is this stuff called? Is there specialist software for this kind of operation ( i am assuming that feedback mechanisms can be rebinded to system keypress or mouseclick events usable by flash or director).
posted by elphTeq to Technology (9 answers total)
Response by poster: Just when I thought google was failing me, i found the right search terms:

It looks like I am after tangible user interfaces (TUIs) - phidgets (physical widgets) look like what I need, but i was hoping for devices that have a more designer-friendly (mac OS X) control interface, as opposed to progammer/AI/droid expert toys. Any suggestions?
posted by elphTeq at 8:07 PM on June 27, 2004

For widgety bits, try this. I haven't tried them myself, but the price is right, they support OSX, and you can use Flash.
posted by aramaic at 8:11 PM on June 27, 2004

You might want to check out this web site for some ideas as well.
posted by neurodoc at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2004

My condolences on landing such a repulsive assignment.
A human used to do that.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:34 PM on June 27, 2004

Response by poster: aramaic, that's exactly what i was looking for! cheers!

i ? askmefi!
posted by elphTeq at 8:34 PM on June 27, 2004

A warning: I was on a project for a huge mutual-fund company's HQ with exactly the same mission: replace the receptionist with a custom hardware/software installation. We spent a million bucks or so on it, and in the end had a really amazing kiosk, which could welcome you when you walked up to it, take your name, print directions to your meeting, &c. - and a receptionist sitting at a desk next to it. Be cause the fact is, your clients are too important to let them be frustrated by even a well-designed user interface; only a human being can flexibly accommodate confused, lost, late, angry, rich human beings.
posted by nicwolff at 9:14 PM on June 27, 2004

Response by poster: thanks for the warning nicwolff, but this is more of a bit of a "fill the empty space" art installation in a comedy/ light hearted vein. It's not a receptionist replacement, but a cunning ruse to entertain clients if their account executive is not already there to meet them. Supplementary functionality will be delicious intra office practical joke mayhem.

Also, for the robot haters out there, the meatspace receptionist was promoted, only her position was made redundant, no lifestyles were harmed in the origination of this AI concept :)
posted by elphTeq at 9:52 PM on June 27, 2004

This seems like an AI-complete sort of problem.
posted by bshort at 8:38 AM on June 28, 2004

I think you should stick a mini-itx based pc inside a real doll. Just a thought.
posted by mecran01 at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2004

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