Hack #3: Build a Bear
For this week I called my hack Build a Bear. For those who don’t know, Build a Bear is a current store in which you…build a bear. You select a bear to fluff and stuff with cotton, then you go over to the clothing section of the store, and choose different clothing for your bear, and customize it however you want. I used this type of idea mixed with various other ideas, including critical play, conceptual design and also an object to make us think, to create my bear.
My bear was designed to have a cyborg like feeling about him. I have aluminum foil wrapped around his arms, legs, and head to show how he isn’t made up of common daily clothes. He also has the Circuit Playground stuck to his chest to show that he is far from your normal bear (iron man inspired). I also made the decision to keep his wires outside his body instead of putting them inside, and having them a bit harder to see. I did this to show how unbear like, this bear really is. Through the process of “Build a Bear” I created a bear that is arguable, not bear like at all.
In addition to the physical aspects of my bear, I also added a voice box inside him using the Circuit Playground. However, unlike your usual talking bear, which only speaks nice and caring phrases and has a very loving personality, I literally split his personality into two halves. His right side is a nice caring loving side which include the two phrases, “You can do it!” and “You are one in a milli”, while his left side is more critical and mean, saying phrases “I do not like you” and “Shut up right now…Please”. In addition to his split personality by left and right side, I made his head say a sarcastic comment, “Sorry about it”.
I will now delve deeper into the mixed and various other ideas I had while creating my bear including the above, critical play, conceptual design, and an object to make us think more about the world we live in.
The first topic I will discuss is the idea of critical play. Hack number 2 was about critical play, so I took some of the ideas from that hack and applied it to this hack, in particular the argumentative and despising nature of the bear(the left side). By exploiting the once thought of as kind nature of this stuffed bear, we are able to create cognitive friction between the bear, and its user. The user expects something kind and sweet from the bear, however, when he or she touches the left side of the bear, is met with an unexpectedly harsh response. I wanted the response to take the user by surprise and in their hear say, “Did this bear really just say that?”. The response also causes the user to think differently about the bear, maybe even hating the left side of the bear. I wanted to convey the message that not everything is as it seems and that some things are like a double sided knife. You can both love and hate the same thing at the same time.
The next subject I will dive deeper into for this hack is the idea of conceptual design. According to Google, “Conceptual Design is an umbrella term given to all forms of non-aesthetic design management disciplines. It is an early phase of the design process, in which the broad outlines of function and forms are articulated. It includes the design of interactions, experiences, processes and strategies.” To incorporate conceptual design into my hack I designed the bear in a particular way. As described above, I constructed the bear to be and resemble more of a cyborg. Although we can clearly see it is a bear, we can also clearly see it has been tampered with and isn’t truly one hundred percent bear. There is more technology involved in it, and it seems more complex than your usual stuffed bear. This design feature causes the user to become more distant from the bear because it seems not as loveable and huggable. Normally people view stuffed bears to always be there for them and really just a big object that conveys kindness and care, however, that is not the case for this bear. The bear is designed to cause users to consider why they have this bear, and consider what it’s real purpose is. It is designed to look like a cyborg after its reskin, but before it was an object for people to go to for comfort. The boundaries of this hack and the line between loving bear, and futuristic cyborg, has been pushed and the user must decide what they want to use the bear as.
Another feature that was designed into this bear was the loudness and volume of the bear itself. The volume of the bear is quite low, which at first I thought was a fault, however, through watching others use it and interact with it, I realized it actually contributed to the idea of conceptual design. The low volume causes the user to really get close to the bear to see what it has to say. During this closeness, there is a sense of intimacy that the user gets from being so close to the bear. Once again, this closeness with a cyborg bear pushes the boundaries of the progress of technology and what we expect from everyday objects.
The final topic I intended this bear to possess is to cause its user to think about the world beyond just the bear. To many people, the idea of technology is scary, and the fact that it can be put on humans to “improve” their everyday life is a real concern for these people. In this hack, I challenged this idea and wanted the users not only to view my bear as a technology/future bear, but also think beyond that and how it can apply to the world we live in. With advancements in technology, we realized that what once was science fiction or the unimaginable , has suddenly become reality, however, at what point will (if it will) technology go too far?