Baby’s First Touch Screen

Baby’s First Touch Screen is a design fiction short I made about a touch screen that doesn’t want to be touched. If a user attempts to touch the device too quickly, two shielding appendages close. In this short scenario, an expectant mother is devastated when her newly purchased “Baby’s First Touch Screen” device is stolen by a man with nefarious intentions. Rather than depicting robots as menacing and anthropomorphic (the more typical science fiction approach) I wanted to think about robots as vulnerable and animistic. While the idea of a touch screen targeted at newborns may seem cynical or crass, my intention was to evoke ambivalence and uncanny tension by framing the product as a sort of care-taker pet. Since the interface can only be touched when approached slowly and calmly, a child would have to build trust with this device the same way it might with a small animal. Instead, though, this story depicts the device being kidnapped and dismantled by a predator who doesn’t have patience for the interaction mechanic. My writing on animistic design (with coauthor Phil van Allen) can be found here.