Amos Golan

LeakyPhones is a public/private headset that was designed to encourage face-to-face interactions, curiosity, and healthier social skills by letting users "peek" into each other's music just by looking at one another. 

Gaze is an important social signal in human interaction. Though its interpretation may vary across cultures, it is generally agreed that eye contact indicates interest and the point of attention in a conversation. Despite this, many common personal computing technologies, such as our smartphones and headphones, require significant visual and auditory attention thereby inhibiting our ability to interact with others. LeakyPhones offers a new approach for addressing this challenge. 

The aim of this project was to explore the effect of gaze (or more accurately, head direction) and other subtle yet natural forms of body gestures on the ability to engage in conversations using non-digital mediators for interaction. We hope that by using eye contact and an ice breaker such as music, LeakyPhones will encourage people to be more aware of their surroundings and help them interact with each other—ultimately removing their headphones and talking.

How does LeakyPhones work?

By turning the receiver and transmitter in the headset ON or OFF, each user can tune their privacy setting to one of four privacy modes:

  1. Bidirectional mode -By turning both the receiver and transmitter ON, one could be receiving and sharing content with others.
  2. Transmit only mode - With the transmitter ON and the receiver OFF, one could be sharing content yet not receiving any other content from others (just like a person with a virtual boombox).
  3. Receive only mode -  With the receiver ON and the transmitter OFF, one would not even need a music source and could be scanning around to hear what others hear.
  4. Traditional headphones - by turning the transmitter and receiver OFF, LeakyPhones functions as a regular headset, allowing one to listen to music in privacy, the good old fashioned way!

An interaction with LeakyPhones might look like this:

1. User A  looks at another person, let's assume this is user B

2. The longer user  A looks at user B, the more dominant B's music becomes. A's music slowly disappears and is substituted with B's.

3. User A's music switches completely to user's B music. As long as user A looks at user B they will continue to hear B's  music.

4. When user A finally looks away from B, her music slowly switches back to their own music.