An interactive bench that creates an interaction between two strangers that sit on it.
We’ve all been in the situation where all we want is to sit on a bench by ourselves, alone, and as soon as another person sits next to us, we immediately feel uncomfortable. An awkward silence ensues. While designing this bench, we tried to make the experience of sitting on a bench next to a stranger a nice one, and to create a bond between these two strangers.
By using leg- rests that can move and swing, this two-seat bench invites people to come and sit on it. As soon as this happens, the seat on which the first person is sitting becomes still, and the seat next to it continues swinging. As soon as another person sits, both of the leg-rests start to move together like a swing. The movement of the bench resembles the childhood memory of a swing legs up and down on a chair that is bigger than you.
The concept of this bench started with the psychological experiment that showed that – conversely to common knowledge – smiling can create happiness. Out of this concept, we hoped that the movement of the feet will create a smile on the person’s face, which will help bring the two people closer to one another, and maybe create a bond between them.
The bench has 6 touch switches- 2 in the back of the seat, 2 in the bottom of the leg-rest (in the end of each round, the wheel lifts up the leg-rest), and 2 in the middle of it. In addition there are 2 IR sensors in the back of the chair (one on each side).
As long as no one is sitting on the bench, the sensors don’t feel anything- therefore, both of the leg-rests, continue their movement together in an “invitation-mode”. As soon as a person nears the bench, the sensors feel him and bring one of the leg-rests down so that the person can sit on one side. The other side continues moving up and down until another person sits there. When the person sits and leans back, he automatically presses a switch in the back of the chair.
When another person gets close to the chair, the IR sensor senses him, and stops the movement as well, so that he can sit safely. And when he leans back on the chair, the movements of both of the leg-rests starts one after the other.
When one of them wants to get up, he stops leaning on the back of the chair intuitively, so the sensor stops sensing the person, and the movement on both sides stops, until he completely stands, and then the movement continues, only on the empty side, until the next person sits on it.
David Tal and Eli Bar Haim.