Why StoneSoup?

We are gradually surrounded by information display in public areas. These displays try to attract our attention. They implicitly influence us, and are often work for someone else’s agenda. This future raises an important question: “can the ambient be understood as a shared cultural resource, to be socially curated, voluntarily limited, and self-governed as if a commons?”

StoneSoup, a Community Display for Student Lounge

To explore a future where our digital surroundings can be collaboratively customized, we created StoneSoup, a public display that can adapt its content based on the people nearby in a student lounge.

StoneSoup has three unique features: 1) fast auto check-in, 2) stream-based sharing and 3) social configuration.

Fast Auto Check-In

At the time there was no BLE
technology and iBeacon. We used multiple bluetooth adaptors running in parallel to detect who is in the lounge.

Stream-based Sharing

Previous research has shown that it is burdensome for end-users to maintain the content on shared displays. They often forget to update the content, so the content on the display becomes obsolete very quick.

To resolve this issue, we let users define a steam they would like to share. A stream can be a Flickr tag they follow, or a news feedback they like.

Social Configuration

Users often have problem understand what they can share in a community. To help them navigate the norm of the space, we let people observe the streams shared by other users. They can easily fork a stream to create their own streams.


A two week deployment was conducted with three tutorial sessions held and 34 students registered.


We won the top price for the siexpoSItion competition in the research category. Our deployment also yield some interesting insights. You can read the technical report for detail.

technical report