“WordPlay” is a collaborative tabletop interface for generating, organizing, and exploring ideas. The concepts, ideas and arguments discussed in a meeting around the table are visualized and can be organized and manipulated in natural ways by the participants. Users add ideas to the table by speaking, manipulate the properties of words with hand gestures, and explore related concepts by tapping them. WordPlay combines speech recognition software, natural language processing, a semantic knowledge network, and multi-touch capability to provide a public forum for brainstorming and supporting group decision making.

Usage Scenarios

We have experimented with and built support for two types of meetings: deciding between a set of alternatives and idea generation. Groups have gathered to brainstorm about possible domain names, product usage scenarios, ideas for game development, and to do comparisons between political or technological alternatives.

Speech Input

In order to facilitate more natural and seamless input to the table, users speak into a microphone mounted on a corner of the table. We implemented a speaker-independent voice engine using Dragon Natural Speak. We found that by using a noise cancelation microphone, recognition worked moderately well even during gallery openings and events.

Generating New Ideas
One of the “playful” aspects of WordPlay is exploring the extensive databases linked to each of the words on the table. By contextually leveraging these, the system could provide associative suggestions that may trigger a novel branch of thought during brainstorming and decision making scenarios. Etymologies, definitions, and semantic relationships from the ConceptNet 3 semantic knowledge database spout recursively as new branches of words are selected by the user.

Making Decisions
An important feature of WordPlay is the ability to toggle a background that defines a matrix for positioning factors in decision making scenarios. Users can position their opinions and thoughts within a specific context. During our public events we used a matrix with two candidates for political nomination on the left and right axis, and pros and cons on the top and bottom.

Download PDF: Wordplay, IEEE Tabletop 2009 Paper

Users gather to brainstorm

Entering speech with microphone

Exploring generative associations

A decision making scenario, pros and cons