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PABLO. Personal Assistant Biologic Operator

PABLO. Personal Assistant Biologic Operator

As technology advances, people are increasingly
being required to pay attention to online social
interactions. To Cope with this overwhelming
demand, the current trend is for AI-based
PABLO looks critically at the integration of A.I. into
social networks and its influence over our online
behavior. This „inconvenient“ biologically produced
gadget of the future preserves the consciousness of
the user and relieves him of the social expectations
anchored in the networks.


One movie that got me into the idea of representing my Device organically is the David Cronenberg's Movie eXistenZ (1999). This movie depicts implicitly the connection between humans and technology with the use of flesh made interfaces. This gadgets are external devices but at the same time extremely intimate related to the user.

This device named BioPort is the door to virtual reality, gets connected direct to the spinal cord of the subject and it's completely dependent on body energy.

During my research on the meaning of the movie Existenz, I stumbled upon the Lacanian philosophy.

In the paper from Hub Zwart „“Extimate” Technologies and Techno-Cultural Discontent: A Lacanian Analysis of Pervasive Gadgets Hub Zwart“, it's possible to appreciate the relationship between human desire and technological artifacts.

Lacan's Philosophy of Technology

According to this philosophy, humans are unhappy creatures, witch suffers from organic inferiority. This matter would be compensated for the use of technology.

His perspective shows humans as beings who suffer chronically from something irrevocably lost. By experiencing traumas since birth, one example of early technology dependance takes part in the separation from the breastfeeding. The child is given a feeding bottle which mimics the shape of the breast, and as a substitute of the „real lost thing“ is a strong representation of convenience. This relation between technology and replacement takes place over again while experiencing life.

Experience of Separation (Loss) - Desire of replacing the missing item - New Gadget (Substitutes) - Change of the subject (Human)


The concept of Extimacy defines the relationship of a new body part that becomes intimate and at the same time external, for this reason, the named „Extimate technologies“ views the association to gadgets as a co-evolution, which plays the role of an external organ with the purpose of helping us to make the outside world more friendly. From my perspective, there is a big similarity to Smartphones, which every day become more organic related and more close to the body of the user.

The Internet of Things Era

As the number of connected devices to the internet increases also the number of notifications that the user receives will do. According to Dr. Rand Hindi for the year 2025, the devices connected to our smartphones will be near to 10-15 per person. To tackle this overwhelming issue Dr. Hindi purpose a specific type of A.I called „context awareness“.

In the future, it will be possible to make a copy of our consciousness which can overtake tasks and also decide which content is enough relevant to the user to know.

Ideation Process

Together with regular presentations, we went deep into the concept of Convenience/Inconvenience in the fields of Speculative Design.

The present design industry has as objective make their products so convenient as possible, reducing the friction by its interactions. We were asked to look critically at the concept of convenience and to question if a „user-friendly design“ and extreme convenience could always have a positive effect on its users.

We were asked to fill a Diary with daily situations in which we can identify three convenient scenarios with inconvenient outcomes.


The first example that got my attention it's about bicycle transportation Mobike. In its convenient side, Mobike offers an easy way of transportation, the bicycles are pickable in many points in the city and counts with a more or less user-friendly interface. At the other hand, the App has several black patterns, like the unclear denotation of the „no parking“ areas which make the user pay several fines.

Facebook Watch

Facebook offers a new function named Facebook Watch in which the user watches targeted videos depending on his online behavior. This frictionless experience has the bad side of offering poor content and hardly diverse.


Nowadays we never have been so connected as before. Message Apps as WhatsApp or Messenger keep us easily in touch and reachable round the clock. The inconvenient side of these services has to do with the attention that the user has to pay, even more important: the pressure of responding to this message on time.

With these observations, I focused myself on the aspect of online communication and push notifications. My inconvenient counterproposal would tackle this issue with the use of a machine, which would automatically erase the incoming notifications in the smartphone before the user will be able to read them.

Essential Functionality / Counterfunctionality

To deal with the aspect of an inconvenient proposal for a convenient scenario we looked into the essential functionality of the prototype. In my case it would overtake the social interactions of the user. With the use of the schematized design process from „Counterfunctional things: exploring possibilities in designing digital limitations.“ We explored the different outcomes of our prototype including the aspect of a „counter function“, offering a different new perspective of functionality:

1. Normally one can ____ [a “positive function”].

2. Now one can not ____ [a “countered positive function”].

3. But now one might (not) ____ [a new (counter)function].



1. Normally one can ____ [pay attention to online social activity].

2. Now one can not ____ [be always aware of the content].

3. But now one might (not) ____ [ not pay so much attention to online social activity].

Concrete aspects and Prototyping


The user must pay attention to push notifications which are high demand for daily life.


PABLO. Personal Asistant Biologic Operator

Relieves the user from the online social interactions by the use of A.I. The device contains a copy of the consciousness of the subject to overtake tasks.

Critical Question / Reflection

With this project, I would like to look critically the extreme use of gadgets like Smartphones and the dependency that the user develops towards them. As extensions of our body, these devices have turn part of our intimate life getting close to our biology and gradually appearing more organic.

At the same time, these devices demand increasingly more attention of the user. In the present, services like Gmail with its Function „Smart Reply“ offers already an A.I answering system, in which three different answers will be recommended to the user based on the content of the E-Mail.

Can we rely on machines when they take control?

To reproduce this question with my prototype I planed a mechanic System that would delete friend recommendations of Facebook in a smartphone. In this representation, the device would theoretically decide by itself which content is relevant for the user.

Inconvenience / Convenience

To make this prototype an inconvenient solution for a convenient scenario the device would be (instead of being a digital bot) pictured as a physical representation of an A.I personal assistant which mechanically will interact with touchscreens. To make this prototype more inconvenient, and with the purpose to represent the increasing approach of technology and human body, the object will be a bioengineered flesh external device, which has to be cloned from the cells of the owner and carries his consciousness.


I intended to represent this device as a speculative product of the future, which would be easy to find in every electronics store.

In the form of a grow-kit the user receives a box with a „cell culture“. The user is asked to deposit a piece of his tissue to start the development of the device. After a few days, it would reach its full growth and will be ready for the consciousness transfer. The device will seek to the next touchscreen device and will overtake the task relieving the user from the social tasks.

Illustrations by Ruslan Puts


For the representation of an organic device, I decided to use organic gelatine. I assumed that this material would be, like real flesh, conductive and suitable for the control of a touchscreen.

My first prototype was made of a mold of my finger and a cut drinking straw which will act as joint imitating the movement of a finger.

After my first try, I realized that it was possible to control the touch screen while holding the synthetic finger with the naked hand. This allowed conducting the changes of capacitance from my hand to the screen.

On the other side, as I wasn't holding the synthetic finger with my hand, it would not make any changes in the touchscreen. This was a problem for me since the device should work automatically without the intervention of a hand.

To tackle this issue I decided to make a circuit through the „synthetic finger“ in which the current will go from the positive side to the finger and the ground contact connected to the metal frame of the iPhone. As the articulation touches the screen the circuit will close, causing a change of capacitance high enough to trigger a touch interaction.

The concept would work with servo motors programmed with an Arduino and would play a sequence of movements. Each articulation is attached to a single servo motor.

First Prototype

Interactive approach:

The main idea was to make the experience interactive. The smartphone receives an incoming message and the device would open the message and delete it.

To test this functionality I attached a photocell to the smartphone to detect the incoming message. A single articulation will be able to open the message but because of the lack of a second articulation, it wasn't able to finish the sequence of delete the message.

Second Prototype

With the same idea of making a sequenced interaction with more articulations, I designed my prototype with four fingers. After many tries, I couldn't get to work the 4 fingers coordinately, in order to finish the desired action of open and delete a message.

After this, I decided to narrow again the concept and go back to the start point, with just one articulation.

Final Prototype

At this point, my goal was to make an interaction made with repetitive touches on the same spot of the touchscreen and have the effect of an inconvenient outcome.

Luckily I found the Facebook „you may know“ function. This functionality recommends automatically new friends based on online behavior. The action of open and delete these recommendations are possible with one touch at the same spot.

Exposition concept

For presenting my prototype y decided to give the idea of an aseptic/scientific environment in which PABLO is placed over a white box and enclosed in a glass cube.

The servo motor and also the microcontroller will be hidden inside the box.

The system is presented over a white podium and next to it a diagram containing the instructions to get the device to work.


In this course, we had the chance to explore the different fields of speculative design, for me an unknown discipline.

Speculative design helps us to understand the development of the design from another perspective and help us to find alternative solutions to real products. In my very personal case, it helped me to discover new design methodologies and reconsider the goals of the design, in which its functionality or „user-friendliness“ not always must be the purpose. For example in my project, I realized that I was working in very personal and even an artistic level but at the same time I was being supported by design methodologies. For this reason, my speculative prototype more than having a real function intended to transmit a message, and open space to for discussion and ponder about the development of technology and its relation to our daily life.

I had the freedom to experiment and have real fun by trying out new materials and how they behave, although I had to make front to several theoretic and practical challenges, this experience had a big significance by motivating me to explore further in new fields as soft robotics and speculative design.

Ein Projekt von




M.A. Jordi Tost Paula Schuster

Zugehöriger Workspace

Stranger Things – Prototyping Inconvenience


Wintersemester 2019 / 2020