Facebook came to iStrategyLabs with a unique request. They wanted Facebook to have a physical presence at high-profile events, allowing people to connect through the Facebook platform even when they're not on the computer. The team requested a magic-eight-ball-like device that would allow fans to ask questions of their favorite celebrities, and allow celebrities to record a video response to their fans' questions through a delightful physical experience.
We wanted to create an experience that celebrities would want to use, enjoy using, and be able to use in a fast-paced setting like a red carpet event. We knew the interface had to be dead simple with no added clutter, and the user flow had to be extremely fast.
The physical device was built with an Android tablet and a completely custom interface. The device had to be easy and fun to hold, which meant weight and finishing materials were something we considered carefully. We tested the shape and size by cardboard prototyping as well as testing the interface with each version of the app on the Android device.
The Mentions Box pulls questions from pre-definied Facebook comment threads. The questions are fed into a custom admin console we built for the Facbeook team; the admin console allows Facebook to approve questions to send them to the Mentions Box, or to delete questions that might be repetitive, boring, or offensive.
The Mentions Box has been to the Tony Awards, Stand Up to Cancer, and it’s currently headed to a few more awards shows. When celebrities record videos on the Mentions Box, the videos are sent back to the admin console, where the Facebook team can view the videos and post them live anywhere they choose. It's a seamless experience for the Facebook team, the celebrities, and fans everywhere.
We prototyped the device shape with cardboard as well as in 3D modeling programs, to make sure that we were making something that would be fun to hold without being unwieldy. The physical concepting was done by Mike O'Brien, and the 3D modeling by Jackson Dolan and Ken Marut.
My role was in the interface design, user flow, concepting, and cardboard prototyping. Our team pulled this project together in just a couple months and we continue to iterate on it for the Facebook team even today — they love bringing it to all kinds of events!