TV Only Watchable When Viewers Smile


Haunting art installation uses facial recognition to change how we fundamentally interact with technology

Nestor Bailly, PSFK
  • 11 august 2014

Imagine a world where only happy people are fed content, the masses forced to smile in order to be entertained. Sounds dystopian, but the technology is already here and has been deployed in certain commercial environments.

Perhaps as an artistic commentary on this, Royal College of Art student David Hedberg has created a retro-styled TV that only displays distorted, ‘bad reception’ video until the viewer smiles. They have to hold that smile in order for the video to remain clear.

Hedberg modifies ordinary objects to change our fundamental relationship and interaction with them. The ‘bad reception’ that his Smile TV normally displays was in the past always a cause for scowls and unhappiness, as was the limited content served by only a few players in telecoms. Contrast this to today with nearly unlimited access the Internet provides, the only restriction is our own receptivity.


Hence Hedberg’s project that turns the viewer into the antenna that ‘opens’ for content when they are receptive, or smile. While this encouragement to re-examine how we consume content is fun and light-hearted, honestly underneath it feels sinister. This is an example of art imitating life, as this kind of technology has already been in use for some time to serve certain kinds of content based on who is viewing and their mood as perceived by a camera (often the commonplace Kinect). What this installation could point to is a future where audiences are trained to exhibit certain behavior in order to be entertained or informed. It’s not hard to then imagine how marketers, news agencies and governments could manipulate the public more than they do.

But for now, it’s a simple and fun art installation.

David Hedberg


IKEA Is Letting Kids Design Its New Line Of Toys

Travel Yesterday

30-Year-Old Photographs Used As Travel Guides

A new photo series revolves around tracing the origins of images from the past

Technology Yesterday

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Yesterday

VR App Prescribed For Pain Relief

A pharmacy chain in Sweden is stepping away from tradition to develop a happy place for the pain-afflicted

Retail Yesterday

Banks Are Coming Together To Create A New Payment Network That Rivals Venmo

A number of financial institutions are collaborating to make a new person-to-person monetary system called Zelle for their customers

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Pocket Camera Aims To Facilitate The Struggles Of Live Streams

The Mevo helps resolve the complexities of streaming video with an intuitive setup and smart editing controls

Food Yesterday

Startup Believes Traceability Will Help Disrupt The Multivitamin Industry

Ritual is a daily supplement for women that traces every ingredient back to its source

Food Yesterday

Photo Series Brutally Murders Some Of Your Favorite Fast Food

The portraits by artist duo Ilka & Franz do away with mealtime regulars in a way that is both beautiful and humorous


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 26, 2016

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Mobile Yesterday

Coffeemaker Teaches You How To Make The Perfect Cup

The device comes with an accompanying app that guides novices and experts alike through the brewing process

Op-Ed Yesterday

General Electric: Lighting’s Impact On Sleep Is More Than The Off Switch

Jeff Patton, General Manager of Connected Home Products at GE Lighting, uncovers how lighting technologies can affect our sleep cycles

Brand Development Yesterday

The Story Behind How LYNK & CO Created A Car Brand From Scratch

Head of Design Andreas Nilsson describes which values were most influential in determining the identity and design direction of the new auto company

Travel Yesterday

Architect’s Design Presents A Radically New Approach For New York’s Penn Station

The firm of Vishaan Chakrabarti has envisioned a bright community and travel hub in the heart of the city

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: Building An All-Encompassing Performance Suite

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats on the partnership opportunities available in health and fitness

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Fantasy Game Responds To Each Player’s Emotions

The card battling venture measures responses through a Bluetooth clip to adjust the experience accordingly

Luxury Yesterday

Carry A Map Of NYC On A Handbag

The bag from Bottega Veneta has been designed exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman to celebrate New York City

Technology Yesterday

Roaming Robots Crawl Around Your Body To Do Small Jobs As You Go About Your Day

A new concept wearable developed by researchers at MIT and Stanford are fully functional bots that live on your clothing

No search results found.