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Visualization of Conversations June 8, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, making the invisible visible, social computing.

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Talk-o-Meter is a new App, which visualizes what percentage of time each speaker in a group conversation is speaking – currently only available for two speakers “who do not have similar voices” – later they plan to have a version with multiple speakers. I could not really find out who is the developer of this app, but they seem to be German, because on of the screenshots on the website is called “Wortwaage” (word scale or word balance), which sounds very poetic – in German at least.

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This project reminds me of the “Conversation Table” (2005) by Lira Nikolovska from the Computing Culture Group at the MIT. This table is a “visual representation of conversational dynamics” and was sponsored by the MIT Council for the Arts. In this project I like the reduced ubiquitous visualization.

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While researching for this post I stumbled upon another, more recent project on this subject: At the Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne Khaled Bachour wrote his thesis about the subject “Augmenting Face-to-Face Collaboration with Low-Resolution Semi-Ambient Feedback“. In his thesis Khaled discusses a whole range of similar interfaces, ranging from timebased visualizations to dial-based representation of the conversation.

Khaled also invented a mobile version of the conversation visualization, which I think is nice idea, specially the form factor and they way one can add participants:

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Khaled evaluated his concept and came to some – well maybe not so – surprising results: “when the level of engagement was displayed on the table, the outcome was that male users increased their engagement but female users did not.”


As the general idea behind the concept is quite old, I am wondering why so far nobody started to use this content of the spoken word for visualization of conversation. One could easily use the various “buzz word bingos” lists to show who is just making noise…



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