Project Name:

Public IM Bot Display


The public IM bot will be a way for SI students to interact with a centralized display via an instant messaging interface. Many students are unable or unwilling to use the Bluetooth to interact with the display. Because many students have access to an instant messaging client, the probability of interaction is higher.

The project will consist of two parts. The IM bot will be able to take messages and commands from a user. The commands will then be run on the display when a specific trigger has been satisfied. For example, a user might want to send a message to the bot to relay to a friend. The bot will store the message, and when the friend is nearby the display, the message will be shown.

Another possibility is for the IM messages to serve as a way to generally interact with whatever avatar represents the situated display. The students of SI might be charged with the responsibility of “feeding” the avatar daily. If the avatar is not fed, it might act differently or even die. The experiment could determine how people’s participation changes as their responsibilities grow and consequences become more dire.

Technology Used:

There are several IM protocol libraries available for Python for free. The AIM and Jabber protocols would probably be sufficient enough to cover the needs of SI students. In addition, the software might use Bluetooth to detect when certain users are present.

Research Goal:

We would like to determine whether an avatar would increase participation in the SI community. We would also like to see how users interact with the avatar given its mortal nature.

Educational Goal:

The goal here is to learn how to “plug in” various modules into a centralized system using data streams and messages. The IM module will have to interact with the Bluetooth module in some cases and display information onto the screen.


  • A lower level view of possible user scenarios and use cases.
  • A working module written in Python to interact with users via IM.
  • A report on the observed behaviors of the users interactions with the avatar.