CASE STUDY: Soothsayer gestural retail display

A gestural interface for crowdsourcing a sense of truth from the internet.

One late night, our team was working a whiteboard in a huddle room. Our studio was street level, a fishbowl to passers-by. Pedestrians peaked into the darkness to steal a glimpse of what we were scrawling on the whiteboard. We laughed, drew childish doodles and then saw the lost value of an after-hours storefront. Soothsayer was born in that dark window. We funneled the concept into our innovation program.

We built Soothsayer. A digital magi who delivered universal truths as provided by the social crowd.


The display was projected onto the dark window from within and the controls were the humans outside. Using Xbox Connect hardware, we created an interface controlled entirely by a pedestrian’s physical interactions with a window. We established three levels of interaction determined by a person’s proximity to the window. These proximity levels delivered corresponding levels of interaction, each more intimate than the last.

If a pedestrian approached in the outermost detection field, the interface simply greeted them. If they paused or physically acknowledged the display, the Soothsayer beckoned them closer. If they proceeded closer still, the Soothsayer offered a nugget of truth, in exchange for a bow. Mild idol worship? Sure, but it was in good fun. The Soothsayer read a bow based on three points of detection: head, shoulders and hands. When the software detected hands coming together and the head lowering, it displayed an aggregated social post tagged #truth.

It was entirely a game of chance as to if the resulting “truth” would be sage buddhist wisdom or an R. Kelly lyric. The variety and colloquial overuse of the hashtag kept the interaction lightweight and wonderfully self-deprecating.

The result was an experience that could bring any dark storefront to life in a exciting, meaningful way.

Agency: Phenomblue Innovation

Project: Soothsayer

Assets: Gestural interface and art within

Role: Creative direction; interface design