The action of starting a conversation to reconnect people is the foundation of an exciting new technology initiative, developed by digital innovation agency Fusion for suicide prevention charity R U OK?
At the centre of the technology is a large Question Mark ‘character’ called Quentin; a fully connected ‘internet of things’ object with a small computer called an Arduino at its heart.
Quentin is leading R U OK?’s challenge to start a million conversations, and via Fusion’s innovative technology will direct R U OK?’s version of the Olympic Torch journey commencing on R U OK?Day, Thursday 8 September.
Fusion Sydney managing director John Chaplin said the creative motivation that drove the highly technological solution was the need to “get people to reconnect by simply starting a conversation”.
“Technology is an amazing thing and has enabled us to create a ground-breaking and interactive way for people to reconnect with their family and friends. Our team has pushed the boundaries of 3D printing, mobile, SMS automation and micro-electronics to create a piece of interactive art that will help start a million conversations.
“We can’t wait to see how far Quentin travels,” said Chaplin.
Quentin starts his Australian journey at Bondi Icebergs Sydney on R U OK?Day with former rugby league player Wendell Sailor and former boxer Garth Wood as his first keepers. The two are good mates and R U OK? Ambassadors.
As the journey around Australia progresses, Quentin’s technology enables him to issue conversation challenges designed to motivate each new keeper to reconnect face-to-face with people in their lives.
Like the Olympic Torch, Quentin will be passed from person to person and travel from town to town.
Fusion utilised 3D-printing and machining to design Quentin with a translucent skin that holds an array of low power LED lights that allow him to animate, glow and communicate.
Users can interact with Quentin through SMS on their phone or shake him to get an R U OK? challenge. Quentin has the ability to publish his activity to the R U OK? website, including kilometres travelled, challenges issued and number of keepers.
R U OK? campaign director Rebecca Lewis said the aim of the campaign is to boost the perception that starting conversations is something we should do every day – not just on R U OK?Day.
“With millions of Australians already supporting R U OK?Day, we’re excited to challenge them to do more to stay connected and have regular, meaningful conversations,” Lewis said.
“Quentin will help people to proactively reach out to someone they’ve not seen in a while and do more to maintain stronger relationships.”
Quentin will be visiting communities near and far until R U OK?Day 2017 (Thursday September 14, 2017). Quentin’s journey can be tracked via ruok.org.au/Quentin.