Original anthropomorphic Chit Chat Club Avatars Slim(L) and Orlando (R).
Abstracted current Chit Chat Club avatar Ginger.
What is Chit Chat Club?
Chit Chat Club is an ongoing project examining the synthesis of virtual and physical presence.  Chit Chat Club offers human-sized avatars embodied by remote individuals. Avatars utilize varied communication channels to engage all visitors - local and remote - in the cafe. The avatars leverage the cafe’s social nature to encourage “virtual” visitors to embody the Chit Chat Club avatars and explore the space.
The first Chit Chat Club contained two anthropomorphic avatars, Slim and Orlando. Both avatars utilized facial expression and audio to provide a sense of presence. The design of Slim and Orlando, while anthropomorphic, were not crafted to be human.  The bodies were abstracted and the facial expressions simple yet expressive. Remote users were offered a wide range of predefined faces to represent their mood or expression.
The most recent version of Chit Chat Club explores a wider range of interactions between spaces. The suite of three newly designed chairs offers visitors abstract visualization of audio, text based communication, and the familiar facial expressions as means to communicate.
Each chair was designed to explore a unique interface for mediated communication within c4f3 , an interactive cafe, located in the in San Jose Museum of Art, California as part of the ISEA/ZeroOne art festival in August of 2006. Our paper focuses on Ginger and the use of visualized audio to convey meaningful interactive cues and virtual presence in a physical space.
Chit Chat Club explores a blended social space that bridges physical and virtual communication. Chit Chat Club combined the anonymity and widespread interaction access of online space with the ease of interaction  and signaling in the physical space. At ISEA we presented the creation of a new Chit Chat Club avatar, called Ginger, that conveys presence via audio and audio visualization, and we build upon previous exploration of Chit Chat Club by documenting the avatar’s interaction in an active social environment.
Why c4f3?
Cafes provide sensorially rich social environments- abundant with people, art, music, aromas, and conversation, all factors contributing to the social ecology of a particular physical space. In a similar manner, the online world is an invisible social space that encourages interaction in the form of chat, forums, VoIP, and games. Chit Chat Club merges these two worlds, providing both physical and virtual access to a shared social space.
Chit Chat Club was a collaborative project between Social Spaces at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Sociable Media Group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information about the entire Chit Chat Club installation please visit the Chit Chat Club site.
Chit Chat Club ZeroOne/ISEA 2006 home | interface | users
SocialSpaces UIUC 2006