It all started with a bus. I would take the bus four times a week for a year and a half during my freshmen year of college. It was my first time traveling alone...but in reality I never really was on my own. When I think back to this time in my life, I realize how many individuals I traveled with every morning and evening on my way to and from school. Business men, old Asian and Latina women, fellow students, and average Joes - these people were my traveling companions. So if we were companions, why was it so difficult to say "Hi" or even utter a "Goodmorning." Our reluctance to engage in conversation (and interaction) with strangers hinders us from fully taking advantage of their company. Through research, interviews, and endless failures I was able to comprehend why it is we avoid talking to people we don't know and more importantly, what tools will ultimately force us to engage with others in person.
I developed iMU as a plugin that would eventually be downloaded to all iPhones through software updates. Everyone's phone will become their third party, their wing-man, their friend that introduces them to another friend. By giving the object that initially isolates us from others the potential to force us to engage in meaningful moments with strangers, I recontextualize the use of the cell phone. It becomes an extension of ourselves to the highest degree, as it does what we will never do on our own: talk to strangers willingly.