The genieBottles system presents a story that is told by three genies that live in glass bottles. When a bottle is opened, the genie contained inside is released and begins to talk to the user. If several genies are released at once, they converse with each other. The physical bottles can be seen as graspable "containers" and "controls" for the digital story information.

The genieBottles use a simple state transition model for interactive storytelling, in which the system plays back the appropriate segment of audio depending on the state it is in, as well as the appropriate segment(s) of audio to transition from one state to another. The overall form of the genieBottles story is quite abstract, and does not have a highly structured narrative progression or plot. When users interact with the system, they capture the genies at a particular moment in time, during which they talk about their state of being in bottles, about their pasts, and about their expectations or desires for the future.

The physical interface is tightly linked to, and limits, the form of the story: the play-out (i.e., the time of the interaction) corresponds to a brief segment in the genies' lives in which they chat and allude to a larger and more complex story. The interaction time thus constrains the plot time and hence the narrative.

A short paper on the genieBottles system was accepted at SIGGRAPH 2001 Sketches and Applications category. You can view a PDF of the paper here.

You can also read about the genieBottles in Chapter 3 of my Master's thesis (38 MB PDF).

A short video clip of the genieBottles in action can be seen here.

Images and Videos are Copyright of the MIT Media Laboratory, 2000.