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We are focusing on the community of bus users in Pittsburgh. More specifically the familiar strangers we encounter while waiting for the bus.

"Familiar strangers are people that we regularly observe but never interact with." - Stanley Milgram (1)

Unlike people that we know and the others who are complete strangers we encounter once and never see again, familiar strangers are somewhere in between. "You know each other - even if you don't really know each other." (2) With the people that we know, we are bound through social reciprocity; and with complete strangers, no such bond exists. However, with familiar strangers, since we encounter them regularly in familiar settings, they establish our connection to individual places (3). The relationship we have with familiar strangers is indeed real wherein both parties mutually agree to ignore each other without any implications of hostility.

Through our project, we aim to explore how might we break this pattern of ignorance to create a positive experience by facilitating interactions among this group of people in a non-intrusive way. We want to make people more aware of each other and their environment.

Some of the points that we must keep in mind while designing for this group of people are:

  • How might we generate interest among these people?
  • How can we create a safe space where people come forward to interact with the system and one another?

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