Interactive dining experience where three isn't a crowd

16 Jul 2018 15:57:03.757

Conversation for Three is a responsive table that detects diner’s emotional changes during a conversation and projects different films, animations, conversational suggestions, film quotes and sounds depending on the emotions being detected.  

Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab and Architecture and Built Environment have collaborated with artist Jo Fairfax to create this unique dining experience that is being showcased at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham from 17th – 19th July. 

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Detecting emotions

The table picks up people’s emotions via two webcams that are in a vase in the centre of the table. These are programmed with facial recognition software which detects emotions including happiness and surprise and then triggers various categories of films.

Diners also needn’t worry about awkward silences as the table is also programmed to ask one of fifty questions including; “What is your opinion of freedom of speech?” or “If you were invisible for a day what would you do?”.

There are also 3D characters of the chef and front of house characters, based on the real ones at the Broadway, that feature as part of the experience. Depending on emotions detected the characters will appear as a film projection from the light shade above– the chef may be dancing in response to happiness or the front of house character may be a little drunk delivering wine, there are 50 possibilities!

These two characters also stand as statues on the table overlooking the action and when diners look at them a film quote is projected from within the table onto an integrated screen. Diners will also be joined by rotating salt and pepper shakers that turn when a diner has a drink and menus and plates that feature special codes linked to the webcams that trigger lighting effects on the table.

No two moments the same

The project is the brainchild of artist Jo Fairfax, who has been designing for public and private spaces for over 20 years. He said, “I am so grateful I have had this opportunity to develop this piece of work, combining the magic of the digital with the ‘human-ness’ of the physical. I think this fusion creates a deeply rich territory that reflects the combinations that we all have with our imaginations and bodies and shows that in life no two moments are ever the same.”

Holger Schnadelbach led the work in the Mixed Reality lab and said; “This has been a really interesting piece of work that seamlessly combines technology, art and architecture to provide an immersive experience an a very unusual way. I am sure no one will have ever had a dining experience like Conversation for Three and it will be very interesting to see how people respond.”

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Broadway is currently in its 28th year of operation and attracting 400,000 visitors per year. Located in the Creative Quarter Lace Market area of Nottingham city centre, Broadway is recognised as one of the leading independent cinemas and creative media centres in the English regions.


Broadway is also a charitable organisation and provides a social, educational and cultural alternative to the commercial cinema experience within a non-for-profit framework, encouraging audiences to experience a diverse programme of film, arts, creative media events and exhibition. Broadway produces a number of educational and community film and creative media projects that aim to stimulate and entertain providing opportunities to enjoy, learn and exchange skills and ideas.

Story credits

For more information, contact Holger Schnadelbach on 0115 9514 094 or

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager (Faculty of Science)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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