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Poem Booth uses AI to write poems about people after taking their picture

Taking poetry off the page and into the street, Poem Booth resembles a stylized version of a backlit outdoor advertising unit. But instead of flogging products, this display can spin rhymes. Anyone who steps up to its mirrored surface and presses a button is treated to a tailormade poem.

First, Poem Booth takes a photo, capturing the people it sees and the setting they're in. Powered by generative AI, the unit then writes unique verses based on that image. A QR code allows people to save and share their photos and personal poems. Poem Booth can be programmed to improvise around a specific theme, too. For a graduation ceremony, it could focus on growth and perseverance, while on a busy shopping street, it might craft missives on the climate crisis.

After a soft launch at Lowlands music festival in August 2023, Poem Booth officially debuted this month. Anyone in the Netherlands or Belgium can rent the booth for EUR 950 for six hours. Setting it to wax lyrical on a particular theme runs an extra EUR 750. Poem Booth currently composes in Dutch, English, Arabic, French and German, with nearly every other language available on request.

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Poem Booth is the brainchild of Amsterdam-based VOUW Studio, which works at the crossroads of art, design and technology. Besides bringing smiles to people's faces, VOUW hopes to serve as a platform for poetry, expanding its reach to new audiences while amplifying the voices of human poets. For the first version of the booth, VOUW worked with Belgian poet Maarten Inghels, using his poems for its language model and his expertise to finetune its output. The designers plan to collaborate with other authors, too.

Perched at the intersection of digital and physical realms, Poem Booth demonstrates AI's potential to augment human creativity. It also shows how communal experiences can be fostered by making abstract concepts tangible — bringing poetry and AI to public spaces where anyone can participate.

Beyond working directly with Poem Booth (which can be branded for activations or events), how could your organization similarly enter the evolving relationship between technology, art and society? Could you employ tech to champion a more inclusive and engaging approach to the arts and other closed-off domains?