Do No Harm

I spend a lot of time reading critiques: of our consumption-fuelled lifestyles, of ever more digitally dependent lives, of foreign aid, of the media, of data privacy, etc. I am the quintessential critic in the room, my knee-gut reaction is to find the flaws and argue. Being a cynic makes for a tough road as… Read more »

Image credit: Sanja Kusturica

Grasp: An Educational ‘Nearable’

Inspired in part by the UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge, Arunima Singh and I are exploring a small side project within the Indian education system. Based on the initial field research that conducted in Hyderabad we highlighted a potential design opportunity: Students are well aware when they are struggling or confident with a subject, and there is… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais

Research Over Skype: Making the Most of Virtual

We had a tight turn-around on a recent project and, instead of our typical face-to-face process, we conducted Skype interviews. People-centred-research is central to our design process and we always craft methods to best set the scene for what we want to learn—these Skype interviews were no exception. While not an ideal platform for user… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais

Side Projects & Elephants

The story of the blind men and the elephant is a well-known tale. Each man touches one aspect of the animal (side, tusk, trunk, foot, tail, etc.) and then stipulates that the elephant is equal to the parts they touched (wall, spear, snake, tree, rope, etc.). A great argument ensues and no consensus is reached… Read more »

Image credit: Arunima Singh

Can We Design Resiliency?

In a room full of interaction designers, I’m the annoying participant with her hand up asking the question, “Is the value of this design really worth the trade-off in resource consumption?” I’m the first to criticise the Internet of Things, and probably won’t buy a Bluetooth connected toothbrush that helps me brush my teeth for… Read more »

Image credit: Paula Te

Unanswered Questions

In preparing the presentation for my final project, I had a mini existential crisis. I am happy with the research I conducted and proud that I learned so much from that process, but I was quite dissatisfied with my final prototype. I still have very large questions: Does it actually create comfort? Can significant energy… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais

Experience Prototyping

I culminated my final project research by conducting two, four day experience prototypes with working sensors and different data visualizations. I left groups of sensors with two women in different apartments and gave the women access to their data. I also watched their data, and periodically sent SMS messages through a Skype account with actions… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais

Break Out the Circuit Boards

I’ve spent the past week building and iterating my prototype. To test my concept, I wanted to leave a semi-working prototype with residents for a few days. It is important to me to use real data so I jumped into making a working sensor network.   The Working Concept, Refined At the heart of my… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais

Low-Fidelity Prototyping

To begin the prototyping phase of my concept, I wanted to prime residents and learn about their behaviors over time. I met with six residents and together we made small kits for them to use over a week. Each resident made a layout map of their apartment and I asked them to place red or… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais

Energy Negotiations

One of the interesting things about thermodynamics is that the flow of energy is not necessarily contained within our man-made delineations of an ‘apartment’. Especially in a loosely insulated building, heat flows from hot to cold areas, irrespective of floors and between apartments. In central heating systems the radiators of apartments are literally linked, sending… Read more »

Image credit: Francesca Desmarais