Catalysts

PRODUCT DESIGN
SPRING 2020
Task:

To design a connected ecosytsem of interfaces that could help improve people's at-home relationships and well-being during the corona virus stay-at-home order.

Our Response:

Catalysts foster motivation and sense of purpose by leveraging existing relationships among housemates. A mobile app helps establish goals for collaborative activities through recorded voice messages. The discs help housemates match interests, find common free time, and build a visual network of collaborative activities.

My Role:

Research lead, storyboarding, material exploration, overall concept development, and assisting prototype refinement.

Team:

_ Verli Chen
_ Michael Owyang

Context:

_ 5 weeks
_ Class: Interface Design 2
_ Team Project

This work is still in progress.
Comprehensive video and write up coming soon :)

For now, please enjoy these prototyping demonstrations and our slide deck presentation.

SELF AND WORLD ANALYSIS

Next Steps

Moving forward, we have two main goals for further developing our design outside of class.

First we would like to conduct user testing with our prototypes to better understand how people might use and perceive our product.

We also want to explore the integration with existing calendar infrastructures, such as Google Calendar.

Key Takeaways

This project helped me build trust and empathy with my teammates. We learned how to adjust and reference research during a significant design pivot. We were able to leverage our unique strengths while simultaneously allowing for individual growth in technical and critical thinking skills.

PROBLEMATIC

Nonhuman beings may not be readily noticeable, but their contributions to each other and our world are vast. They may be unseen, unheard, or unmoving to the human eye, but they are creating and sustaining symbiotic relationships within a plurality of species. And yet, we don’t often acknowledge these nonhumans when we think about collaborative problem solving, design and resilience within the world.

Echo

Interaction Design
FALL 2019
Task:
Create a working prototype of a piece of furniture that senses and responds to human interaction and present a product video.
Response:
The Echo bench plays a previously recorded message when someone sits down and offers an opportunity to record a new message to be played for the next person.
My Contributions:
Ideation, physical computing research, basic Arduino coding and wiring, construction and aesthetics, illustrations, After Effects video editing, and writing.
Team:
_ Verli Chen
_ Kevin Oh
Context:
_ 8 weeks
_ Team Project
_ Physical Computing Class
FINDING AND DEFINING THE SITUATION
We were first tasked to explore situations and spaces that could provide an intriguing opportunity for a responsive piece of furniture.

When brainstorming situations, I asked my fellow teammates what values they'd like to express in our project. We synthesized our interests into two themes:

1. Collaborative / Shared Experience
2. Subversive Design

Next, we utilized these themes to brainstorm a variety of specific situations and focused on three spaces.

1. Modern Stairwell
2. Outdoor Walkway
3. Shared Workplace
IDEATION
1. Speak Up Stool: Placed around a table within a collaborative workplace. The stool would rise or lower depending on the audio levels recorded from the sitter.

2. Quirky Pillow: Placed within a public workplace/relaxation stairwell, the Quirky Pillow would act like a "hot potato" and wiggle and squeak depending on audio levels recorded from a group of people.

3. Messenger Bench: Placed within a public outdoor space, the messenger bench would allow people to leave an anonymous message for the next sitter to hear.
REFINEMENT
As a team, we decided to pursue the messenger bench idea within an outdoor walkway space. We believed this idea offered the most potential to utilize our design themes, challenge ourselves within the scope of our time constraints, and offer an uncommon and engaging platform for human-computer interaction.


CODING, TROUBLESHOOTING, AND BUILDING
Pulling from various open-source resources online, we compiled an effective code and adjusted variables to suit our project's needs.

When we ran into coding obstacles, such as setting the internal timing for the 10 second LED, we would isolate sections of code and inspect each line until the functions were working independently. Then, we would reintegrate the code and move forward.

We created our bench from an IKEA table and restructured it to fit our computing hardware. We used a vinyl printer for aesthetic branding and typography.
FINAL DESIGN
The Echo Bench would be placed near a public walkway so that people could sit, reflect, and leave their message in a serendipitous moment. The interaction provides an opportunity for people to reach out to the world; to express concerns and hope within the safety of anonymity. People can express themself freely; whether that be voice, song, or other forms of audio. We defined this experience as "Echo: a messenger who reflects and reverberates the introspective expressions of humanity."
MOVING FORWARD
In the coming months we plan to coordinate alongside UW faculty to install Echo in a public space on campus. We hope to gain insight on how the experience is perceived, how it can be improved, and how to navigate the potential for both positive and negative impact inherent in anonymous messaging
Echo
INTERACTION DESIGN
FALL 2019
Task
Create a working prototype of a piece of furniture that senses and responds to human interaction and present a product video.
Response
The Echo bench plays a previously recorded message when someone sits down and offers an opportunity to record a new message to be played for the next person.
Team
_ Verli Chen
_ Kevin Oh
My Contributions
Ideation, physical computing research, basic Arduino coding and wiring, construction and aesthetics, illustrations, After Effects video editing, and writing.
Context
_ 8 weeks
_ Team Project
_ Physical Computing Class
Defining the Situation
We were first tasked to explore situations and spaces that could provide an intriguing opportunity for a responsive piece of furniture.

When brainstorming situations, I asked my fellow teammates what values they'd like to express in our project. We synthesized our interests into two themes:

1. Collaborative / Shared Experience
2. Subversive Design

Next, we utilized these themes to brainstorm a variety of specific situations and focused on three spaces.

1. Modern Stairwell
2. Outdoor Walkway
3. Shared Workplace
Ideation
1. Speak Up Stool: Placed around a table within a collaborative workplace. The stool would rise or lower depending on the audio levels recorded from the sitter.

2. Quirky Pillow: Placed within a public workplace/relaxation stairwell, the Quirky Pillow would act like a "hot potato" and wiggle and squeak depending on audio levels recorded from a group of people.

3. Messenger Bench: Placed within a public outdoor space, the messenger bench would allow people to leave an anonymous message for the next sitter to hear.
Refinement
As a team, we decided to pursue the messenger bench idea within an outdoor walkway space. We believed this idea offered the most potential to utilize our design themes, challenge ourselves within the scope of our time constraints, and offer an uncommon and engaging platform for human-computer interaction.
CODING, TROUBLESHOOTING, AND BUILDING
Pulling from various open-source resources online, we compiled an effective code and adjusted variables to suit our project's needs.

When we ran into coding obstacles, such as setting the internal timing for the 10 second LED, we would isolate sections of code and inspect each line until the functions were working independently. Then, we would reintegrate the code and move forward.

We created our bench from an IKEA table and restructured it to fit our computing hardware. We used a vinyl printer for aesthetic branding and typography.
FINAL DESIGN
The Echo Bench would be placed near a public walkway so that people could sit, reflect, and leave their message in a serendipitous moment. The interaction provides an opportunity for people to reach out to the world; to express concerns and hope within the safety of anonymity. People can express themself freely; whether that be voice, song, or other forms of audio. We defined this experience as "Echo: a messenger who reflects and reverberates the introspective expressions of humanity."
MOVING FORWARD
In the coming months we plan to coordinate alongside UW faculty to install Echo in a public space on campus. We hope to gain insight on how the experience is perceived, how it can be improved, and how to navigate the potential for both positive and negative impact inherent in anonymous messaging.