EN | 繁中 | 简中

Diagnosis 8, Activity Calculator, Wish Machine

There were several design experiments before the core concept of my thesis project forms a clear shape. The three key prototypes are Diagnosis Eight, Activity Calculator and Wish Machine. The initiative was to explore values outside of a commercial spectrum. The challenge was to break the interaction design myth of an ideal interaction or an "user-friendly" design. The purpose was to find alternative values without the constraint of any kind. When social networking websites become extremely addictive, this invisible bridge between users and contents does not actually aid users as much as it serves corporations. So, what is the role of an interaction designer? Is it to provide a zero learning curve and hands-on interface so users can be more addicted to these services, or to use this powerful tool as a gatekeeper for something of genuine benefit to humans?

Diagnosis Eight

Diagnosis Eight is my first experiment which ponders the reasons behind people's obsession with taking a multitude of photos, and suggests the motive is triggered by the commercial promotion of trivial features and unnecessary functions. Consumers are under the impression that digital photos cost nothing to develop, and with functions like fast shutter speed, large aperture and automations, they can take photos under any condition and circumstance. The result is that people take photos without knowing the reasons why; users abuse the functionalities without thinking about how it is shaping their behaviors. Most camera interfaces can be operated with one click. A standard easy-to-use design follows user-centered design principles. Diagnosis Eight suggests that human behavior is shaped by these camera functions and can lead to an obsessive compulsive disorder. The design demonstrates a scenario where a user is made aware of the occurrence of her technology-caused symptoms. By pressing the medication button, Diagnosis Eight releases multiple shutter buttons on the screen that fulfills the patients' desire to click a plethora of pictures. Only one photo will be saved after all the shutter buttons are clicked. The number of shutter buttons increases and decreases depending on the user's previous behavior. The interface makes its diagnosis based on the patient's symptoms and generates the appropriate amount of digital medicine (shutter buttons). Since camera interface design is already well established, this project helps the user to take precaution after suffering from the consequences. The purpose of the design is not about performing the task faster, better or easier. Instead, the interaction focuses on the process to subtlely awake user's self-awareness of such a behavior. The idea is to reflect on the reasons why people take photos even when they don't need to, and to mock the idea of a one-click interface.

Activity Calculator

The second experiment is about serendipity and complexity in interaction. The current electronic interface is based heavily on logical interaction and set UI flows. In Donald Norman's book "Living with Complexity", he addresses the issue in the realm of human-centered design, stating that the designer's focus on simplifying interaction is actually contradictory because complexity is an important element in interaction. "Simplification is as much in the mind as it is in the device." He uses an engineering calculator and musical instruments as examples demonstrating why complexity matters. The simplification is in the mind but a zero learning curve is not the solution. User-centered design usually means fashioning methods to make things easy to use, and bring information to the surface without having users to spend much time in exploration. However, in this design experiment, complexity is intentionally revealed. By removing the graphics on the calculator and rearranging their position, a user starts to experience the complexity in interaction. Moreover, by assigning musical notes to each key, users can transfer any kind of numeral input into melodies. The purpose is to add layers on top of the existing UI structure, therefore generating unexpected results from the user's actions.

Wish Machine

Wish Machine is a message system that mixes physical journey with virtual interaction by adding value and weight to the once airy action of wish. It borrows the idea of a camera that requires the physical presence of both human and the device to perform a task, this project takes the similar initiative and applies on a poetic scenario. When a friend makes a wish for you, a wish coin will dispense from the Wish Machine. The person who receives it will not be able to reveal the message until he/she experiences the physical journey of traveling to the sender's geolocation. The physical interaction is inserted in the digital process. The interaction involves physical relocation of a person from point A to point B to complete the process. This project focuses on the experience rather than tasks. The design suggests spiritual supply other than current consumer electronics can offer which are text, sound and visual entertainment services. The design is beyond the artificial imagery and sound behind a screen. It is an experiment that cuts the virtual interaction into pieces and replaces a section with a different approach and de-virtualized digital interaction in the process.