My Role
Lead Product Designer, UX Researcher, Rapid Prototyping, Electronic Programming.
In a time when we are the most technologically connected we’ve ever been, we've become disconnected.
50% of lonely adults reported that no one in the past few weeks had “taken more than just a few minutes” to ask how they are doing in a way that made them feel like the person “genuinely cared.”
A spectrum of mental health
1 — Flourishing
Strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others
2 — Languishing
Feeling empty, unmotivated, stagnated
3 — Depression
Feeling despondent, drained and worthless
“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.”
The Problem
Connection is a core need for people as social beings. Despite being more technologically connected, people in our society are disconnected from one another and increasingly experiencing feelings of languish and loneliness.
Collective Effervescence.
Coined by sociologist Émile Durkheim
The sense of energy and harmony people feel when they come together in a group around a shared purpose.
Before Covid, research showed that more than 3/4 of people found collective effervescence at least once a week and almost a third experienced it at least once a day.
“Emotional contagion is when we are literally infected with other people’s emotions,”
Gabriel, S., Naidu, E., Paravat,i E., C. D. Morrison & Gainey, K. (2019). Creating the sacred from the profane: Collective effervescence and everyday activities.
Addressing The Problem
How Might We spark collective effervescence in a time of disconnection?
Target Audience.
We focus on people in communities.
We aim to connect people and foster collective effervescence within and between communities, big or small.
Unmet needs.
We are social creatures with a basic need to belong.
We are addressing the feelings of loneliness and languishing as people feel disconnected from their communities.
Play Leaders and Play Followers
Our process
Prototype rapidly and fail early
We want to get as many people as possible participating in our experience to get large quantities of varied data.
Sprint Cycle graphic
Design Sprints
This approach gives us flexibility to pivot and adapt, while being focused on the problem space
Sprint 1
The objective of the first sprint is to ideate installation and interaction concepts that spark joy amongst groups of people. In this first sprint, it was also important to test our proof of concept in it’s lowest fidelity and see if our hypothesis and assumptions were accurate. The learnings from this sprint were then built upon and improved in the following sprints.
Crazy 8's Ideation Sessions
Crazy 8's paper sketches
Mapping our ideas on a Impact-Feasibility matrix
Ideas on an impact feasibility matrix
Building out the initial direction
Interactive Tiles
What is it?
A 3x3 grid of switch-enabled interactive tiles that light up when you step on them
How does it work?
Step on any tile to make the surrounding LED lights glow. Multiple tiles can be pressed at once, which allows for several people to interact with together
Photo: Testing prototype by stepping on it
Materials used
Scrap cardboard pieces, 9 Switches, 3 Resistors of 10k, 5k, 2k ohm each, LED strip, Jumper wires, Arduino UNO/MEGA, Breadboard
Circuit Diagram of lights
Photo: Team testing prototype response
Photo: Team testing hard wiring connectionsPhoto: Team waiting patiently testing prototype
Technical Learnings
LEDs did not light up
Arduino ran out of RAM
One of the LED strip’s circuit is broken
Use Arduino MEGA
Replace LED strip
Reading from the resistor ladder is inconsistent
Cable gets loose sometimes and noise in environment affects analog-Read(pin)
Solder most wires and add tolerance setting for the reading
Buttons aren’t always clicked on when we step on the tile
Cardboards do not always leverage the feet’s force to press the button
Use sturdier boards, and improve activation mechanism
User Testing
User Test Observation
To understand how users interact with the tiles
To evaluate the social interactions that happened while the user(s) are interacting with the product
Criteria of Success:
1. Number of people using it
2. Number of people spectating it
3. Degrees of separation
4. Smiles and level of happiness observed during usage
5. Number of people that are influenced to use it
We will see a few people exploring the installation and they act as catalyst that invites more people to join, ultimately connecting strangers within the group
People will jump onto it and explore it
We expect to see different types of interaction with the tiles.
We expect a diverse group using this at the same time (Not just one person or people in the same group)
User Test Observation
User Test Observation
User Test Observation
User Test Observation
User Test Observation
User Test Observation
Follow-up Feedback
“I was scared to step on it. I dont want to break it.”
“We just thought it would be fun to jump on it :)”
“The sign drew me in”
“Reminds me of DDR” - many people and even a professor
“I like the feeling of the depression going downward”
“I thought it would be cool if the lights radiated outward”
User Testing Results
Heat Map
Heat map of results, most users stepped on bottom right and left tiles
Recorded observations
46 people who passed by didn't notice it. They were looking at phone, walking in a group, or walking in and out of the building.
23 people that walked by dismissed it. They turned their heads and saw it but didn't stop walking
4 people stopped walking to look then continued
6 people experienced a faulty start. They were still interested in trying again to see what happens and pressed again.
5 people stayed around to watch people interact with it
10 people stopped walking to look cause others were looking
17 people had a full interaction, stepping on more than 3 tiles with both feet on the prototype
3 people waved at the camera
6 people was walking with a friend and stepped on it, also encouraged a friend to participate
1 pair jumped and played on it, fully committed
1 pair made a connection with a new person
passers bys
conversion rate
Sprint 1 Findings and Next steps
User Test Observation
Main Findings
People are more likely to interact with it if they see someone else interacting as well
People are more likely to interact in groups/pairs
People enjoyed the haptic feedback from pressing the tiles but the delayed response from the lights discouraged some
What improves conversion?
Improve affordance by adding more signifiers
Improve the level of completion of form
Increase the visual gaze points beyond floor
What improves interactions between people?
Scaling up the prototype by adding more element (platforms) or spacing them out
Improve responsiveness
Add surprising or changing elements
Add goals that require collaboration to achieve
Design questions going forward
How might we increase initial user engagement - so that people don't just dismiss our prototype?
How might we make the interaction more obvious but yet leave an element of surprise?
How might we turn second-degree connections into first-degree?
How might we make a system that requires multiple people interacting with it, so they make an effort to collaborate and interact?
Sprint 2
We aim to use our insights from Sprint 1 and prototype a concept that is informed by our new design questions. Our goal with this second sprint is to take one step closer to our final concept. We want to get refine a more natural and exciting interaction model, and make headway in having our technical components functional.
Ideation direction
Clap-to-activate light and bubble installation
The concept consists of multiple circular light-up platforms surrounding a bubble generator that activates when people clap for it
The intent of this setup is for people to collaborate with each other. By standing on the platforms and clapping together, to activate the bubbles
The more people clap together, the more bubbles keep coming out!
Sketch of idea
Conceptual Map
Interaction Map Iteration 1
Battery powered bubble machine
Generate bubbles
Microphones, Bluetooth connected ESP32
Register sound and provide feedback with bubbles
Translucent acrylic platforms, LED strips
Light up the platform when user steps on it
Storyboard sketch 1
Storyboard sketch 2
Storyboard sketch 3
Mod 1: Bubble research
Testing different combinations of...
Bubble solutions, wands, angles, fan speed, wand movement, positions of machines
using motor to blow bubbles
wizard of oz bubble research
Wizard of Oz
Important bubble research to try out possible movements of the machine
Bubble machine prototype hardware
Bubble machine prototype hardware
LoFi Rapid Prototype
Lofi bubble machine rapid prototype
Technical Challenges
Fan was not able to blow out bubbles
The RPM of the motor was slow, and thus didn’t have enough power
The original fan was radiating air outwards and not directly into the bubble wand loops
Purchased a higher RPM and power computer Fan
Stepper Motor was not able to coordinate with DC Motor
The speed of Stepper Motor was too fast for the the Fan
Adjusted the Rotation Speed of the Stepper Motor in alignment with the fan
Bubble solution seems fragile
Bubble solution from Dollar Tree not reliable or good quality. Adding dawn dish soap helped a little.
Buy better quality bubble soap
Mod 2: Platform building
Creating platforms
Creating platform gutter for wiring
Painting platforms
Platform prototype hardware
Platform prototype hardware
Painting platforms
Technical Challenges
LEDs did not light up when pressure was placed on platform
Plugging in LED strip to another arduino board
Providing LED lights with a different power source
Platforms would get spoilt if people with wet or moist shoes stepped on them
Blue Foam under platforms gessoed and foam board tops spray painted
Extra coatings help platforms be more resilient and waterproof
Mod 3: Cloud intermediary
Cloud hardware
Cloud hardware
Cloud circuit diagram
cloud hard wiring
Technical Challenges
ESP8266 does not connect to multiple endpoints as server
ESP8266 is not the best choice to act as Access Point (AP) mode if receiving data is not expected regularly
Switch to other sources as server (i.e. Adafruit IoT Platform, Azure IoT, Raspberry Pi as MQTT server)
Jamming two analog devices into one pin
ESP8266 only has one analog pin
Use a multiplexer to switch between signals
LED light doesn’t work in some cases
Serial port does not run well with the LED library (issues with UART and I2C connections the library establishes)
Avoid beginning serial at all when using LED strip, only use serial ports when debugging non-LED issues
Sprint 2 Findings and Next steps
Super Lofi bubble machine
Main Findings - How do we improve form and technical functionality?
Clapping as an interaction model is not intuitive or easily detectable by microphones
The platform lights should radiate inward to create a better glowing effect that is more engaging to stand on
Switching to use a cloud intermediary as there was difficulty in having multiple chips communicating with one centralised chip
Sprint 3
Sprint 3 would be our final sprint, and the goal would be to iterate on our concept from Sprint 2 based on our technical insights, and refine it to create our final concept for this class. We will be taking our combined insights from both Sprint 1 and 2 while creating this final prototype, so that it can be as research-informed and effective as possible.
The Bubbliser
A collaborative, joy sparking public installation. The Bubbliser’s goal is to evoke joy in a group of people by encouraging collaboration in a public space.
Pressure-sensitive platforms
Bubble machine
Platforms light up when stepped on
Bubble machine turns on when 2 or more platforms are activated
Conceptual Map Revised
Interaction Model Iteration 2 revised
Putting the parts together
Building bubble machine casingbubble machine casing in public
functioning light up platform
supporting interaction model
Making the Bubble Machine
Refine form and encase 2-way bubble machine
Procure better quality bubble solution
Connect bubble machines to ESP 8266 to receive signal
Emits bubbles based on the strength/amount of people stepping on the platforms
Pressure Sensitive Platform
6 octagonal high rised platforms
Securing the LED lights, Arduino & wirings inside the platform
Frosted acrylic platforms as the top
Detects users with pressure-sensitive resistors
Cloud Intermediary
Sends signal if pressure is detected
Subscribe to the intermediary for changes
User Testing
User testing full set up in the park
Observe and understand how users interact with the platforms
Observe target audience of the product in a crowded public space
Observe the social interactions that happens when multiple users are interacting with the prototype at the same time
Criteria of Success:
1. Number of people using it
2. Number of people spectating it
3. Degrees of separation
4. Smiles and level of happiness observed during usage
5. Number of people that are influenced to use it
Forsyth Park
11am - 12:30pm
Covert observation
Informal follow-up interviews
Signage to draw the crowd
Public Engagement photo: Young kids
Public Engagement photo: happy parent
Public Engagement photo: young kids
Public Engagement photo: young kids
Follow-up Feedback
“Whatever brings him joy, brings me joy”
“This made my day a little better”
“This project is really cool, I really like it”
“Seeing them (the kids) have fun put a smile on my face ”
“My son loves the bubbles, this is pretty fun”
User Testing Results
Movements and steps taken
Heat map, most interactions from entrance pavement
Recorded observations
> 50 people who passed by didn't notice it. They were looking at phone or talking to their own group
> 80 people that walked by dismissed it. They turned their heads and saw it but didn't stop walking.
15 people stopped and looked at others who have stopped. These people did not join
4 people stopped and looked at others who have stopped, and talked to us about the project as we reached out
19 people very briefly touched or nudged a platform and then walked off
3 people who were strangers to each other surrounded it and discussed what the installation is
3 young adults that didn’t know each other interacted with the platforms at the same time
6 parents with children interacted with it, and discussed with fellow parents
4 people who were strangers to each other interacted with it and with each other
6 children that didn’t know each other interacted with the installation and with each other
Bubble Machine was struggling to produce enough bubbles to be very noticeable
Total platform interactions
Unique Participants
Sprint 3 Findings
Public Engagement photo: young kids
Main Findings
People felt more encouraged to interact with it if someone else was already interacting with the platforms
The concept enticed a younger demographic more (children and teens), which was followed by older people (parents)
It was very successful in producing joy, however not as much in terms of connecting people
Main Challenges
LEDs were not powerful enough to be bright during broad daylight
Bubble Machine was struggling to produce enough bubbles to be very noticeable
Younger children had to step in the middle of the platform in order to activate the pressure sensitive resistors
Final Product
User Testing full set up in the park
Next steps and Improvements
Scaling up the prototype by adding more elements (platforms and bubble machines) or spacing them out
Have more powerful lighting elements and bigger bubble machine
Adding more explicit collaborative interactions
Exploring more locations
User Testing full set up in the park
User Testing signage in the park
User Testing full set up in the park test
Product Vision
Scalable render vision of full set up
Scalable render vision of full set up
Scalable render vision of full set up
Scalable render vision of full set up
The bubbliser Executive Summary