Archive for April, 2009

CIID on infosthetics

April 30, 2009


Kevin and Marcin have written a really nice article on  The article is a sum up of the data visualization class we took at CIID back in November taught by Shawn Allen.

” Under supervision of Shawn Allen from Stamen Design, the students were given a two week long class in data visualisation. Many students had no previous experience in programming or data visualization but managed to create a wide range of applications that used different approaches to deal with large amount of information. They got a crash course in Actionscript 3, lectures in how to approach Data Visualization as a discipline and details on how to connect and parse information from the UN Data site.” Read the whole article here.

Updated thesis statement

April 29, 2009

On Monday we officially started our thesis at CIID, so over the past few days i have been re-writing my thesis statemant of intent for my topic. Here it is!

What is my thesis to me
As someone who is still in the early stages of their career I see my thesis as my golden ticket to learn who I am as a designer and to prepare myself for my future after CIID. It is an opportunity for me to explore a new area that I am extremely excited about, yet have no pre-conceived ideas about what the outcome will be. I feel the area I have chosen will challenge me intellectually and technically as a designer. I want my thesis to allow me to use my natural strengths of product design, service design and prototyping, but also allow room for me to keep building on the technical skills that I have been gradually developing.

Thesis Topic

Area: Personal Informatics

Personal Informatics is an emerging field that can be characterized as the monitoring and displaying of information about our daily lives through products, services and systems. I believe this new realm has huge potential to redefine the way in which we interact with the physical world and gain insights about our actions that make up our daily routines. I am excited that this greater awareness has the potential to help us adjust and moderate our behaviour in a number of positive ways.

Currently in our everyday lives we are often engulfed in specific contexts, which makes it often difficult
to see the bigger picture. Personal informatics can enable us to see relationships or pinpoint actions in our behaviours we would otherwise miss.

There are two challenging areas that I see within Personal Informatics that really interest me. The first is how can these personal insights and data behind your lifestyle be delivered in such a way that it will impact someone on an emotional level. How can you motivate people so they will actually change their behaviour rather than turning a blind eye to reality? In our world “there are already lots of useless devices, tracking consumption behaviour” (Robert Fabricant) The majority of these devices contain some graphical display, which works fine for things we are not so aware of, but areas that we are already very conscious of (i.e. how many calories) need to be delivered within something that is more motivating then a bar chart. The information needs to be transformed into something meaningful and understandable for the user.

The second area is that our lives are already infiltrated with huge amounts of information everyday from emails to RSS feeds. So how can the interface for these products, services or software be designed in such a way that the information you receive does not add to the information overload that currently exists. Plus it should not result in people compulsively checking their ‘data’ as also many people currently do with email.

Context: Life Balance

The context I want to explore personal informatics in is how can it be used to help people balance their lives and help them meet their personal priorities. I will use research to pinpoint either a more specific value that is important to people that personal informatics could be applied to or a set of values that could be subjective to each user.

A theme that I am really interested in and I see as an underlying thread throughout the project is addressing the issue of ‘time poverty’ People need to feel connected to people, places they live, even the food they eat. Traditionally this was much easier to achieve, as family all lived together, you new all your relatives and you new that your food had come from your back garden. These connections have been weakened because of a fast pace of life. The advance of new labour saving technologies has allowed us to achieve more in a shorter space of time, yet instead of using the time we save to ‘slow’ down we are prone to making ourselves even busier. How can we ‘slow’ down our pace of life whilst still meet important responsibilities?


At the moment I have no pre-defined outcome of what form I would like the idea to take (TUI, GUI etc) However idealistically I would love to make a working tangible product and design a service that was attached to it to further the experience, and within the service a community would exist. I strongly believe that being part of a community makes people’s feel more responsible for their actions and more valued.

During my thesis I would like to challenge myself in

I want to challenge my design thinking, to a deeper and more emotional level. I want to continue my learning on the correct use of metaphors, affordances and appropriate use of technology that is appropriate and makes sense to non-expert users. I will push myself to gain a more practical knowledge of electronics and programming. Where it is possible I will leave my comfort zone If it will have a positive effect on my learning and project experience. I will also work at becoming more articulate and confident at presenting my work.


Behaviour is our medium..

April 26, 2009

After posting the presentation that Robert Fabricant (Frog Design) presented at Vancouver IxDAKevin pointed me in the direction of the live presentation below. It is a great watch and especially very inspiring for me as he talks about a lot of things i hope to be focusing on for my thesis. As interaction designers he see’s us as people with the ability to change people’s behaviours if you give them the right platform and inspiration to do so. The challenge is designing something that allows them to do so, how can you design something that will show us our daily behaviour, but on an emotional level, not just showing a graph on a screen of how much energy we are using or how much money we have spent, how do you create something that will actually inspire us to make those changes. What he is saying is very related to the emerging field of personal informatics, which is what i will be focusing on for the next 3/4 months at CIID, but working in the specific context of how people balance their lives, depending on what is important to them.

    Recent Bookmarks..

    April 26, 2009

    I haven’t done this for a while….

    post NEXT excitment

    April 22, 2009

    Now we are back at CIID after the easter holidays Mimi has put together  great video from the NEXT conference in Arhus where some of us were exhibiting our TUI projects just before the holidays. Thanks Mimi, great job! 🙂

    What is interaction design?

    April 20, 2009
    At CIID we are currently thinking about what we believe Interaction Design to be, and how do we communicate this to the outside world. Here is an interesting presentaion from Frog Design at Vancouver IxDA where they state that “interaction design is not about computing technology” Some more background information on the presentation can be found here. Via Choosenick

    Eilidh@johnny holland

    April 20, 2009


    I am very happy to say that i have just had my first article published on the online magazine ‘johnny holland’. Johnny Holland is an open collective exploring the interactions of experience design. The first article i wrote was an introduction to personal informatics. You can check it out here.

    Public sector innovation

    April 16, 2009

    A great project video! a result of a joint project with IDEO, Forum for the Future  and Local Governments in the UK.  Via Choosenick

    Service Design-the end…

    April 11, 2009

    At the end of our service design block we all presented our final video’s and presentations, as i have already posted. But for a little extra Ana-Camila who had been helping throughout the five weeks put together two amazing booklets documenting all our work…she did a fantastic job!  s7006655The booklet outlines the course and each project produced. This is what we wrote for the travel global ¦ read local section of the book!

    What is it?
    Travel Global | Read Local is a library service for hotels and their guests. It aims to promote Danish culture & knowledge to visitors of Denmark by giving them access to library materials and services. At the same time, Travel Global | Read Local allows hotels to serve their guests in new ways by arranging to have library materials delivered directly to their rooms.

    Who is it for?
    Travel Global | Read Local is for hotels and their guests. Many visitors to Denmark are eager to find local knowledge about sights, activities, books, music and other things that suit their personal interests. Few places in Denmark provide such information to help people experience the local culture in a meaningful way.  Hotels are interested in meeting the needs of their customers and providing them a comforting and welcoming stay.

    Why is it valuable?
    Hotel guests are able to explore Danish culture through the library and have books, CDs and DVDs waiting at their hotel room when they arrive, all for free.

    Hotels that partner with the library will have a unique service that allows them give their guests a personalized experience.

    The library can continue it’s mission of providing free access to culture and information while at the same time lead the way in promoting Denmark as a country which places a high value in the sharing of knowledge.  Possible business opportunities exist for both the library and hotels to offer paid subscriptions and premium services.

    How does it work?
    A special library website promotes materials and information relevant for visitors and guests in Denmark. When a visitor books a room with a partner hotel, they are given the ability to reserve materials from the library website. The library will arrange to deliver the materials to the hotel and the hotel will manage the rest. A hotel guest has many options for returning books, reserving more books, etc.

    What were your key learnings?
    People coming to stay in Copenhagen all begin by following a very similar travel process. In general, many people who are new to an area often seek the local library because its universal services make it reliable. Many people visit a country to learn about it’s culture yet they have different tastes and interests. There is a need for local and trustworthy information that can be tailor made for specific people.

    A little about our process…………

    Week 1: The Context
    Finding a design domain and building a user research plan was the primary focus of week 1. We had visits at several libraries to help generate a broad understanding of the existing system and services. We spoke with experts to gain knowledge in current trends, challenges and other issues facing libraries.

    By the end of the week we chose ‘foreigners’ as a user group and made research plans to further refine this as a design domain.  We were interested in how library services could play a role with people who are visiting Denmark or who have just moved to Denmark. Plans for the following week included visits to the airport and other places where we might be able to find foreigners just arriving in Denmark.

    Week 2: User Research
    We conducted user research in the field and turned insights into design challenges. Most of the research took place at the airport and tourist information office where we conducted video interviews with tourists and foreigners living in Denmark. We were interested to know how they prepared for their trip and what resources they accessed once they arrived in Denmark.

    3346469181_bc8ea408c7Card Sorting activity in the library

    After this we had the enormous task of finding the best quotes and observations from all our notes, videos and photos. For each insightful quote or observation we collected (we collected a lot), we had to answer “what does it mean?” Once this helped us understand the value in our insight, we then had to ask “so what?” As a group this really helped us figure out what was interesting and if it was useful.  The goal of this process was to create 3 well thought out design challenges that we could then create concepts for.


    Week 3: First Concepts
    We looked at three design challenges and created as many concepts as possible. We conducted many brainstorming sessions which included classmates not involved with our project. At the end of the week, we had literally hundreds of concepts. Most were purely inspirational but they provided material to develop several solutions and begin the process of planning how to execute an initial experience prototype.

    After presenting three concepts to the class, we decided to move forward with one that involved incorporating library and hotel services. In a matter of days we were able to make a short video that communicated the idea.

    3379090861_a0f3b6de41Initial video scenario props

    Week 4: Experience Prototyping
    We were fortunate to havel Hotel Fox in Copenhagen help us test our experience prototype with their guests. We prepared brochures, order forms and mini catalogs for the receptionist to distribute to guests when they check in to the hotel. We also brought 20 of our own books that the guests could borrow. The books were a mix of novels, guide books and design related photo books. Almost all of them had something to do with Denmark. We also included DVDs and a few other items in the catalog even though we did not bring them to the hotel. If a guest would like to borrow a book, they just need to fill out a small order form and give it to the receptionist. We also included questionnaires so that the guests could give us feedback about the service. Inside each book is a bookmark with recommendations based on that particular book. These include sights, other library materials and places to visit (i.e. The Danish Design Museum). For the sake of this prototype, the role of the library is not important. However we still included books and print material

    3390316982_7bc8d153892Books we gave Hotel FOX

    We spent a few hours each day hanging out in the lobby and observing guests as they receive the brochure when they check in. The idea is to see if hotel guests, who generally only stay 2-3 nights, are interested in looking at new books and bringing them back to their rooms. We would also like to know what types of books are most popular and how the receptionists are able to manager the service.

    3392366588_c564f665a0_b1Guest recieving welcome pack whilst checking in.

    Week 5: Solution Concept
    We refined our hotel/library concept based on the insights from our experience prototypes and produced communication pieces to help make the concept clear and understandable. These included a concept video, service blueprint and system diagrams. We also began thinking about future scenarios based on the service we created and how a larger system could give travelers access to books all over the world.

    3398181055_ff31839bdc_bWelcome pack contents

    3398160909_8def4213ea_bPersonalised travel maps

    3390291372_227050a2312‘Copenhagen Design’ map

    3398157715_259336d8ae_b‘Just for children’ Book bundle


    April 7, 2009

    At the end of last week and over the weekend, four groups from CIID travelled to Arhus to exhibit at the NEXT conference organised by the Innovation lab. Over the few days we showed our projects from the four week TUI course we had done earlier in the year with Heather Martin…and i am so happy to say that the meet the food you eat scale behaved very well and didn’y have to be fixed once! Here is some footage of it in action and some other cool projects that were at the exhibition!

    little boy playing with the meet the food you eat scale!

    a plant that coughs when people smoke near it, made by Kitchen Budapest

    cool boxing game developed by the distance lab

    a rotating persistence-of-vision display that creates glowing 3D images, by Nick Sears