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Reflections

A critical and speculative concept for a mirrored smartwatch based on research regarding the relationship between technology use and depression in young adults.


Objective

The primary goal of this project was research. Around 70% of our time was spent forming research questions, conducting research, and synthesizing the findings. The concept produced is a reaction to this research as well as speculation on the functions of the human mind and the ways it might overcome the sickness that is depression.

Context

Seven weeks of research and three weeks of concept development and prototyping with a team of three.

What I Did

Research Interviews, Affinity Diagramming, User Testing, Prototyping, Industrial Design



The Team


Samuel Tompkins (Me) Interaction Design, InformaticsSamuel Tompkins (Me) Interaction Design, Informatics

Samuel Tompkins (Me)
Interaction Design, Informatics


Sayena Majlesein MHCI+DSayena Majlesein MHCI+D

Sayena Majlesein
MHCI+D


Timothy Kwan Interaction Design, Computer ScienceTimothy Kwan Interaction Design, Computer Science

Timothy Kwan
Interaction Design, Computer Science


The Research

The majority of the 10-week project was spent on research. The research questions we pursued were:

  • What is the relationship between technology use and mental health in young adults?

  • What methods do young adults use to fight depression?

We interviewed two experts in mental health, counseling, and psychology. We also interviewed eight young adults and did a card sorting exercise with them to understand their habits and coping methods.


Sayena considers the themes emerging from the research.Sayena considers the themes emerging from the research.

Sayena considers the themes emerging from the research.


Journey map of the cyclical nature of battling depression.Journey map of the cyclical nature of battling depression.

Journey map of the cyclical nature of battling depression.

Insights

After completing the research interviews, we transferred the notes from each to post-its, and began organizing people’s thoughts and experiences into similar themes. Then, as we reflected on these themes, we began forming insights that would inform our design decisions. These were our primary insights:

  • Depression is complicated. Everyone’s experience is different, and there is no easy solution that works for everyone.

  • Self-awareness is often the first step towards healing. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t recognize it first.

  • Improving self-worth is often the most effective method of combatting depression.

  • Technology use often has a negative impact on people’s mental health.

Goals

Moving forward into the design process, we had two primary goals based on the insights.

  • Encourage more self-awareness and self-reflection.

  • Improve the user’s sense of self-worth.

  • Use biometric technology (a requirement of the project) without being intrusive or distracting.


The Design

After brainstorming many ideas, we landed on the mirrored smartwatch. I designed and fabricated the prototype.


Idea sketches for making the wizard-of-oz prototype.Idea sketches for making the wizard-of-oz prototype.

Idea sketches for making the wizard-of-oz prototype.


Final paper prototype demonstrating how foam and mirror prototype will work.Final paper prototype demonstrating how foam and mirror prototype will work.

Final paper prototype demonstrating how foam and mirror prototype will work.


The final high-fidelity wizard-of-oz prototype. A foam casing and plastic two-way mirror on top of an Apple Watch.The final high-fidelity wizard-of-oz prototype. A foam casing and plastic two-way mirror on top of an Apple Watch.

The final high-fidelity wizard-of-oz prototype. A foam casing and plastic two-way mirror on top of an Apple Watch.

Features of the Design

The Reflections mirrored smartwatch uses biometric sensors and machine learning to understand your emotions. It uses this information to prompt moments of self-reflection by displaying contextually relevant quotes and encouragements underneath the mirror.

Speculative Design

The act of viewing yourself in a mirror naturally prompts self-reflection by being literally reflective. This action, coupled with encouraging messages, links positive thinking to your view of yourself. Over time, the goal of this is to build up self-worth and thereby combat depression.

Critical Design

The watch contains multiple sensors that allow its affective computing capabilities to function. However, all of this information is private and calculated on-device. This is in contrast to some products that take user data for the purpose of creating addiction and winning in the attention economy. These products can also worsen depression.


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