A critical and speculative concept for a mirrored smartwatch based on research regarding the relationship between technology use and depression in young adults.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
After brainstorming many ideas, we landed on the mirrored smartwatch. I designed and fabricated the prototype.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2019