INTERACTION DESIGN: SOCIOLOGY SUPPORTED BY TECHNOLOGY
My intention is to help innovation (new products and services) progress, and more specifically, to combine my fascination for designing with disruptive technologies (e.g. sensor tech, IoT, AR/VR) and sociology.
Technology believes that everything can be made, sociology believes that deeper reflections can be found that give useful directions. I want to work on these topics, because I was part of the first generation that could be addicted to a screen all their childhood, and this made me mentally and physically unbalanced. After I learned how to get control back, I wanted to design products that are more in line with what it means to be human.
I envision a future where luxury is about poetic satisfaction. This means in practice that I enjoy making designs and experiences that:
- allow for some freedom of interpretation
- engage movement of the whole body
- see a person as part of a bigger "system", socially connected to each other and having influence on everyone they have contact with, rather than an egoistic being
- contribute to a better world, from my values of equality, balance, freedom, and curiosity.
I study a master in Industrial Design (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands) with a specialisation in Interaction Design. Furthermore, I am a consultant in design and innovation for SURE Innovation (a consultancy firm for high-tech companies). Right now, I am working on my master thesis on the future of IoT, I am teaching myself the basics of programming AI, and I am learning Swedish!
hej! how are you?
THE FUTURE OF IOT
Internet of things (iot), privacy by design and by default, connecting the online with the offline experience, embodiment in iot, sociology, public debate, product design
DESIGN for PRIVACY AND EMBODIMENT
INDIVIDUAL project, 5 MONTHS part-time, FEBR - JUNE 2018
Shops are becoming the physical Facebook: "digital innovation" means tracking your entire route and behaviour to improve (neuro)marketing. PIVOT is a connected shopping compass, that lets you physically scroll through a store, without leaving data behind. Get inspired by quotes on the wall or on your phone, pick a compass, scan the barcode, and the compass will lead you the way.
This project is part of my ongoing master thesis, mentored by Martijn van den Broeck - UX designer Google Chrome and Pierre Lévy - professor in systemic change.
Imagine that you are in Decathlon (sports store), looking for comfortable everyday shoes. You go to the running department, where you find a quote on a wall that inspires you to have a look at the basketball department as well:
In the middle of the walkways, just like the stands for IKEA-pencils, you can find stands with the compasses. Pick a compass, scan the barcode, and the compass will lead you the way. When you arrive, you can return the compass, or scan another code.
PIVOT does not save data, nor on-device, nor in the cloud.
To realise this technically, I choose to create location tracking through Bluetooth beacons and a gyroscope. The location-calculation is done on-device in a simple microcontroller.
Make products shared and only carried when you need them.
Of course, customers can still hack the product to make it save data. This is why tried to minimise this risk, by making the product a shared device that you only pick up when you need it. The data would not be about one person, and it does not track your whole route.
Link the online and offline experience, without having to connect to the phone.
Linking the online shopping experience (webshop, instagram, blog posts) with the offline experience (the shop) was my biggest challenge. I observed that linking these experiences is a big trend (with one of the leaders named CloudTags, known from the furniture shop Made), but the available solutions require customers to install apps and register, which are, obviously, privacy invading. For PIVOT I choose to solve this with barcodes. They can be shown on screens (like Instagram or the webshop), and Pivot can scan them without any app. Furthermore, barcodes can be read with IR-sensors, which have limited recognition abilities compared to the camera’s that are needed to read alternatives as QR-codes. Last but not least, all products in a store already have barcodes: the adaptability process is more fluent.
Why a compass?
I feel shops are about wandering and exploring, which is why I choose for the compass. Secondly, shops have a physical identity, which is why I choose to make the compass also a physical device with no screen, which is also less attention-seeking in use than similar devices with a screen. Last but not least, the concept of a compass is in favour of usability: everyone knows intuitively what it does and how it works. This lowers the threshold for users to pick it up and use it.
The back of the product is transparent: all electronics are visible. I hoped that this would not only be an aesthetic manifestation for my call for transparency, but that it would also help to ensure critical users about their privacy. This was inspired from my benchmark study to other IoT products that care about privacy, like DuckDuckGo. It did not work out the way I wanted: even my fellow students did not recognise all components, and I learned that users generally don't trust electronic devices. This led me to a reflection about the role of privacy in the user experience. Should a product make people feel private and ensure them about their privacy, or should this be a basic product requirement?
Ambient and minimalistic form
Last but not least, I wanted the design to feel ambient, with a modern and digital touch. At the same time, I wanted the design to appear easy to use, and blend-in with every house-style of shops. This is why I choose for a minimalistic white design. The details like the font and arrow design are inspired from antique telescope instruments.
The holder is provided with conductive charging, so that the product feels loose in the holder, ready to be picked up by the customer.
This project is part of my master thesis, and my method will be one of the most important criteria that I will be assessed on. This is why I started with reflecting on previous successful projects.
I found that I always took the same steps. I start by defining briefly the field of interest, my values and the expected outcome. I continue with learning about the context (to find perspectives about the core of the problem), and learning how to make stuff with the technology of interest. Third, I look for inspiration: what ideas are out there that I can apply? Then, my loop of creation starts. I start by applying and developing an idea, I transform and combine them, my brain starts brainstorming, and on-the-go I select and disregard ideas. My process finalises with an evaluation where I involve external people, to have a starting point for the next iteration.
Brainstorming on a new vision for IoT in Smart Cities for my work
I've always had a strange fascination for IoT. For my work SURE Innovation, I previously brainstormed for Burkely Leather fashion, to think of how IoT can be implemented in bags. It made us all very excited about all the new possibilities that we can prototype, so we were equally excited when we got an opportunity for client Wayfinder who operates in the IoT business for Smart Cities.
Wayfinder is a start-up that produces a "smart wayfinding pole": it has LED-panels so that it can inform citizens about road maintenance, it also contains security camera's, and their next version will probably have security microphones too. They follow the big trends: they envision a modular product, big-data, facial recognition and an AI-algorithm to spy on citizens.
This is where I thought: "Let's do something with privacy." Privacy was not a new topic for me, as I often worked together with my colleague Mike de Roode, an expert in privacy and GDPR. We never advise clients to build their service on data-mining, as we do not expect that the law development on privacy will remain unchanged for the upcoming decades, and it is expensive to adjust existing businesses to new regulations. Furthermore, properly protecting data is expensive, and there are plenty of ethical risks when data is misused.
During the brainstorm, we proposed more future-proof concepts and business models. It felt like there were many promising designs possible, so the idea popped up to do an internship with them for my master thesis.
Learning about building IoT systems and learning about privacy
I first spend some time on learning how to build IoT systems. I learned to create a network following the MQTT protocol with the ESP32 microcontrollers. On the app, I can read the humidity and temperature from both microcontrollers, and turn on or off the LED.
Furthermore, I dug into the literature on privacy. I read the book "Je hebt wel iets te verbergen" (You do have something to hide) by the Dutch research journalists Maurits Martijn and Dimitri Tokmetzis, about how and to what extent we are being tracked right now, and what the societal risks are. I also looked into the Chinese social credit system, and I started discussions on privacy with Martijn van den Broeck, who now works as an UX-designer for Google Chrome, to gain different perspectives, who is now my mentor!
Designing the first concept
Before I started designing, I was inspired by David Rose, an MIT researcher who believes that IoT products should have a character and be inspired by magic. I started with psychoanalysing Wayfinder and its “competitors”. I noticed that a wayfinding sign has the quality of allowing some freedom in wandering: it only gives a feel for the right direction and not a full-guided route like TomTom.
I asked myself: "how can I invite people to wander in the city, while they still arrive at their destination on time?" Imagine that you start by selecting your destination and deadline of arrival. You will see a picture of this destination, which is inspired by “apparition” from Harry Potter. This will help users to recognise their destination easier. Next, the system traces your journey with projection art, to let you know that the system is still with you. This is inspired from Hänsel und Gretel. You are guided to your “fate” through floating lights, inspired by the Disney movie Brave.
Starting points for the next iteration: new context
In the meantime, the contract negotiations between my work and Wayfinder failed, so I was now free to choose any direction and context that I wanted. I decided to stick to wayfinding, as I felt intrigued by the idea to make people wander around and follow their curiosity. But instead of a smart city context, I decided to go for a context that is indoors (this makes technical realisation easier), places where people are not generally in a rush (so that my vision of creating wandering is acceptable), and places with economic value (so that there is a budget for the design). The context that suited these criteria well is retail.
Learning about what shapes a feeling of freedom
Because the previous iteration showed that I appreciate the value of freedom, I asked three people what experience they had to think of, when thinking of this feeling of freedom. I noticed that they all mentioned experiences where they were creative. I felt that this experience links to the experience in a department store. These stores are all about getting inspiration, where the departments are the palette: you can mix and combine objects from different departments.
Learning about the trends in retail
My benchmark study concluded that innovation in retail is all about connecting the online shopping experience with the offline experience. You find more and more screens in stores where you can browse the online catalogue. Furthermore, in-store innovation is about in-store screens and computer-vision algorithms that analyse customer behaviour for (neuro)marketing. I think privacy will be an interesting trend: many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of being tracked. This feeling of discomfort does not match with a positive shopping experience.
Designing a first concept without thinking of privacy
I started the design phase from one of the ideas from the storyboard: the idea that your body gets physically pointed in the direction that you are looking for through an interactive projection. I concluded that this does not add that much functionality to the wayfinding signs that are already available in a store. I thought that it would be nice if wayfinding would be a more ambient experience. What if salespeople can actively approach customers to help them out with what they are looking for? They can give their customers an interactive batch that reminds them when they walk past products that are advised.
Translating the core of this idea into a privacy-friendly experience
I liked the idea of giving customers new inspiration, but a personal tracking badge is an ultimate recipe to invade customer's privacy, plus, the personal advice is not easily scalable. How can we mass-produce personal advise, and invite people to explore more?
I was inspired by a talk with my boyfriend. He used to work as a salesperson at Decathlon, and he told me how he advised people who were looking for comfortable everyday shoes, to not only look at the running department but also at the basketball department as these shoes have more ankle stability and different colours. This made me realise that department stores sell many similar products across various departments.
Imagine walking through the showroom at Ikea, because you are looking for hangers to decorate your hallway. If a sensor notices that someone is watching the hangers, a projection shows up with the advice to also look in the kitchen department for other hangers. The advantage of this being interactive is that the information usually is invisible, which keeps the overall look of the showroom quieter. But the quotes can also be physical and non-interactive, which is what I choose in the final design.
I first reached out to my colleague and electrical engineer Pieter van den Boom, to discuss to what extent it was possible to create this design without saving any data. He advised me to calculate the location with Bluetooth and Bluetooth beacons. The location calculation can be done on-device, without the need to save data with a simple microcontroller
I asked my former business-development colleague at RISE Interactive Umeå Jérôme Cezac, for his thoughts on how this concept could appeal to clients. He was enthusiastic about how this connected the online shopping experience with the offline: now customers can physically scroll through a store. They are more likely to stay longer, they become more aware of what the shop has to offer, and sales-tactics can be used as input for the quotes on the wall, which all possibly increase sales.
Design evaluation with mentor and coach
I discussed the concept with my mentor and coach, and they appreciated the physicality of the compass: the physical identity matches the identity of a shop, which is all about physical products. The biggest concern from my coach is how the design will ensure users about their privacy.
Mingling in (and observing) the public debate
I started this iteration with a public debate, to learn more about the core of the problem around privacy. I was invited to a public debate about privacy and how to position ourselves to social media. The event was organised by De Balie, a platform for freedom of speech, with speakers, among me, a technology journalist from the NOS (Dutch public news) and a digital innovation policymaker from the VVD (political party).
I noticed that, even though most people don't feel very comfortable with the idea of being tracked, people feel that they are dependent on services like Facebook and therefore feel hesitant to form an opinion. Rather than providing concrete solutions, the evening was about trying to justify the situation. This made me conclude that, for the public debate, but also for the position of policymakers, it is important to start designing things that could exist in our lives right now, so that people are more able to picture the opportunities.
Learning about location tracking with Bluetooth beacons
To learn about how to apply the technology that was advised to me by Pieter, I started tutorials on "how to track your cat" (what you need is 1) a cat, 2) a set of Bluetooth beacons and 3) a Bluetooth receiver). Unfortunately, the delivery of my beacons was delayed with more than a month, so to reach my deadline I had to move on. This is why my final prototype does not technically work.
Further developing the compass
I was inspired by how online shopping often starts from a blog post or Instagram post, and how offline-shopping often starts at the online catalogue. I started considering ideas on how I could use these online points-of-interaction as input for the compass. I considered several inputs, such as apps, QR codes, NFC and RFID, but I concluded that a barcode would be the best idea. [click here to read why!]
Furthermore, I considered several features that the compass could have, such as switches that allow users to choose between being guided to one product or a range of related products, notification of arrival, battery notifications, but I decided to keep it all to the core-functionality to embrace the minimalism and ease of use.
I wanted the design to look high-fi, so that possible clients can easily imagine that the prototype works and how it would fit into their situation. This is why I decided to solder and connect all components, even though I apply Wizard-of-Oz. The electronic components, therefore, determine the size of the product: I puzzled until I found an acceptable balance between ergonomy, aesthetics and technical feasibility.
The barcode scanner is not implemented in the design, because it was technically not feasible for me to implement it in a short time, without making the shape extremely bulky. I decided that not adding this scanner, probably does not give any obstacles to the ability of people to imagine the functionality of the product.
Last but not least, I designed the design so that all components are demountable. The components are attached to a construction plate with double-sided tape or with transparent elastic bands. Even the arrow is not glued to the servo-motor. This is for the re-use of components in next iterations, or to fix broken parts. The casing and return station are 3D-printed.
I discussed the design with teachers and fellow students on the Demo Day (see picture). People responded that they were impressed by the minimalistic design and that they could see it working in shops: it could help customers to find their products in stores so that they don't have to disturb employees, the compass can help you to make a more informed decision, and they liked the playful idea behind the compass.
I decided to not conduct an extensive user-test as my priority is on learning to design for privacy.
I finalised the project by summarising my standpoint on privacy and a reflection on whether a design should ensure people about their privacy.
Furthermore, I reflected on how I can use my learnings on this project for the next steps of my thesis.
I observed this semester that the biggest problem in designing privacy-friendly solutions is the lack of examples. This limits the imaginative abilities of policymakers and fellow designers. I started to believe that any experience can be redesigned in a privacy-friendly way, by questioning yourself what the core of the experience is about, continued by asking yourself how it can be designed without the use of data.
I am going to focus my next semester on redesigning for other big players in the world of privacy, so I can demonstrate at the end of my thesis a range of possible designs that show the new possibilities. My goal is to spark the public debate and fellow designers with new, but responsible possibilities.
carpooling with strangers
interactive materiality, product design,
human-centered design, programming,
design for sharing-economy, stimulating social behaviour
carpooling: from social discomfort to social opportunities
Individual project, final bachelor project, 14 weeks part-time | VIDEO, FEBR - JUNE 2016
Carpooling is an environmentally friendly and highly social trend. To address the barrier of communicating with strangers in a car, I designed Wally – a shape-changing mirror. I observed that people already use their rearview mirror to keep an eye on their kids. This mirror is to have eye-contact with your passenger. When the traffic needs attention, or when someone in the car does not want to have a conversation, the mirror turns to a frosted state.
design inspired by tango
INTERNSHIP IN sweden, interaction design research,
explorative prototyping, rapid prototyping,
inviting for whole-body movement, inviting for intimacy
making people dance together
5-months internship at rise interactive umeå, sweden, FEBR - JUNE 2017
I feel that many qualities are hidden in tango dance. What makes people want to be so close to each other and move together? Why do we perceive tango as a beautiful act? Moreover, how can it be that the interaction between the dancers is so intuitive? I performed a research project with the goal of abstracting elements that can be applied when designing other experiences. The final deliverable is a design that makes it irresistible to people to dance together (even for Swedish software engineers). Furthermore, I have used the ideas as inspiration when designing Algoritmisch Ritme.
being someone else in virtual reality
human-centered design, sociology, story-telling,
persuasive experiences in human-computer interaction (hci),
increasing gender equality, stimulating empathy
experience sexism from the perspective of the other gender
team project, 14 weeks part-time, sept - dec 2016 | download paper CHI PLAY'17
My roles in the team: concept development, user research, experience design, promotion
We learned that sexism is not only a women's-problem, but that it also highly affects men. But, most of these experiences only feel "weird" when you look at them from the other gender's perspective: imagine that women get told that they should not tell at school that they play with Barbies, or that men get lower salaries. Through Pink and Blue Glasses is a virtual reality experience through which you can feel what it is like to be another gender, based on real stories from interviews.
We published a paper in CHI Play 2017 (ACM SIGCHI conference about games and human-computer interaction), we exhibited at the Dutch Design Week (Mind the Step) and we received third price for the Social Design Talent Awards (by the municipality of Eindhoven)!
Interactive dance installation
programming, art, mathematics, kinect,
inviting for whole-body movement
combining mathematics, art and dance
INDIVIDUAL project, 3 weeks part-time, DEC 2017/JAN 2018| download paper BRIDGES'18
Algoritmisch Ritme intrinsically motivates people to move and explore their bodily potential. The projection art responds to movement of the core body (our centre of mass), which is inspired by my previous research on tango dance. I applied the mathematical principles of a recursive function (a function that recalls itself), fractals (figures that look similar on an infinite of scales), and angle calculations.
This project is presented at the Dutch Technology Week '18 , Warehouse of Innovation, the interdisciplinary mathematical art conference Bridges MathArt Stockholm '18, and I have been nominated for the Foederer Talent Award! I am developing this project for light-art festivals, dance performance, and dance training, in collaboration with a dancer from the national ballet of Finland.
design for lower back pain
prototyping, screen interface design,
branding / graphic design, design for health
exercising: do you do it? & do you do it right?
Team project, bachelor, 14 weeks part-time | VIDEO, FEBR - JUNE 2015
My roles in the team: prototyping, interface design, graphic design
Patients with lower back pain tend to lack the coordination and motivation necessary to rehabilitate. Mirrorcle is an exercise mirror, designed in collaboration with prof. dr. Annick Timmermans from Universiteit Hasselt. The exercise mirror tracks the body position using a Kinect and projects feedback by projecting light behind a one-way mirror. This concept was designed by another design team. When our team enrolled, our challenge was to make the design elegant and portable, to further develop the concept and to promote it to an innovation contest, resulting at the third price at the TU/e contest (an innovation contest held by the university)!
human-machine interface design
INTERNSHIP, VIRTUAL REALITY, PRODUCT DESIGN,
HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN, CAD-MODELLING,
DESIGN FOR AN UNFAMILIAR TARGET GROUP
the perceived complexity of a high-tech agricultural machine
4-months internship at diverto technologies b.v., the netherlands, SEPT - DEC 2015
The Diverto-QS100 (a multifunctional agricultural machine) challenged the perceived complexity of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) among its' potential users. My job was to design an explanation of the HMI to convince customers of the current design and to propose a new design for the right-hand armrest with integrated HMI.
reflection on my experience as a CONSULTANT IN DESIGN AND INNOVATION FOR TECH-COMPANIES
SURE Innovation makes the scientific knowledge and new technologies that are developed at the University of Technology Eindhoven available to entrepreneurs. Our clients are mostly SME's with a wide variety of disciplines, who seek advice in how to innovate their business.
My colleagues are all engineers and some also have a business-background. As one of the only designers in the team, my goal is to provide a thoughtful direction that is not only exciting from a technology- or economic point-of-view, but that also supports user and society.
My responsibilities are brainstorm-sessions and projects that are in the early stage of concept development. Brainstorm sessions are my favourite activity within the job. It gives me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients in a short time: by now I have worked with Burkely (a leather-fashion company), and Oxboard (they make a high-end hoverboard, with the main selling point that it does not catch fire). Furthermore, I have worked with an entrepreneur who was working on a smart device for blind people, and a team of entrepreneurs who were working on improving the storage of silage (cow food). I recently collaborated with Wayfinder (digital way-finding poles for smart cities).
As I work in interdisciplinary teams, my goal is not just to have an inspiring conversation with every client, but also to learn from what my colleagues are advising from their point-of-view. For example, I learned about the new privacy laws, ways to technically realise modular products, and material properties! My colleagues are also inspiring for me on a personal level.
They are not only all ambitious and skilful, but they also showed me how to stay true to myself. We had memorable conversations when a co-worker talked about his burn-out, when we had trouble to stay close to our values when working with "difficult" clients, and one of my female co-workers talked about her struggle to get equal salary for an internship she was persuing. And of course, we also feel at ease in messing with each other and having good laughs!
CONSULTANCY work at SURE INNOVATION
designer by day, designer by night! and there is breaks
To clear my soul, I spend my time outside (preferably free-riding on the back of a horse), dancing, and exploring art. In the weekends, I take care of a horse named Valeska, and together we explore the forest. With my student-dancing association Footloose we enjoy modern dance and hip-hop, which often results in going out with good moves on the dance-floor. To unleash excess creative energy, I love to cook, explore photography and paint!
On my more serious moments I work on developing myself on topics that do not have something to do with my career. I am quite fanatic when it comes to training horse-riding, for which I currently train once a week at the stables of Miranka Schellekens (trainer of the paralympic dressage team of Israel). Futhermore, I am learning Swedish, I work on developing a present and calm mind, and I coach first-year students (and the students that come back to me after finishing their course) in their self-development.
HOBBIES AND SIDE-PROJECTS