Critical and Speculative Design

Applying critical and speculative design approaches, CRIT has developed nine critical designs, part of a collection entitled “Persuasive Anxiety,” to explore links between personal informatics, body anxieties, and surveillance. Outcomes of this work are further discussed in: Gross, Shad, et al. “Persuasive anxiety: Designing and deploying material and formal explorations of personal tracking devices.” Human–Computer Interaction 32.5-6 (2017): 297-334.

Hatching Scarf

Design by Youngsuk Lee

Hatching scarf is a computational interactive design. Whenever the user reaches into an attached pouch, the scarf shape changes. Its visual and interactive vocabularies are inspired by the way a mother bird brings food to the nest for her chicks. In a similar way, the scarf hatches into larva, it vibrates, and it breathes life when its doors open up to the world through the act of eating. Materials include fur, metal wires, paper, rubber, a flex sensor, motors, metal jewelry and beads.

Pill Box

Design by Youngsuk Lee

The Pill Box provides a means for disguising addictions while simultaneously exposing the destructive nature of those habits. The device works to camouflage the transportation of addictive substances in everyday, wearable objects. To retrieve the substances, decorative aspects of the Pill Box must be ruined, exposing the nature of the habits facilitated by the device. The version of the Pill Box seen here is made with plastic gears, metal hardware, beads, clay, silver chains, and wire.

Candy Camera

Design by Shad Gross

The Candy Camera explores the potential for constructing meaning from mundane eating habits. Made from a traditional gumball machine, lcd screen, webcamera and Raspberry Pi, it takes a picture when it is used and adds it to a slideshow that is displayed in the bowl. By capturing moments of indulgence, the Candy Camera gives the user the opportunity to construct their own narratives about their consumption of candy without imposing specific judgment.

Fractured View

Design by Shad Gross

The Fractured View employs the act of squeezing as a means of relieving stress, but also employs that action as part of a creative process. Made from liquid latex, acrylic paint, PVC pipe, an FSR sensor array, and a web camera, the device captures an image when squeezed, distorting it based on strength and duration. Through combining embodied action with creative expression, the Fractured View allows for the channeling of anxiety into creation.

Sleeping Bird

Design by Youngsuk Lee

Humans often experience anxiety when they desire something they cannot refuse. Our struggle to control certain behaviors can lead us to compulsively pursue “pleasurable things.” In this design, the friendly bird will wake up and remind someone of their destructive behavior. Sleeping Bird is fabricated using a 3D color printer, and its wings include wood, plastic, rubber, feathers, metal, and Arduino-controlled motors, and motion sensors.

Melody Bot

Design by Shad Gross

Melody Bot is a device that explores the implications of algorithmic living, that is, using quantified metrics to measure and guide decisions in everyday life. Made with polyester resin, a web camera, and Java, the Melody Bot records and distorts video of computer use and transform them into fun and kinetic motion of music videos. These videos defamiliarize the act of sitting in front of a computer for lengthy sessions in a playful way.

Pill Box

Design by Youngsuk Lee

The Pill Box provides a means for disguising addictions while simultaneously exposing the destructive nature of those habits. The device works to camouflage the transportation of addictive substances in everyday, wearable objects. To retrieve the substances, decorative aspects of the Pill Box must be ruined, exposing the nature of the habits facilitated by the device. The version of the Pill Box seen here is made with plastic gears, metal hardware, beads, clay, silver chains, and wire.

Cigarette Holder

Design by Youngsuk Lee

This Suicidal Object is a cigarette holder—with a twist. As the user removes cigarettes from it, a fountain is activated that sprays water at the sculptural petals or wings that surround the holder. But these petals or wings are constructed from sugar, and the spray of the water causes them to melt, like neurons dying from a stroke caused by cigarette use. Materials include sugar, ceramic, wire, light sensors, water pumps and an Arduino.

Pee Timer

Design by Austin Toombs and Shad Gross

The Pee Timer presents an exaggerated, dystopic future workplace where the only legitimate breaks from work are those used to urinate. Made with an Intel® RealSenseTM 3D Camera, an Arduino, a water pump, a Power Switch Tail II, two vases, and some colored water, this device detects when the user is away from their workspace and works to shame through public tweets about their use of time and by “peeing” into a clear vase on their desks, which the user must clean up when they return or risk ruining their work area.

COGNOSCENTI

Design by Gabriele Ferri, Jason Fu, Shad Gross, Zan Morris, Nancy Smith, and Austin Toombs

COGNOSCENTI is a pervasive urban game used as a design fiction to think through the future of knowledge-sharing, particularly in the context of public libraries, whose traditional purposes have undergone upheaval with the rise of the Internet and other digital technologies. Set in public libraries, COGNOSCENTI casts 4-6 players and one narrator in the role of observers from another reality, in which knowledge-sharing practices have been radically altered after centuries of relying on neural implants. During the game, players observe how library patrons share information, and they interact with an “artificial intelligence robot” from their world, who guides them as they compare practices between the worlds, helping them document and curate their concepts about future knowledge sharing practices, designs, and public spaces.

The robot is composed of a shell made from fiberglass, acrylic, and insulating foam; and controlled using a Raspberry Pi, a Pi TFT screen, a microphone, and a portable power source.

Make It (Critical)

Design by Michael Stallings

The Make It (Critical) card deck is a tool that helps designers consider new ways of ideation by introducing them to speculative and critical designs. The cards challenge designers to break out of their comfort zone and to imagine and critically examine the many different ways things could be.

Gioco

Design by Gabriele Ferri

GIOCO, the Italian word for “play”, is a creative aid to facilitate design thinking through playful interaction. GIOCO helps HCI designers to foreground issues particularly related to embodiment, perception, emotions and gestures. It can be used in various design domains, but it is particularly geared towards the design of wearable, social technologies. In contrast to other card-based methods – e.g. the IDEO or PLEX cards – it features more structured game mechanics, inspired by tabletop gaming, that encourage the generation, review and iteration of design concepts.

GIOCO is best used by four players. A whole session is composed by three parts – “Function”, “Aesthetics and Experience” and “Pitch” – although each one can be removed or repeated if the designers wish to concentrate on a specific aspect.