Designing the Tangible Experience of Interactive Memories

I completed my Masters of Fine Arts in the field of Industrial Design while teaching as a full-time Visiting Professor in the School of Design at RIT. "Designing the Tangible Experience of Interactive Memories" is my thesis project that fulfilled the requirements of the program. It is an exploration into the field of life logging, and in its physical product and interaction design dialogues. You can view the full text and process documentation on RIT's publication archives. The result of the project is a concept device entitled "Moonwalk".

Moonwalk Device

Thesis Statement

The process for memory keeping in the digital age has become easier, immediate, and more efficient thanks to the advent of sophisticated pocket-sized toolsets that can capture everyday experiences. Consumer-level photo and video recording products are introduced regularly and boast more fidelity, faster speeds, and greater control than their predecessors. More often than not, these expanding feature sets do not properly serve all of their users’ needs.

While the technology exists to allow for a nearcomplete record of one’s life to be made through the use of sensors and storage media, problems involve how best to meaningfully learn from and engage with a lifetime of collected content. With the intention of designing a system to streamline the storage and review process of digital memory keeping, I devised a conceptual framework of tangible objects and interactions to centralize memory media and provide a tangible experience for the review of life content.

Focusing on the design of products for “lifelogging,” the recording of everyday experience through digital sensory inputs, I researched human memory, memory making processes, and the Quantified Self movement.

My resulting concept is a proposal for a system of interactions that incorporate physical objects, digital interfaces, wireless communication, and cloud– based storage that is meant to be a tactile, precious, and centralized way to review and engage with one’s memory.

Moonwalk Animation
Device Interactions

Animated Prototype

The concept exchanges some current trends in technology for a more tangible, object based dialogue. The device will use cloud computing and wireless technology. However, it will favor privacy, be non-portable, and will have the properties of an heirloom object. The ability to easily upgrade the object will give it a degree of longevity.

I produced an animated prototype based on wireframed scenarios. This animated prototype demonstrates the process of review with cut scenes of how a user interacts with the device.

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Conclusion

My concept is still very much what I would consider a runway model, and is mostly a recommendation for what the narrative of a future device would look like. Materials and form may take more testing and revision to become an economically feasible and marketable product. I see the memory key concept as providing the greatest opportunity for maintaining a tangible form of content that is not restricted to storage or a format technology, that gives access to digital content, and pairs that access directly to screen media.

Logo Animation

The interaction design still needs fine-tuning in order to present a refined experience that supports my objectives: pulling the most meaning from content, making the outcomes of lifereview more apparent, and providing users ways to choose how they keep and compose their personal narratives.