Interaction Designer with a multidisciplinary background. User Experience and Visual Design are part of my practice along with my work over the decade in Los Angeles as a photographer and artist.
SMC’s IxD program switched to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the stay-at-home order so we broke up into small teams for a project that combined aspects drawn from two of our classes–Product Design and Interaction Design Studio. My team designed a small portable companion intended for retirees, that emits feedback based on user attention/touch interaction. The interaction helps pull users out of the mundane through play, touch, and environment augmentation in order to promote positive and meaningful rituals.
Many elderly people struggle with loneliness and isolation, with nearly one out of three older Americans now living alone. Persistent deficits in emotional nourishment can cause mortality in older men and women.
Companion animals can meet some physical, emotional, behavioral and social needs, but some retirees can’t keep a living pet. Many sources point to the importance of private rituals and routines that involve sleep schedules, sensory experiences, mindfulness and creative distraction.
The ritual companion expresses emotion by changing color, vibrating, swiveling, changing ear positions, making noises and eye expressions. Emotions reinforce the bond between user and bot. Emotions are triggered by AI, sensors and programming. The bot arrives with a basic set of emotions, but reveals special emotions and display animations as it forms a unique personality shaped by owner interactions. Display animations are ambiguous task prompts which the owner can attempt to satisfy, e.g., an animation of the bot companion hopping around might lead an owner to pick up the bot and carry it outside for a walk, which would result in joyful feedback. The experience, while similar to a human-pet relationship, is designed to motivate the user to repeat positive rituals in order to alleviate the effects of isolation.
A two-week Adobe Creative Jam (design sprint) for which we designed a mobile phone app. Our e-commerce solution encourages healthy shopping habits and addresses the shame associated with using government benefits. I was on a three person team with Ami Kubota and Chase Nguyen.
We were challenged to design a mobile phone app that empowers a specific audience to help improve part of the chain of food collection and distribution.
According to Feeding America, one-third of people eligible for public food assistance are not enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Especially for seniors, low participation correlates with an internalized shame saying that they do not want to be “one of those people with the card.” For others, externalized shame means lack of convenient access to healthy options. Online shopping can help overcome the stigma associated with public assistance, but participation in the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot program is largely limited to corporate retailers such as Amazon or Walmart. These large retailers prioritize consumer convenience over nutrition.
We designed a grocery e-commerce app for SNAP recipients, so that they can shop with businesses in their surrounding neighborhood without facing the stigma of using an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card. Delivery and pickup options are in place for busy single mothers and elderly people at risk for COVID-19. The app uses rewards points to incentivize healthy choices and comes with a cart evaluation feature that allows users to compare their purchases against USDA guidelines for a balanced diet. The entire project was remote due to the pandemic. We divided up some of the sections as we built out the prototype;I worked on checkout and nutrition evaluation.
A two-month long design challenge and part of a larger capstone project our class worked on with Activision. We were tasked with developing a concept and pitch video. The focus was to promote player engagement through the creation of social features for the Call of Duty (COD) companion app. The project was a collaborative two-person effort with my teammate Chase Nguyen. We planned the pitch video together and then I used Adobe After Effects to edit the video, for which Chase created many of the visual assets. The Companion App Design Team approved our concept for further development with a larger student team.
Activision’s Call of Duty (COD) is a challenging game for beginners, but learning COD is easier for new players when they do so with friends. In fact, COD is more fun to play with friends regardless of skill level, but finding new ones can be difficult, and compatibility is a major pain point when matching with strangers.
While existing friends may lack Call of Duty (COD) game skills, those with proven compatibility makes for an untapped opportunity. There isn’t a procedure in place for active players to recruit their friends as new COD players, and even though the COD companion app contains tutorials and a guide for new users, it is designed for experienced players. So we needed to repackage the onboarding experience to be shared with new players. Activision’s research pointed out that successful matches with random players are rare enough to be described as like “finding a unicorn”. Not only did our interviews with players reinforce this finding, but I also found a research paper that highlights the value of loyal teammates when playing online games.
We conceptualized a Recruitment Roadmap feature for the Call of Duty companion app and created a pitch video for the Activision team. Our concept provides a prescribed series of steps for active players to follow when recruiting new players from their existing network of friends, with the companion app providing the pathway and toolset. Our pitch highlighted a Welcome Kit and a Weekly Plan.