Technology and the Traumatic

  1. The question I would like to study is: how can technology help those who have gone through traumatic events?
  2. I would like to utilize speculative design, and plan to create a physical object or booklet.
  3. I plan to spend the first week researching the affects of (mainly psychological) traumatic events on people, both mental and physical. I will then spend the second week coming up with a design, and possibly a prototype of this design.
  4. I plan to document my work my work by keeping a document with all of my research and interview results. I also plan to keep a sketchbook with my design ideas, and I will also keep any prototypes I may come up with, as well as take pictures of my design process.

Cultural Probes


My cultural probes consisted of:

  • a list of various words which the user was to pick four of the word to describe their childhood, and connect them with various lines that they found appropriate
  • a few small containers of Play-Doh that the user was to try and recreate their favorite childhood toy
  • a collection of various gray and blue paint swatches that the user was to pick the one that most resembled the sky where they lived in the summer, and draw a memory on the swatch.
  • The user was also allowed to write down any description for anything they felt necessary


The responses I received were:

  • 20171025_101257
  • The words chosen are “friends” “adventure” “exciting” and “happy”. The lines connecting them are all different, and they also have arrowheads suggesting an order between them.


  • The Play-Doh was molded into what I see as a skateboard


  • 20171025_101307
  • 20171025_101302
  • The last response was the swatch chosen with the colors “Air Blue” “Drip” and “Blue Echo”. This was one of the more colorful swatches available. The above drawing was created, accompanied by the description in the second picture.

Design Sketch

My design sketch consists of a skateboard with Bluetooth capabilities, and a pair of augmented reality glasses. These glasses will connect with the skateboard via Bluetooth, and display your chosen city (preferably your childhood city) in the background while you skate around. The connection would allow the glasses to know how fast you are travelling, as well as what tricks you perform along your way.



The first response was pretty much what I expected, as there are only so many words to describe childhood, but the lines were interesting. I did not mention anything about arrows or order, so that was neat. The other two responses were more unexpected. I was expecting more of an indoor toy from the Play-Doh probe. I believe this is because I personally spent a lot of time inside playing with Legos and video games when I was a kid. From the paint swatch probe, I was expecting a memory that involved the sky in some way, such as flying a kite or something along those lines. I also expected them to pick just one color from the swatch, which I see now that isn’t what I specified in the description.

I believe that the third probe, the paint swatches, was the best at revealing something about the person who completed my kit. It made them think back and decide where they consider themselves from, and think about how they viewed the sky when they were younger. This probe also allowed them to display their thinking in a way that they may not be able to express through words. In addition, they were able to choose any memory that they wanted to display on the swatch, which didn’t necessarily have to be connected to the color on the swatch.

Perception Studies

Here is my walking algorithm:


My intention with this algorithm was to provide multiple options for the user to travel. By having the user roll the dice every time they reach a crossroad, it may force them to go in new directions that they may have not before. Also, having the middle range of numbers (the ones that are more likely to be rolled) be the “turn” operations, I thought it may make the user take more turns through a certain space and prevent them from getting stuck.

During my walk, I was told to “turn right if I saw someone wearing red”, and “turn left if I saw someone wearing blue”. Once I ended up upstairs, I put in my headphones, so I could listen to some music as I meandered through classes. And I noticed that people looked at me in weird ways, but not one person stopped to ask me what I was doing. I think that by following this set of instructions, it allowed me to notice how people were curious as to what I was doing, but seemed not to want to bother me in order to ask and find out.

Below is my design sketch. It is a pair of headphones with a reversible band on top. This band allows the user to display to others whether or not they would be open to being social while they have their headphones on. Headphones have become a universal symbol of “leave me alone,I have somewhere to be”, but sometimes it’s nice to let other people know that it’s okay to talk to you.

These headphones amplify the notion of always “needing somewhere to be and something to do”. Instead, people should be open to being social and enjoying music at the same time.

The “script” that describes how people would use this technology is that it forces the user to think about their day and decide whether or not they would like to be social on their next trip. The headphones will only fit on one way, so the user MUST decide before wearing them.

The Future of Hiking

My catalog is not actually a catalog, it’s a map of the surrounding hikes around Boulder, and the reverse side has a list of the most popular beginner, intermediate, and advanced hikes in the area surrounding Boulder. When thinking about the future “Boulder Hiking Guide”, I started with different future gadgets that may help people perform various hiking tasks (navigation, checking in, actual hiking).


My modified hiking guide has three technologies of note: an exoskeleton to help out of shape and elderly people get outside, QR scanning codes at the tops of trails that allow hikers to check in on Facebook as they complete the hike, and a holographic mapping application to help with navigation and orienteering.


I took a fairly optimistic and Utopian view for this activity, in order to think of a more positive world where people would be getting outside a lot more and experiencing the beauty of the world around them. Some of the comments that I received helped to get me thinking deeper about this possible world.

Issues for the future that came up were mainly related to the safety and accessibility in this future hiking world. The QR codes on the rocks can not only act as a social connection, but also a way to let other people to know if you have made it to the top of the trail and that you are safe. As far as the exoskeleton goes, I initially thought of it as helping backpackers be able to carry heavier or bulkier gear on their adventures, but I received a comment talking about the application of it to allow those who are out of shape, elderly, or otherwise may not be able to go hiking, to participate in the outdoor activity.

If I had more time with this exercise, I would try to display this design fiction as moving more toward the “Internet of Things” mentality, like maybe the trail markers/ rocks along the trail would tweet your progress as you move along your route. I would also add a pair of augmented reality sunglasses, which would help guide you along the trail, alert you when there may be some wildlife nearby, or let you know when would be a good time to take a break. I would want this world to be one where everyone can safely and efficiently enjoy nature to the fullest.

Subversion Exercise

For this exercise, I compiled a small list of technologies, applications, and features that track an aspect of your life:

  • Fit Bit/ Fitness Tracker – Heart monitor, gps, step counter, etc.
  • Amazon – Tracks purchasing/ viewing history
  • Steam – Types of games you buy/ play most
  • Ad Monitoring – Suggested ads on Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter
  • Diet Tracker – Requires conscious user input, but still tracks behavior
  • Smart Home/ Security Services – Monitors residents for security

My partner and I selected Snapchat’s “friend map” feature as our technology/feature to subvert. Our first approach to this issue was to randomize the data that would be sent to the phone’s location services. A bot would be created to piggyback on a VPN and send random locations to your phone, so that it would appear as though you are moving across the globe at lightning speed. For example, one minute, your phone would believe/display that you are in Brazil, and the next, you would be in Tanzania or Japan. This way, no one would know where you actually are.


Our second approach to subvert this technology, was to add a hardware modification to your phone. By adding or removing this antenna to your phone, you would be able to enable or disable location services for your phone, respectively.

I believe that our second design sketch does a better job of creating a space for contestation because it forces the user to make a conscious decision as to whether they want to share their location or not. This design allows for a debate between those who are more paranoid about who/what is tracking them, and those who believe that this tracking is helping to improve their technological experience. I think that this hardware modification would steer the debate more toward online privacy and security, as opposed to the first design. With the first “randomization” technique, the conversation may end up moving toward patters that may emerge among the bot’s “behavior” and travel algorithms.

Our designs help in bringing to light the pervasiveness of location monitoring/ surveillance, even in just a general sense. However, I believe that there needs to be more political conversations about online¬†privacy and cyber¬†surveillance. This seems to be a highly controversial topic, as some people are very paranoid when it comes to ISP’s selling certain online activity history of their customers to ad corporations, so they can tailor their ads to what they think you need. But at some point, it becomes too invasive, like when “Target knows that you’re pregnant before you do”.

Inverting Metaphors

The article that I chose for this exercise is called “Get Ready For Skyscrapers Made of Wood. (Yes, Wood). A link to the article can be found here.

The original goal was to create architectural marvels that added a new element of beauty to existing skylines that are mostly dominated by steel and glass buildings. These new skyscrapers would be constructed out of timber, which is very light, and also surprisingly strong. Utilizing this new wooden construction is also helpful to the environment. Wood acts like a “lock-box” and helps to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. This article also talks about transparency in relation to architecture, meaning exposed structural elements, and a large use of transparent materials (i.e. glass).

The inverted goal would then be creating a building that is not only displeasing to the eye, but also harmful to the environment, and almost completely opaque to the outside viewer. In order to achieve this goal, my partner and I created a new building out of construction paper. The entire building is modeled after the “brutalist” movement in architecture, which many consider to be clunky and ugly. After that, we added a large amount of smoke that is billowing out from the top of the cone shape. This cone is actually the building’s power supplier, and it runs on coal. Finally, to address the transparency issue, we decided that most of the building will be made out of one-way glass, so that the employees that work in the building can see out, but no one can see in. Meet the new CIA headquarters:

This exercise helped to reveal some hidden biases that we may have in modern design. For example, most new buildings are now just expected to have a minimal impact on the environment. Also, by doing this activity, I found a type of architecture that only a very small handful of people would like. This made me think about what people consider to be “ugly” buildings, and how that could be different to each person.