Project Brief

To explore and experiment with a material and translate its properties into a digital experience.

My Role

User Research, Prototyping, Data-Analysis and Visual Design

Team Composition

Vivian Wang(Visual Design, Materials) and Hongru Hou(Data-Analysis)


To create a cultural probe that our participants could keep and regularly use for a week's time needed a human touch in the objects. We included a polaroid camera, a set of 7 envelopes one for each day of the week and a diary where one would note down the results of the activities that were in the envolopes.


After giving the kits to 4 different participants, it was about understanding the engagements of participants with the cultural probe. Asking our users to record their activities durign their alone time, it was insightful to understand our participants during the times of the days which could have been touch to understand with other reserach methods.

Key Aspects of Learning

I learned that cultural probes are a real power tool to extrapolate crutial information about your users. Having designed them in a planned way can give insights into ones life that wouldn't be possible otherwise. I would surely look for opportunities to include cultural probes in my user research activities.

We made out kit out of WholeFoods lunch box, which is a really commonly used object by our participants.
Out kit includes a Polaroid camera, 7 envolopes-one for each day of the week and a diary to note doen progress.
Creating a map of the locations where our participants could stick back the photos they clicked in relation to our college campus
The final page of the diary has a medallion page where you can stick medals after completing each task and by the end of the week you can look at your own image and feel accomplished.
Visual style of the inner pages of the diary.
Synthesis of the data we got back from our participants.
Imagining a picture of a future scenario(2050) with the information we collected from our participants.

Project Impact

The project introduced me to an unconventional way of understanding your user. This method was ideal to conduct remote studies and also look at data without any prejudice. Designing the probe highlights the importance of planning research studies be it interviews, surveys or observations.

  • To narrow down on the participants whom we would give this probe to.
  • To design the probe so that our intended participants is interacting and engaging with ease.
  • Analyzing and making certain assumptions about the information once we received the probes back from the users.
  • Importance of un-biased methods of user research
  • It is one of the few methods where a researcher can remotely run the study and also asynchronously.
  • The data is recorded by the user in multiple mediums which gives a richer set of data to deal with.
  • Analysing the bigger picture to clarify certain assumptions we would have made by considering just one data set.