rebecca's WIP

For the IDEO CoLab Hackathon, our group’s brief was called “Revealed Realities.” The main question that our challenge posed was: in what ways can we reveal invisible information in our environments (home, office, cities, etc.) using Internet of Things and Augmented Reality?

The following prototype was created in four hours with Matthew Young, Windsor Cristobal and Jonathan Melendez-Davidson at IDEO Cambridge in March 2017.

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I’m doing a huge blog update on all my projects, so this is way, way overdue. Back in November (omg), we did a user test of Prototype #1 of the Field Guide to Whale Creek, including both the audio guide as well as the printed field guide itself. We took a generous group of testers up to Whale Creek on a Sunday morning, back when it was warm out, and learned a ton about what worked, what didn’t and what we need to change.

Some documentation below (and a preview of how the pamphlet is shaping up above!)

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For the ITP halloween party, Shir and I volunteered to make a halloween-themed GIF photobooth. I repurposed some code I had written for another project to make an easy and fun screen-based solution. Aside from a couple of annoying technical things — like noise from the camera because of the lighting — it was super successful. We bought a bunch of masks and decoration to make it extra-themey for people. Code is here on Github and a preview of some GIFs are below.

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The Field Guide website is making progress…thanks to lots of inspiration from hazard signage and nautical iconography. This process has also made me a complete convert to Sketch, which makes the development workflow so much easier whether I’m working with a hired developer or prototyping my own designs before I implement them.

Next step is to try using Principle or Marvel to do UI animations.

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Mnemograph is a participatory installation that connects two people through the language of their memories.

Sitting at a one-person writing desk, a participant is invited to anonymously contribute a personal memory in the form of a handwritten note.  They insert their memory into a slot in the desk, and, through a process of automation, receive a print of someone else’s similar memory. Through this experience of anonymous exchange, Mnemograph creates brief moments of connection between untold stories, providing an uncanny glimpse into the private moments of another person. Its material — language — points to both the specificity and the sameness of the lives we live, and to our unique tendency as human beings to make meaning by connecting the dots.

Combining analog interactions and digital automation (in which the technology itself is obscured from view), Mnemograph poses questions about the relationship between technology and memory. What possibilities open up when we think about memory as an active process of creation rather than something fixed or static? How can a device illuminate the ways in which remembering is a generative act?

Media: Printer, document scanner, custom software, custom-built plywood desk, acrylic, paper, pens

More photos and documentation coming soon!

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My response to Assignment 3 (extensions and customizations) is a series of proposed provocations that explore the following question: where is the line between connection and codependence?

These ideas emerged from my own thinking and crystallized in a conversation I had with Kyle. I’m interested in this question about social boundaries from two different angles / places in my intellectual and personal life. On the one hand, a lot of my work this semester (particularly in my thesis) has revolved around this idea of creating private spaces in public.

In that process, I’ve been thinking about intimate spaces like prayer shrines, phone booths, bathroom stalls, ATM machines — objects and environments and structures in public life where we are allowed moments of privacy. But looking more closely at these structures (literally and metaphorically), I’ve realized that while we may seek privacy in the haven of a bathroom stall, we are quite literally only separated by a thin wall from the person next to us.

This idea is also inspired by my relationship with my sister, who is not only my blood relative but also my best friend and roommate. Not only do we share a tremendous amount of intimacy, closeness and history, but we also coexist socially with one another and have overlap between our friends and social groups.

We have a mutual recognition of the ways in which our closeness borders on codependence, and have worked throughout our lives to figure out the ways in which we share and are similar, and the ways in which we are different. (I also found a statistic that siblings are made up of 99.5% of the same genetic material).

Below are three mini proposed projects that revolve around ‘hacking’ my relationship with my sister, automating our intimacy / communication, and pushing the boundaries between connection and codependence.

Provocation 1: Domesticity for Two

The first provocation in this series has to do with the fact that my sister and I are roommates, so we inhabit the same domestic space as one another every day (mostly). We have separate bedrooms with doors that close but there are also many other ways we share and express intimacy with each other within that space: sharing food, sometimes sleeping in bed, borrowing clothes, etc. On the flip side, there are, of course, unspoken boundaries around things we do not do together or in the same space — go to the bathroom, have sex, get dressed, etc.

This idea is a series of domestic objects meant to be shared by two people that ask questions about the line between connection and codependence — where the boundaries between two bodies in a space begins to break down, or at least become fuzzy. I thought about different ways that we could engage in these really private activities not only together, but doing so while having to somehow manage or negotiate the presence of another person. I thought about making something like a shared toilet, but then landed on three things that felt slightly more subtle.

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The biggest challenge for me with my fabrication so far has been figuring out what exactly I want to create — a desk? a booth? a wall? a machine? With this kind of project, and in general, fabrication is so much more than sticking your project in an enclosure last minute; it’s really the part of the project that people see and interact with, and so it carries a huge statement about what the project says and is about. Very stressful.

I went through tons of rounds of sketching, first with my friend (and master fabricator) Luke Stern. We came up with the design for a kiosk-like machine, prototyped the scale in cardboard and started to plan my fabrication.


The next day, I realized the form factor was wrong for the kind of experience I want to create (something more intimate that people spend time with) so I switched to the idea of creating a writing desk with all the hardware embedded.



I’ve met a few times with Ben Light who, as always, has amazing suggestions and guidance both in terms of design and construction. I’m going to be creating the top part of a desk (essentially a box with all of my equipment inside) that I’ll put on pre-fab legs.


Ben suggested I prototype in cardboard which I’ve been doing a ton of over the past few days. It’s really informed my decisions about scale, the placement of things, and been helpful in thinking through a series of challenge with the construction. Here are some highlights from my fabrication prototyping adventures.


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At Nick Hubbard’s suggestion, I went to look at an exhibition at Brooklyn Historical Society about letter writing. It gave me some great ideas about scale, as well as subtle visual (and aural) cues I can use to create the experience I want. I also visited an exhibition on the first floor designed by Potion that had some very satisfying tactile interactions. Pics below.

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