Assignment Week 9

Problem: It can be dangerous for pedestrians when sharing footpaths with cyclists and personal mobility device users.


Solution: Augmented Reality Pavements

Augmented reality in the future may provide information on-the-go but this could at times be distracting and lead to accidents. This project seeks to conceptualize a more clutter free experience with a focus on features to keep pedestrians safe when walking along the pavement and crossing the road.

Problem: People are resorting to choping seats with tissue packets and personal belongings to avoid buying food and ending up without a table to eat at.


Solution: Seat Choping System

This system involves using the tap of the phone on a touch point on the table to reserve it and it activates a phone app which can be used to order food. When food is ready the person is notified and food is brought to table.

Problem: Commuters on public transport such as bus/MRT have access to information that is limited to a small display on the top of the windows.


Solution: Use windows of bus and MRT to display transport information



Assignment Week 7

Part 1: Write a response to the exhibition “Future World”.  Keep in mind the following questions – What is experience design and what are the possibilities of responsive environments? How might this change the way we think about the world around us and the ways that we communicate with each other?

The exhibition “Future World” may appear to be a high tech playground designed for kids but beneath the playful exteriors is an experimental laboratory for cutting edge digital technology that gives one a glimpse into a future where once inanimate objects and spaces come to life as smart interfaces that can respond to people and the environment. Although the exhibition felt childish to me, I really love how the exhibition combines art and technology in a way that provides fun and pleasure but yet represents a myriad of possibilities for real world applications. I was reminded that it is the curiosity and imagination of children that can spark new innovations.

The first narrative Nature starts with 3 exhibits that use technology to create an artificial experience that mimics the natural experience of flora and fauna. This technology suggests a future where nature can be experienced in the comfort of indoors or where environments can adjust themselves to suit people’s needs under changing conditions. There is the artwork 100 Years Sea Animation Diorama that is an artistic representation of data that warns of the long term environmental effects of climate change which encourages contemplation of the issue. But to me the room had a zen like feeling to it that made me feel relaxed which speaks to a possibility of using digital technology in experience design to provide people a relief from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Although it could be a tool for social change.

Next, it was the Town narrative. Connecting Train Blocks which allows the audience to develop their own transportation infrastructure is like playing cars but with digital interactivity. This to me is a vision for a future where transportation systems are managed using interactive interfaces. The exhibit A Table Where Little People Live is very endearing and in itself is great activity for having fun. But, it also similar to train blocks has the potential to make objects in the real world that are inanimate have implication on a virtual digital world. For sketch town and graffiti nature, on the surface are ways to enjoy artwork without permanently damaging walls, but there are again possible useful applications. For sketch town, it could be a quick way to test ideas when doing urban planning for cities, while graffiti nature which has graphics that respond to people could be used to make smart environments. The Media Block Chairs are like cube batteries that can be joined almost like legos, but the key is that the blocks can communicate and respond to one another. This relates to making dumb objects smart and can be used in cities to collect data which enables objects to transform according to conditions. For example, driverless cars can communicate with objects and other cars to prevent collisions.

Then we come to Parks. This part begins with the virtual waterfall which looks very realistic which speaks to the future where the lines between reality and virtual reality is blurred. the sketch aquarium is much the same as sketch town. The Story of the Time When Gods were Everywhere is like the flower exhibit where ones touch has an impact on a digital surface. But here’s where it gets really fun and interesting, with the Light Ball Orchestra and hopscotch. The Light Ball Orchestra is similar to the media block chairs where objects respond to each other but in this case there is movement and sound involved. The hopscotch is like an interactive touch screen on the floor which responds to the touch of the feet instead of hands which is similar to the flower exhibit.

Finally, if there’s only one thing to see it would be the Crystal Universe of the Space narrative because it is so stunning and almost creates an out of body experience. It is like being in another dimensions something like the Matrix. This represents a future where a 3d virtual world can be created around us without wearing a device over our eyes and can be interacted with.

In conclusion, it was exciting to see technology and art combined in such an amazing way but I got to admit I was expecting more. There were many exhibits that were too similar and I felt the creators could have pushed the boundaries further especially with respect to projections. At the end of the day though still a great exhibition I would recommend.

P.S. I thought it was interesting that the guide pointed out that the Eastern aesthetic suits the creation of immersive 3d spaces more than the Western aesthetic.

Part 2: Start to work on final project proposals – prepare three ideas for a screen-based experience that you’d like to create (it can be speculative). Prepare a slide show to illustrate your ideas. The ideas can be based on any of the field trips done so far or can be something completely new.

Part 3: Find 3 examples of a product/project that you think are good examples of thoughtfully designed user experience. Be prepared to support your choices.

New MRT trains may have tip-up seats, onboard Wi-Fi


Part 4, Reading: Chapter 1 of Designing for the Digital Age by Goodwin

This book may be about designing mainly digital products, but it applies in many ways to the design process in all its forms from graphic design, to interior design, to experience design, to product design and urban design. For me this is a recap of the design process I am accustomed to in my study of product design albeit in a slightly different way using different terms. The design process laid out in this book suggests that an effective design method supports designers in visualising concrete solutions to human problems and that goal directed design helps skilled designers ensure thoroughness, timely execution and consistently high quality of output. The part that strikes me most though is the emphasis on understanding the users needs and about the relationship between designer and engineer.

Week 6 Assignment Reading Response

Reading: CH 1 from Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, Thoughtful Interaction Design

This reading about the design process has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of design. Being a design student, we are often sheltered from many real-world problems and we have a rosier view of the design industry than it really is. The reading presents the challenges of designers in the industry without any sugar coating but also acknowledges the important and rewarding nature of design work.

Firstly, information technology is a vital part of our lives as we are living in the digital age where so much of we do is in through our smartphones or computers which have some sort of digital interface. These digital interfaces such as websites and applications have to be designed by someone who more often than not would be the designer. Therefore, the designer’s work has a big impact on society.

Digital artifacts as the writer refers to as the outcome of interaction design while according to the writer is designed by the designer, generally can have properties which are unintentional due to side effects, mistakes or lack of knowledge. I think that given as stated that the complexity of design prevents a fully rational approach and there is no perfect design process with a perfect outcome, it is perfectly acceptable that there will be unintended design characteristics which may even be a positive side effect. Having said, it is not an excuse for thoughtless design and I can understand the frustration of users when the design does not meet expectations.

This moves us to the point about being a thoughtful designer. To be thoughtful, a designer needs to understand design process, design ability, the designed product and it’s larger context. Being thoughtful is caring about one’s design ability, the design one produces and how the world will be changed by one’s design idea or decision. I guess it is not so much that a designer does not care about the job as it is a way of designing in which a designer needs to critically examine his/her role as a designer, the purpose, outcomes and benefits of different ways of designing and using different methods, tools, guidelines and theories. Design is knowledge construction; knowledge for designers, critics, client and users to share, debate, challenge, extend, reject and use.

Good design is hard to define and the author suggests that a designer should continuously define and redefine the definition of good design. However, as stated good design can be defined by a number of considerations. The core concepts outlined in the reading reminds me about the nature of design which is trans-disciplinary, future forward and contextual. Design theory states that design work is given form and structure by the designers own thoughts, consideration and actions, and it’s character is defined by people’s habits, traditions and practice. The design process is unique in that it defines terms such as problems and solutions in a way less dogmatic and more fluid. It involves the designer, the resources available and the situation. It is risky and has many aspects to consider.

Being a designer is not easy because of the number of things he/she has to juggle. A designer has to be creative to see new perspectives and yet handle contradictions, dilemmas and conflict. A designer needs the ability to cooperate understand people’s views and yet argue for ideas/proposals. Then there is the issue of personal engagement and expression, which can be tricky when trying to please a client. Design is practical and concrete, is profound and existential, is a diverse and complex activity, and requires a will and desire to change in the face of resistance. However, design is about shaping the world we live in by creating opportunities and restrictions that make up the world. Therefore, it is an important job which is also very rewarding.

As for the practicalities of design, there will always be limiting factors which may not even be design related, however, just as the writer suggest should not be an excuse for a bad design. I agree with this and in fact I see it as a positive because i believe that necessity is the mother of invention.

Finally, the last part on design and society reminded me that being a designer is much more than pleasing a client, it is also a responsibility to society.

Q1 If there is no right and wrong solution in design and no perfect design process with a perfect outcome, how does designer decide on the final outcome?

Q2  How should a designer balance between making a client happy and expressing his/her own ideas?


Assignment Week 6 Digital Diary

Day 1

9AM – Checked email and messages

10AM – Checked email and messages

Opened Pokemon Go App

11AM – Checked email and messages

Viewed social media

12PM – Checked email and messages

Made a phone call

1PM – Checked email and messages

2PM – Checked email and messages

3PM –

4PM –

5PM – Checked email and messages

6PM – Checked email and messages

7PM – Checked email and messages

8PM – Checked phone for any notifications, messages and email. Plug my phone to charge for the night.

I observed that people generally used their mobile devices for checking email, messaging, checking social media, listening to music, watching videos and playing games such as Pokemon Go. This can be observed everywhere at work, in public places and on public transport. The reason for this is that we have become dependent on our smartphones that constantly feed us with notifications.

Day 2

Create a diary documenting and describing the difference in your behavior patterns. How did you do the things you would normally do with your phone? What other alternative behaviors did you develop? What else did you notice about the difference in behavior?

Going one day without using any electronic devices was extremely problematic but it was also liberating. The problem obviously was that school requires these devices, so I was not able to do work and was not updated about my classes and I could not coordinate with my group members for group work. I was not updated on the latest news and I was also very bored and restless, not knowing how to spend my time. So I ended up using my time to read books, go out, relax and bond with family. I was anxious and frustrated to be without any means to do any work or know what was going on. But, after awhile I became relaxed because I no longer had to bother about anything. I was more focused on what I was doing and I had peace of mind.


Week 5 Assignment

There is no disputing the fact that given the choice of only three items to carry, we would naturally go for the wallet, keys and smartphone. As suggested, it is who we are as humans and shows what matters most to us. But often times we carry much more than that we need just in case. This in the local context would be called, ‘kiasu’ and ’kiasi’. It is the fear of losing out or missing out and the fear of death…so basically to avoid a situation where one is unprepared or at risk we carry more than we need. This goes back to the point that factors such as security and peace of mind are what determines what we carry with us. At the same time, it reminds me of hoarders who feed their anxiety by keeping things around themselves.

I guess it seems strange that the range of distribution for the locals is larger than say in other countries like China, Spain or Brazil. But, it reflects the situation here in Singapore where theft is low vs other countries where it is high. While there is a tendency to keep things close or hidden to avoid theft, there is also a desire to show off what we have. This makes wonder if it will be a barrier to the concept of super-distribution in future as mentioned towards the end of the chapter, in a world of consumerism and where ownership is still very much a sign of status. With regards to having centres of gravity we usually place things where we can conveniently reach them and a point of reflection where we pause to run a checklist of thing which we need to carry in case we forget something, I think we can all relate to. For example, some people somehow however messy they are seem to know where everything is and for many people before leaving the house they usually check to make sure we brought everything we need to. Still we are human and we forget things but technology has helped in ways such as locating things for us, giving us reminders and the access to data in the palm of our hands.

Digitalisation and the cloud may seem to be the magic bullet to solve our problems of needing to have things within reach and yet secured far away, but in fact while it solves some problems it comes with its own set of problem such as a faulty hard drives, hacked servers or unpaid cloud storage. Personally, I have my data stored on two separate hard drives but I still live in anxiety that my hard drive will fail before I can transfer it to a new hard drive. Recently, many important services such as banking, transportation and communication have gone digital which while supposedly makes thing easier and more efficient it has its own risks. For example, the SGX server was down in June this year due to a disk failure, the MRT trains are experiencing problems due to software glitches and outages of internet and cell phone coverage have been an occasional problems due to system failures.

The traceability of things is an interesting issue because as the writer suggests it changes what it means to own something in that the consequences of losing something is reduced and retrieval is easy. While the writer suggests that traceability may lead to the misuse of tracking technology as a means of buying and selling rights, I see it more as a way in which our fears of losing something can be alleviated. The use of a location based mobile data such as GPS and automated systems such predictive shipping allow us to be less conscious about things and rely on technology to do remembering, planning and even shopping for us. While I understand that there are concerns that people might become desensitised, I think that actually the technology is good, but people need to use it in the right way. I mean it’s just like how social media is useful for connecting with people socially but it is no substitute for face to face meetings. In fact, these technologies allow us to be less distracted from the busyness of life and more focused on the important tasks. The secret of many successful people is that they limit their time spent on making decisions such what they eat or wear by limiting their options, so they have more time for more important things.

Finally, it seems that the way of the future is to own less things and have access to more things in what is termed here as super-distribution. Personally, I am very much attracted to the idea of this because we are like prisoners to the things we own and technology and such a concept is so liberating. But much more than that it allows society to be more efficient, safer and less materialistic. My only issue with this is if society will be ready to accept such a shift away from the entrenched ideas of ownership and consumerism.

Q1 Can we really move to a world where our things are shared rather than owned, with ownership so closely linked to status?

Q2 To what extend can digitalisation remove the burden of needing everything within range with issues such as privacy and the threat of hacking?


Ubiquitous technology is the growing trend towards embedding microprocessors in everyday objects so they can communicate information. The word ubiquitous means “existing everywhere.”

Ubiquitous City Korea


Week 3 Assignment

Part 1: Think of a way in which you could develop an experimental map using images, sounds and stories. Some ideas… What else would we use if we didn’t use maps to find our sense of place? How would you map the sounds you hear every day? How would you map emotions? How would you map the overlooked peoples or places of Singapore?

Part 2:  Read CH 1 Annette Kim, Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City (2015)

Singapore is working on an interactive 3D Virtual Map to be launched in 2017. I believe that the future of maps is virtual in the form of augmented reality or even projections onto actual streets and it will be interactive and in real-time. It will be a map for the people by the people. 

The tension between government efforts to modernise the city and the preservation of culture in the form of sidewalk activities is not a new one especially in South East Asia where sidewalks are part of the cultural appeal. The situation regarding the sidewalks of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City reminds of Singapore. Singapore is good example of finding a balance between cleaning up the streets and allowing the street culture, but whether or not it is good is another question.

A big part of Singapore success in moving from Third World to First World has been the government’s swift actions in housing for example the street vendors in more sanitary hawker centres or relocating a large portion of its population who lived in squatters into public housing. The Singapore government displayed good urban planning and to a large extent still managed to keep hawker food culture alive and maintain some semblance of ‘kampong spirit’.

However, many other aspects of Singapore culture has not been spared by modernisation’s tendency to demolish the old and bring in the new. Many groups in Singapore have been unhappy with plans to demolish some heritage sites such as Bukit Brown cemetery in the name of progress. Also, many wet markets have been converted into cleaned up food centres. With regard to allowing street activities Singapore is very restrictive, one needs to get permit for everything from making a speech at the speaker’s corner at Hong Lim Park, selling food, busking and even camping.

But, back to the point about land use planning and sidewalks. The Thieves Market at Sungei road in Singapore is a flea market, which has been around since the 1930s, will cease to operate a year earlier, in 2016. It is an example of the cultural heritage of vendors and hawkers that occupy the streets and sidewalks but have been lost to development. The tightening of security and alcohol ban in Little India and Clarke quay while removes the sight of drunkards somehow reduces the vibrancy of the culturally rich part of Singapore that it is.

Governments can create places that encourage informal activities but must be careful to maintain heritage and have a culturally relevant design. Singapore has begun to realise this for example the preservation the old civic district through the building of the National Gallery in a way that seamlessly blends old and new, and the listing of botanic gardens as a UNESCO world heritage site. Orchard road closures every second Saturday of the month is a step in the right direction in encouraging street culture.

With regards to the reading, I agree that there is a need to understand the history, culture, economy and social fabric when doing urban planning. A map that takes into account all the stakeholders and looks at the tangible and intangible is useful. Many in the past have made the mistake of designing public space without considering its social implications leading to under-utilised spaces. I think it is possible to regulate informal public space activities in way that preserves the livelihoods of the poor and the street’s cultural heritage but allows for modernisation and economic growth. It is encouraging to see that research is being done in a way that ensures the urban design of HCMC is sensitive to the Vietnamese people’s way of life.


Q1 Can sidewalk culture be kept alive in an age of rapid urbanisation?

Q2 How can governments take into account the fluid nature of the use of public space such as the sidewalks when doing urban planning and creating maps?

Week 2 Assignment Part 2

Reading Response 2 : Jan Chipchase, Hidden In Plain Sight: How to Create Extraordinary Products For Tomorrow’s Customers. (2013)

The point of design research is understand how and why people behave the way they do to create a meaningful design, and what better way than to experience it yourself. To experience is both to put yourself in the customer shoes as well as to observe the way others behave. It is true that the global connectivity granted to us by the internet and social media allows one to easily reach out to many people and access data regarding consumers, but it may not yield deeper information such as how their lifestyles affect their choices. I think that it is probably because social media for example tends to provides hard data such as the number of people who searched for a particular topic which can be superficial. I guess there are online forums, chatrooms and review websites which can give you the opinions of people which is very useful but it is certainly not a substitute for being there.

This rapid cultural calibration which could be a stroll at dawn or rush hour subway ride, a visit to the barbershop, a train station or a global chain restaurant, I agree provides a deep understanding of a culture because being in a local setting allows you to get into character and play the role of a local. The best time to do this research according to the Chipchase is in the morning starting from 4am because it is more consistent and regimented. While I agree that there is much to learn from the morning rush hour, I think that it depends on what the purpose of the design research is and the evening commute or night life could also yield useful results. Riding local helps one gain a better understanding of the mental and physical state of the locals. But apart from riding the train or riding the bus to experience the commute, I think a good way to get the pulse of a particular city or community is to take the local taxi and talk to the cab driver. Long distance travel hubs have a diversity of people which is useful for learning cultural norms and expectations.

The barber shop is a social hub where people meet and chat about their lives and the latest hot topics are discussed. The barber shops in HDB estates in Singapore are a good example. Mcdonalds is a place where cultural differences in terms of food and the demographics. Whenever I visit a Mcdonalds in a foreign country, I always lament about how the local one is “better”. For example there is curry sauce in the local Mcdonalds and is a place where young people study. Signage as the author suggests reveal much about social behaviour and value conflicts. In the Singapore context there are signs everywhere that indicate fines for smoking and littering and even “no durian” signs which reveals the punitive culture and food habits. There is a myriad of idiosyncrasies that are revealed that can provide tremendous inspiration for a design project when we immerse ourselves into the local experience.

Q1. Is it always beneficial to a design project to conduct an immersive design research such as the rapid cultural calibration as mentioned in the reading?

Q2. How much collecting of data is enough to give the designer the insights and inspiration he needs to create an empathic design?

Week 2 Assignment Part 1

In your group, organize your documentation and notes from the observation and analysis of the MRT and create a slide-show presentation that you’ll share in class.  Observe, take field notes, identify where things go wrong and what idiosyncrasies you notice through your observations. What are some unusual things that you notice?  Make sketches, notes and document with photos to carefully analyze the user experience during this field trip. Make observations on how other people move through public space.

What solution would you propose to the “things that go wrong”? Remember, to think about scale in that your proposal might be simple or more complex.  Consider what the challenges might be to implement your proposal.

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Week 1 Assignment Part 4

Reading Response 1: CH 1 Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (1988)

I agree that our world is filled with poorly designed objects that are difficult to figure out how to operate and that good design can make things better. Firstly, the author asks why people put up with the frustrations of everyday objects. I believe that the reason that we put up with it is partly because we accept what the companies tell us is good and we do not question if there is a better way. Even if we feel there is something not quite right, many companies do not bother to find out. The author states that the human mind is exquisitely tailored to make sense of the world which he suggests needs only the slightest hint to know how to use an object but gets thrown off by bad design. However, if the human is so good at figuring things out even if initially a bad design throws one off, I think our minds quickly adapt and we learn “bad habits” so to speak in terms of the design language which perhaps explains our tolerance for bad design as well. Having said that it is true that things have become more confusing. While the human mind does figure things out well, certainly well-designed objects that make things easier is welcomed compared to a poorly designed object that is hard to use. But sometimes as consumers we do not know any better until we are given something better. We can probably give valuable feedback on what works and does not work, but it is only when the designer presents the improved solution that we realise what we have been missing.

The author then goes on to talk about how people are surprised that simple things like doors, switches, faucets and stoves can be frustrating to figure out how to use. Before studying to become a designer I admit I would never have thought doors could be a problem, I guess it is something we tend to take for granted because we probably go through doors all the time and know which way they will open. If even simple things can be confusing, then as the author says it is understandable if a cockpit of a modern airliner is hard to operate. I think that the holy grail of usability is probably making the airplane controls simple enough for anyone to operate like how the car industry was revolutionised by the modern automatic car’s easy to understand controls.

Visibility is important as we are very much visual creatures, so we want to know which function is controlled by which control and see the outcome. The lack of a hold button on the modern telephone system is good example. The issue is that with more functions comes more controls it is not only harder for the designer to fit in all the controls in a product and but also the consumer who needs to figure out what everything does. But people keep buying poorly designed products and designers keep doing things the same way in a vicious cycle.

Affordance is important for the choice of material as its function becomes obvious by its properties. The example of the British rail shelter is quite an interesting example because every attempt to solve the problem seems to create another. Complex things require explanation but simple things do not. There are so many objects in our lives but somehow we manage to cope. The author gives three ways, affordance, constraints and mapping. The scissors is easy to use because the parts are all visible while the digital watch is hard to use because there is not visible mechanism. I myself have found it easier to adjust a mechanical watch compared to a digital one because when rotating the knob the hands of the clock are visually moving in the mechanical watch. Users do not need to know how something works they only need to know the controls and the outcome. The car is usable because all controls are visible and each control has a specific function whose action corresponds to the same results in reality which is mapping. Feedback is also important as it enables the user to know if the action is successful, which is useful for the hold function of the telephone system.

The paradox of technology as the author puts it is very much the problem when it comes to designing usable objects. Functionality comes at the price of complexity. I agree that it does not mean we do not progress but it is hard to balance cost and usability. I think that we are reaching the point where technology is so advanced that it is no longer changing at the rapid rate of the last decade. Therefore this is a great time for designers to make the complex products more usable because technology is more or less the same. But I think that there is a point where the benefits of adding another function no longer outweigh the complexity. Smartphones and computers have managed to put all the tech into a simple small package, so easy to use even young kids can use them. But, there are still problems with having so many functions in one device with companies constantly improving the operating system. Designing well is difficult with so many other factors to consider but I agree that the paradox of technology is not an excuse for bad design and that principles of good design can make the complex manageable.

Q1. How can good design be applied to the increasingly digital world which is less visible?

Q2. To what extend can good design make the complex technology more usable?