Mediated deception - Speculative design
<Mediated Deception> imagines a future where people are granted with the possibility to manipulate wireless signals and deceive others on their Hometa: connected home data. A universal slider that can be attached to any connected objects is introduced to distort the data transmitted through the objects. It argues for a space for poetic chaos and a grey area in between truth and deception when ubiquitous computing and smart home objects are massively adapted in the domestic space.
Skill: Design fiction | Storytelling | Movie production | Exhibition design
Duration: 9 weeks
Time: 2015 fall
Model and package design
Exhibition and presentation in Humlab
Design concept walkthrough
TECHNOLOGICAL DIMENSION: future vision on connectivity
Individuals used to live like tiny islands until connectivity brought people together. It offers great convenience to stay in touch with the entire world at the sacrifice of self privacy. This infrastructure is built on and gets support from personal interests, economy and politics, which constitutes a plausible future scenario. What the project argues for is not to bring down the entire eco-system, but offers alternative as shown by the dashlines beside: ways to throw noises in the ocean of data that citizens would secure a space for white lies.
TECHNOLOGICAL DIMENSION: the distortion of wireless signals
Connected objects occupy not only the physical space that we can see. There is another dimension that accommodates the data transmission and exchange underneath: the electro-magnetic field in the air. The project brings public awareness of the invisible space and discusses around the possibility to manipulate to hack it.
AESTHETIC DIMENSION: a universal slider that parasites on connected objects
To visualise the articulation around technology, a universal slider is introduced as an interface. The artefact creates tension in material (bendable silicone v.s. blocky plastic that are widely considered as a default material for electronic devices), colour (bright yellow that pops out from the home scene) and seamful interaction. The metaphor of a slider also addresses the issue that one has the control of the amount of deception to fabricate a believable deceptive story.
SOCIAL DIMENSION: distortion implications of 3 types of data
Three scenarios are illustrated in the storyline, The story imagines a collection of home data: Hometa, which resembles just as any social media profile data nowadays but is collected and generated by the connected objects at home. The curation of fake data is thus even more difficult because one doesn't have control over his profile.
#1 Numeric data (the white lie)
In the narrative the type of data is represented by weight measured by the connected scale. One can manipulate the number itself by scaling.
#2 Image data (the limited truth)
When numbers are translated into pixels in one image, the interpretation changes. The scale controls the resolution, from a glitchy effect to a poor connection notification. In the narrative this implementation is represented by a surveillance camera.
#3 Identity data (the last lie)
All single notions of data contributed to the identity data of the owner of home. When the slider is attached to a human, it affects the person's digital identity in Hometa system. One can even erase all his traces in the cyber space.
The project addressed my vision of where I stand as an interaction designer. I had the chance to not only use my design skills but construct and discuss my point of view as where design and technology lead us to, as well as provoke the public's attention and awareness on future connectivity. The shift away from user-centered design offered a different scope to investigate the situation we are in. It was important to be conscious of the negative space that design might impact on people's life, in order to better design for the positive.
Design process: use design fiction as a vehicle to speculate the future
1. Define the design brief
Based on my personal interest in tension and conflict, I decided to work with the topic of deception to address the issue that technology can mechanically calculate but not able to behave like human to deceive. Even with the programmed randomness, the noise is driven by the owner of technology, not the end user.
The brief defined three areas of deception:
#1 The white lie discusses about the flexibility and possibilities of white lies under the increasingly high-res digital communications
#2 The limited truth aims to provide alternatives to the passively being tracked generation, when tracking kids or the elderly at home becomes almost violent.
#3 The last lie deals with the physical and digital artefact left behind after death.
The overall aesthetics of the project is to be described as “techno-poetic”. The project is not to predict the future and technology but under its lens, the “blind spots” that is already happening nowadays will be magnified and distorted.
2. INSPIRATIONAL RESEARCH + ACADEMIC PAPER
The research phase was carried out in an inspirational manner: looking for raw material to fabricate the fiction and technology that enables it Due to the nature of topic, it is difficult to open up the conversations. I prepared both digital and physical questionnaires so that participants can choose what they feel comfortable with.
3. Ideation with writing
To construct future in an infrastructure level and make sense of the fiction, writing was used as a technique to ideate and communicate.
To communicate and discuss the concept, I made a lo-fi prototype on #the limited truth and handed out to people to talk about my project.
5. Model making
The slider was made in colored silicone. I started from scratch with 3D modelling and milled the moulds. It took me sometime to experiment with the material.