UID was invited to participate in the Microsoft Design
Challenge 2016. The brief and general goals for the challenge
alligned well with this course's learning objectives.
Achieving Symbiosis and the Conversational User
Design a product, service or solution that demonstrates the
value and differentiation of the CUI. Your creation should
demonstrate the best qualities of a symbiotic human-computer
experience which features an interface designed to interpret human
language and intent. Of course, language takes many forms - from
speech, to text, to gesture, body language, and even thought. Your
creation should clearly demonstrate foundational elements the CUI
calls upon in order to delight people. It should meet a clear need
and be extensible to wider applications. It may be near-term
practical or blue sky, but the idea must be innovative, technically
feasible, and have a realistic chance of adoption if instantiated.
Of course, to deliver an optimal experience, much is implied - from
data and identity permissions to cross-app agent and/or bot
cooperation and coordination (first and third party); your design
should minimally show awareness of these barriers or explore
solutions to them.
Symbiosis - Living with Intelligent
At UID we took this brief as an opportunity to emphasize
interaction design as defining the relationship between people and
intelligent systems and the role of such systems in our lives.
Complexity of real world contexts and people centered approach was
initiated by connecting this course to parts of the work done in
the preceding course on Communication Design for Co-creation, in
which students engaged and immersed in real life contexts by means
of ethnographic fieldwork.
16 students participated in 4 groups.
The resulting projects (summarised below):
*Nume - personalised nutrition
Koala - a conversational bus-service assistant
Luna - weaving bedtime stories
Epa - sustainable living assistant
*this project was selected to represent UID and the course
at the 2016 Microsoft Research Design Expo.
Tutors from Microsoft
Instructor from UID
Nume - personalised nutrition
by Andre Kennedy, Joanna Pruchnicka, Yuanrui Li
and Lene Rydningen
Food. It's essential to our wellbeing and way of life. However,
our society has become disconnected in regards to how it affects us
both physically and psychologically. But why is this, and how can
we address it?
Our research demonstrated to us that there was a major gap in
the communication of how the food we eat actually affects us. One
banana for example contains B6 and a good source of manganese,
vitamin C and so on. But what does this actually mean? Further the
feedback of how this food will influence us is very delayed. These
factors have been a major barrier for people making informed
decisions about their diet. When approaching this we wanted to
examine the following key questions: how can we empower people to
understanding how their food affects things like sleep, energy and
fitness. How can we teach people to change their cooking rituals
according to what they like and need?
Nume is our solution to the issues addressed above. Nume is
dynamic. She learns about the users; their eating habits, daily
routine and so forth. Further she is informed. Using a transdermic
patch she is able to see the nutritional blood values of each user.
Armed with this knowledge she is able achieve a number of things.
Firstly she can interpret what nutrients we are lacking and
indicate how this may be affecting us. Secondly she is able to
suggest meals based on what out body needs and our personal taste
preferences. Thirdly she is able to provide real time feedback in
laymen terms as to whether our new eating habits are improving the
nutritional values identified as being low. Finally she is able to
give goals to help motivate and encourage users to continue
following these new eating habits. In combining these things she is
able to create a feedback loop, where by she can educate users as
to what their body needs and why it needs it. She is then able to
motivate and push them through feedback and goals as a means to
encourage them to change. In doing she creates a continuous
learning cycle whereby users are finally able to understand what
nutrition means to them.
Media: presentation video
Koala - a conversational
by Melissa Hellmund, Christop Zobl, Shigeo Katsura-Gordon,
Koala is a conversational service
assistant for the public transportation system of Umeå.
The project demonstrates the value and differentiation of CUIs
(conversation user interface) within a real and familiar context,
highlighting how language can and should be used in combination
with additional sensory information, to make such interfaces usable
and approachable. By taking the concept into
a public service, Koala challenges the norm of simply
applying a CUI as an input method for the
common personal assistant bot on your phone, and helps to
re-interpret the symbiotic relationship we have with technology.
During the ethnographic research stage of this project, a number of
social and cultural norms were observed, which are
challenged with the help of Koala and the set of design
principles it is based on.
To summarise, Koala creates a sense
of presence through strategic use of lights responding to breach
of personal space of the machine, as well as indicating when
and who is to speak, defined as turn-taking. The language and
tone Koala uses makes it clear that there is no human
processing in the background, as this changes the way users
interact. And finally, through building a conversation map and
developing responses, Koala is able to gracefully divert from the
its system's limits and guide conversation resulting in smooth
and efficient interactions.
Luna - weaving bedtime stories
by Akansha Aggarwal, Eduardo Ferreira, Hector Mejia, Ben
Telling bedtime stories to children has shown
significantly higher brain development among them. Listening to
bedtime stories not only leads to mental growth, but also
inculcates moral, cultural values and enhances imagination among
kids. Through our ethnographic research, we investigated into the
current lifestyle of the parents; We found out that the culture of
telling bedtime stories to kids is fading. Further, Some parents
are good at telling stories, some of them are dreaded by the idea
of it and some fail to keep the daily routine of narrating stories
Luna is a system, which assists parents while telling
stories. It consists of two elements: wearable token and the
bedside device. The wearable token is the part of kids' daily life.
The small token hears and understands the kid's surroundings by
semantic listening. It doesn't act as a sneaky spy, but more as a
friend of the kid. It process filters the conversations and selects
the highlights in kid's daily activities. The second element of the
system, bedside device gets activated when the token is embedded in
The child's day is processed and contextual stories are
created in the system's story bank. Luna responds to voice commands
and request of the kid and the parent. Both kids and the parents
could pick and choose the story created by Luna.
In various situations, the system adapts to the scenario. In
certain situation, it dominates the situation where it narrates the
story. It creates dramatic pitch to engage and make story listening
process interesting for the family. In assistance mode, Parent
leads the scenario, where the system gives cues to the parent
making storytelling process effortless for parents. It creates
environmental sounds to make stories more fun and produces low
fidelity visuals to give a gentle and a mellow end to the kid's
Luna is an attempt to formulate the conversational user
interface for the kids. The system requires training and grows with
the kid by learning his or her daily life. It stores and narrates
stories that are tailored to kid's everyday life. It's a framework
where telling a story is convenient and less painstaking for the
parent. Luna is an effort to strengthen the bond between the parent
and the kids in today's busy life.
Media: presentation video
Epa - sustainable living assistant
by Yi-Ting Chien, Siddharth Hirwani, Piotr Kuklo, Yue
Epa is a conversational bot that
lives in the future smart home. It is a bot that would help
change your consumption habits to live a sustainable
lifestyle. Epa is ubiquitous in your home and monitors your
consumption to create a baseline to start from and then using tasks
and challenges it helps you change your behaviour towards
consumption of resources like water and electricity and also helps
you sort waste correctly. It is like a companion keeping you
motivated through the the challenges, awarding you when you perform
well and positively encouraging you even when you don't.
Short term and long term benefits ensure you stay motivated through
the challenges and keep you going.
The personality of the bot is
related to the personality of each user. The bot expresses
itself not just in a conversational manner but also graphically,
creating a physical presence. It immerses itself into user's
daily activities and home, understanding the appropriate time to
appear and have a conversation rather that interrupt the user and
his activities. Since the user may not always want to converse, Epa
communicates in different ways like for example using music as
guidance for the amount of water consumed while showering,
switching from the users favourite songs to disliked
Symbiosis comes from the partnership
to help the user to change consumption habits with a playful
experience. With the help of a conversational user interface
(CUI) it helps raise awareness for the environment. If this
can encourage each person to turn off the water tap or the switch
off the lights or recycle, together as a community we can be more