Walk Over Me is an interactive touch-sensitive light-up floor designed to support and inspire physical play.
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Eva Maria Veitmaa
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, September – October 2019
The WalkOverMe mobile application (WOM-app) is a remote controller that enables customising how the actual physical floor works, uploading new games to it, using it as a drawing canvas, and creating and viewing high scores.
Read the paperwalk_over_me_mobile_app_final_report
Eva Maria Veitmaa
Menopause. It is a natural process that hits around 50% of the population sooner or later. However, we do not really talk about it. Perimenopausal people stay silent. They suffer alone. They do not share their experiences. They do not prepare themselves, nor the next generation for this slightly uncomfortable time. Despite being a common phenomenon, menopause still remains a taboo.
During STHLM Tech Fest, McKinsey Digital presented us with a challenge on the topic of menopause and the social stigmas around it. We took up the gauntlet and presented a line of timeless jewellery to help people going through perimenopause deal with hot flushes using active cooling technology.
The challenge was presented by McKinsey Digital as follows:
“Today, 850 thousand women in Sweden are going through menopause. Most women start having changes in their period around age 40-45, and other symptoms—from loss of energy to hot flashes to anxiety—may last for a few years to over a decade. The impact on women’s lives is significant: in the UK, for example, 45% of women say their symptoms have negatively impacted their work, 23% feel more socially isolated, and 42% just don’t feel as sexy anymore.
For many women, it can take a while to even realize what they’re experiencing, causing
confusion and stress.
Despite it being a natural process, menopause remains a taboo subject in much of the world. Conversations around the topic may not portray the variety of menopause experiences, including early onset, medically-induced, as a side effect of treatment for other conditions, or for people who identify as male or non-gender binary. And support is limited, whether for managing symptoms, creating menopause-friendly workplaces, accessing reliable information, or having frank discussions with friends, family, and colleagues.
Develop an innovative product, service or campaign that tackles challenges and social stigmas around menopause and supports women before, during, or after. Your solution should tangibly improve the lives of women and is a step-change from what’s been done until now.”
Exploring the problem space
To analyse problems in menopause and potential solutions, we employed the techniques of brain writing and brainstorming in combination with quick and dirty research. First, we did a quick search about menopause
After gaining these insights, we all wrote down our ideas. Then we presented them to each other without any critique. If anyone had additional ideas during the discussion round, they were encouraged to write them down and add them to the discussion afterwards.
Some non-filtered ideas that we had during the brainstorming were:
- Menopos(itive) – changing the language
- Menopause simulator – experience menopause firsthand
- Stories from menopause – an informative book
- Sex toys for menopausal people
- Conversation evenings and menopause meetups
- My Sweet 60 Party
- Letter from the queen congratulating the receiver on reaching the age of wisdom
- Perimenopausal yoga retreats
- Positive quote bracelet, cup, mirror
- Menopause helpline – talk to someone who understands
To get information about our target group and perimenopausal people’s experience in general, we dove into Reddit, more specifically, the r/Menopause section.
We started out by asking kind Redditors to elaborate on some of the positive aspects of (peri)menopause. As it appears, there are not many of those. Although the following lists show more positive aspects than negative ones, most of the replies had a negative undertone.
- No periods (including cramps, planning, PMS, surprise bleeding, period shits, migraines)
- Saving on period products
- No chance of falling pregnant
- Don’t care what others think of me
- Refreshing lack of visibility
- Ability to put my wants and needs first
- No more food binging
- Pretty underwear
- Hair stays clean longer
- Less body hair growth
- Feeling invisible
- Irregular periods
- Hot flushes
- Mood swings
- Hair gets oily faster
- More body hair growth
From this, we gathered that shifting the perspective of perimenopausal people might be harder than we initially thought, and decided to focus on alleviating the symptoms instead. One of the most commonly mentioned symptoms were hot flushes – a sudden change in temperature perception, making the person feel hot and causing sweating. This is what we chose to base our following work on.
Behold! a solution!
Originally, we thought of making the person feel better about themselves during a hot flush with a piece of interactive jewellery that reacts to the change in body temperature and lights up during a hot flush. Our hypothesis was that this twinkling attention-grabbing piece would earn the wearer compliments and trigger conversation on the topic of menopause in general, reducing the social stigma around the topic.
The result of a rapid midnight prototyping can be seen in the following animation.
We feared that people do not want extra addition during this uncomfortable hot flush. Indeed, a follow-up post revealed that while our target group found the jewellery idea pretty, they did not care much for the compliments and found little value in interactive jewellery. Instead, they wanted something that would serve a practical purpose and cool them down during a hot flush.
We played around with the idea of incorporating cooling effects into fashionable jewellery using small ventilators. There are some solutions available, but they look extremely unaesthetic. After some consulting with an external tech-savvy consultant Kasper Thomas de Kruiff, we discovered thermoelectric cooling technology and Peltier elements that are basically tiny silicone-covered metal modules that use electricity to cool down one side of the metal board.
Therefore, we designed a line of cooling jewellery. The cooling elements are strategically placed in locations where blood vessels are close to the skin surface, for example, wrists, neck, or chest. By cooling down the skin in those strategic areas, the feeling of coldness spreads throughout the whole body, soothing and calming down the wearer. A competitor EmbrLabs is already using the same technology, however, their solution lacks the aesthetic element.
Although we let Reddit help us with deciding on the design, we ended up wearing a variety of different styles during the final presentation.
The jewellery line promises a 10-fold margin which is promising for any investor. Due to using the more sustainable stainless steel instead of silver and relatively cheap Peltier elements, the production costs can be kept low. However, we did not initially take into account the overhead production costs and whether button batteries will be enough to power the thermoelectric cooling elements on a desired level. These are the areas that need follow-up research before it can be said with certainty that this business idea is fully feasible. However, when there is a will, there is a way, and surely the power issues can be solved one way or another.
I wish to thank the team with whom we tackled this challenge in the short time of one day, McKinsey Digital for providing us with the challenge, STHLM Tech Fest organisers for creating the hackathon, and r/Menopause for such quick replies and relevant insights to our market research posts.
Eva Maria Veitmaa
STHLM Tech Fest Hackathon, September 2019
FireFlies is an interactive multisensory experience that takes the visitor back to a 19th century tavern. FireFlies triggers the auditory, visual, olfactory, and somatosensory senses for a highly immersive experience by incorporating bright LED-lights, multiple sound effects, vibration backpacks, pushbuttons, and smoke.
The installation is designed for the Boerenkerkhof in Enschede. It revolves around the story of Hendrik Smelt, a local citizen, and his poem written about the city fire of 1862. The goal of the project is to bring alive the stories of the people buried at the cemetery while turning the place into a more attractive public park for both the locals and the tourists.
FireFlies is a homemade time-machine. At the door, the visitors’ attention is grabbed by the speaking portrait of Hendrik Smelt. He invites the guests to put on time-travelling backpacks and go back to the 19th century to attend a poem recital in his favourite tavern. Once inside, the visitors are presented with idle time-machine sounds, dim slightly blinking lights, and a big red button in the middle of the dark room. Pressing the button activates the time machine and with some accompanied vibration, visual and auditory effects, the visitors will be teleported to the cozy Haystack tavern.
Hendrik Smelt will start reciting his poem about the city fire accompanied by some tavern ambience sounds. Nine main buttons are lit up in blue colour on the surrounding walls. By pressing the button, the visitors turn on and off various looping background sound effects to compose a soundtrack for the poem. All these rhythmic background loops are sounds that can be commonly found in a tavern: clanking glasses, pouring beer, sharpening the knife, walking in clogs, snoring, and some musical instruments. When a button is pressed, also the clustered LED lights corresponding to the touched button turn red and start to flicker to simulate fireplace flames and warmth. When pushing the button again, the LEDs turn back to blue and corresponding sound loop stops.
The more buttons and, thus, sound loops are activated, the higher the valence of the poem and the louder and more intense the reciter’s voice gets. Hendrik Smelt is trying hard to be heard over the competing sounds of the tavern.
If all the buttons are activated at the same time, the poetry recital stops, and the cacophony of tavern sounds merge into the soundscape of a roaring fire with church bells, collapsing structures, screams, coughs, and animal noises. Hendrik Smelt ushers the visitors to follow him back to his time.
If the visitors do not activate all buttons at the same time and do not reach the point of the fire, Hendrik Smelt finishes his poem and thanks the audience for joining him. Therefore, the storyline of the FireFlies installation is strongly dependent on the actions of the visitors and may differ between visitors. This is an intentional design for sparking comparative discussions and wish to return again after the experience.
In any case, the user is presented with a recording of the epilogue explaining the city fire of 1862 and the Butterfly Effect – how small actions can have drastic consequences. The time machine returns to its original idle state and the experience can be started again.
FireFlies is designed to be as intuitive as possible, providing multiple affordances for interaction. The installation is created with alternative endings to fit a variety of visitor behaviours. In this way, the experience still provides a response even when no buttons are pressed.
Being a group project, all of us contributed to the process of creating the experience. However, I had some key areas of responsibility.
Physical exploration. Providing the team with various materials and objects, such as vibrator motors, LED and flashlights, cloth, blow driers, during the ideation stage to explore the possibilities of physical interaction.
Text work. Translating the poem by Hendrik Smelt from Dutch to English, writing the prologue and epilogue texts.
Audio design. Finding the sound effect loops for the background composition; cutting, slicing, mixing and matching them together to fit a certain beat; creating the multi-layered soundscape of culmination fire; recruiting a voice actor, recording and editing the poem audio; tweaking the audio to work well with the speakers used in the installation.
Vibration and smoke exploration. Experimenting with Aura haptic feedback backpacks and a smoke machine to find ways of using them in our project, setting them up correctly with regard to settings and intensity.
Logistics and construction. Borrowing (power) tools for setting up the installation, building the roof construction, boarding up the walls, organising transport for delivering the large-scale installation to the graveyard.
Rubber ducking. Being a consultant and supporting hand to our main programmer Kasper Thomas de Kruiff, coming up with the code logic for automatically switching between alternative ending scenarios.
The project-related activities helped me develop drastically in regard to both interaction and experience design, but also teamwork and individual development. The challenges we faced and overcame made the process interesting and brought us closer together as a team.
Paper review podcast:
Eva Maria Veitmaa
Kasper Thomas de Kruiff
Article and interview in U-Today:
“Giving a voice to the dead”
Article in the local newspaper Tubantia:
“Verhalen van overleden mensen op Boerenkerkhof in Enschede komen weer even tot leven”
Client: University of Twente and Stichting Historische Sociëteit Enschede Lonneker
Cover photo: © Cees Elzenga / hetoog.nl
WorkER is a mobile-based virtual reality application designed to simulate a variety of emergency situations. WorkER can be used for training and testing purposes by emergency workers from different disciplinary fields, for example, paramedics, firefighters, and the police. By removing the location-induced constraints from the training process, WorkER enables rescue workers to train more often, thus constantly improving their skills, effectiveness, and efficiency, and allowing them to retain their level of professionalism. WorkER gives constant feedback on the user’s performance and provides progress reports.
This project was carried out as part of the business development course for EIT Digital Master School. Over the course of 6 months we followed the lean start-up method to find an existing problem and to come up with a viable solution.
In a team of six, we worked closely with international stakeholders from the industry of emergency and rescue services.
Main activities during the project were:
– Interviews for identifying the customer needs;
– Ideation for coming up with a solution proposal;
– Rapid prototyping;
– Market research to confirm the suitability of the proposed solution;
– Analysing the business opportunities and financial aspects.
The final deliverables were a pitch deck, a demo video, and a thorough report on both the idea and the development process.
Eva Maria Veitmaa
Aditya Gianto Hadiwijaya
Redesigning Tinder for Digital Intimacy
The aim of this project is to redesign an existing application that enables forming and maintaining meaningful social connections to address a specific human need identified with methods from human centred design, especially dilemma-driven design (dr. Deger Ozkaramanli). The project is done in close collaboration with users to understand their goals, needs and use contexts so as to develop appropriate innovative solutions.
The design process consists of the following steps:
- Selecting an application to redesign (->Tinder);
- Assessing the chosen application from usability and user experience viewpoints;
- Interviewing and observing current users’ interactions with the chosen application to identify their emotions and underlying concerns, and discerning users’ dilemmas;
- Generating new design ideas and elaborating on possible use scenarios;
- Creating a design prototype and evaluating it with the targeted users.
The app chosen for this project is Tinder – one of the most popular dating apps among the current youth (La Roche, 2018). Tinder lets people “like”/”dislike” other people based on their profiles, and allows them to chat if both persons have “liked” each other (i.e. if a “match” has occurred). The user interface and swiping interaction has had a large influence on culture. Often, people use the term “swipe left/right” to indicate their like or dislike of everyday objects, situations, or people not only in smartphone applications, but also in real-life situations. It has changed the way many (young) people approach dating in general – the so-called “Tinder effect”.
However, Tinder is often seen as a superficial hook-up platform in which users are mainly focused on assessing the physical features of others. This negative reputation urged us to choose Tinder as the application to base our work on.
The aim of the project is to design for digital intimacy to enable forming and maintaining meaningful social connections via the use of smartphone applications. Taking into account the occasional negative reputation of Tinder, we defined meaningful connections as connections that are not only based on physical attraction and looks, but also on a “deeper”, more emotional level, such as common interests or viewpoints.
Final design proposal is a mobile application focused on initiating chats with other people.
Some of the features of the final design:
- Blurred images
- Audio-based descriptions
- Automatic positive reinforcement messages
- Random matches between currently online users
- Daily conversation topics
- Unlocking information about other users by answering questions about them
Eva Maria Veitmaa
Chloé Mélanie Dalger
dr. Deger Ozkaramanli
The following text is the final presentation for my storytelling class. As can be seen, I enjoy talking about intimate health even if it makes the audience uncomfortable. You should have seen the shifting and fidgeting that started in the mostly male audience at the beginning of this presentation.
Hello, I’m Eva and I am going to talk about women’s periods. Now, guys, please, relax, I know it may be difficult for you to watch me talk about lady stuff when using myself as an example, so I am going to use a fictional character instead. And I must apologise to the ladies in the audience – I am going to keep it as simple as I can so that I don’t lose the guys.
So let’s meet Mary. She is a woman and like every fertile woman, she bleeds for a week every month. Mary, like some women do, uses an application to keep track of her menstrual cycle. This enables her to have a better overview of when to expect her next shark week, also known as a period. This way, she knows to make plans accordingly or to stock up on tampons. The app provides a general analysis on what is happening to her body, too, including the mood changes.
Like when a girl bursts into tears during a really happy comedy movie. We’re never quite sure whether it is because of stress or the hormones. It’s very confusing.
Using this kind of a tracking application means that Mary has to enter information about her body temperature, vaginal discharge, mood, and activity every day. This takes time, which can be too bothersome for some women, like me. The time-consuming routine is alsowhy I, personally, do not use these applications. But Mary does, and as a result she should know exactly on what day her next period starts.
Last month Mary lived temporarily at her boyfriend’s place. He does not have a thermometer, so Mary could not mark down her body temperature, even though the application asked her to. “It’s not really that relevant anyway,” she thought. But it was, because the application bases its predictions on the data entered by Mary. By skipping on entering the body temperature, the app had less information to use for its predictions. As a result, the app-generated prognosis was inaccurate and Mary’s period surprised her a day early. It was… well… as Ron Weasley would put it: “Bloody hell!”.
This situation with Mary got me thinking. What if there was a way to improve the accuracy of these period applications? What if me and Mary and all the other women could have a real-time status report on what is going on with our bodies? What if we didn’t have to enter the information manually every day?
These questions made me come up with the concept of a new automatic data gathering technology called Lucy. Lucy is a woman’s best friend by enabling her to get a better, more accurate overview of her intimate health. The concept is inspired by current intrauterine contraceptives also known as spirals. Lucy is a tiny medical device that is placed inside the uterus. For those who don’t know, that is the place where the blood flows or baby grows.
Lucy is not actually that big, by the way. I just enlarged it in the picture to make it easier to notice.
Inside the uterus, Lucy monitors all the relevant vitals, such as the pH-level, temperature, and hormones. By being there, at the source, it obviously gets much more accurate information than it could with Mary selectively interpreting the outside symptoms. With automatic data gathering, Mary also cannot forget to enter the information. Lucy observes all the necessary vitals on its own. The gathered information is then presented to Mary using an application interface. As a result, she can get an accurate up-to-date status report. All this without any effort on the user’s side.
Of course, many questions still remain. How shall we make this secure? How will Lucy be powered? How could Lucy be as unobtrusive as possible? Which additional features could Lucy have?
Which is why I am standing here in front of you. I have a general vision and I am determined to make Lucy a reality. If you want a slice of this pie, join me to make periods less bloody annoying and revolutionise the women’s health tech industry together.