S/eat Together: Prototyping mobility

A makeathon at IDEO SF, an unforgettable interview for the IDEO CoLab Fellowship

 

 

Update: Recently, I co-facilitated the first in Color<Coded>’s Community Technology Workshop series, one on digital security and privacy. My interest in the topic began in my last semester of undergrad, in a research project inspired by a guide to encryption by Freedom of the Press Foundation. Then and now, I have been dwelling on why privacy is often designed and engineered as an option, not a right. Design matters because there are choices made. And “[i]t will only become harder to identify which things to trust, which things we might gravitate towards, which things will have our consistent loyalty, and allegiance, and place of belonging, and source of self,” I read on Tumblr.

“Imagine what could be…”

What happens when a technologist-educator, MBA student, neurobiology undergrad, and product designer meet for a day to answer the challenge of designing for an AR/VR experience that enhances trust in the mobility system?

 

Post-its are cool again because collaboration is about questioning what and who is involved, documenting each of our thoughts, sharing our stories, discussing a specific group to design for, and sorting our goals.

Our conversation on what mobility means brought us to an idea that mobility is access to shared experiences—a seat at the table. I was encouraged to take the lead in a visual identity and contribute to a user interview video and onboarding website for S/eat Together, an AR kit that is optimized for dinner table conversations and might address the impacts of pursuing physical and social mobility by enabling genuine, guilt-free connections between young people who have left home and those they have left behind.

We asked those who stopped by our demo have a seat and answer the same prompt as our user interviewees (“If you could have dinner with anyone in your family, who would it be and why?”). “You almost had me tear up,” a peer shared as we were wrapping up the day.

Those I’ve talked to about the project since were intrigued that our approach to understanding and designing for mobility addressed the impacts of infrastructural and social mobility on connectivity and care. Perhaps what might have strengthened our case is surveying work that centers mobility as a system and a design problem, understanding the stakes businesses like IDEO’s partners have in mobility systems, and giving ourselves time to tinker with how the features of AR/VR can (or cannot) meet identified needs. Oh, and testing with users early. Some time after the makeathon, I’ve come across some interesting frameworks for mobility, such as this one: The Brooklyn Navy Yard has launched a design challenge to address “community mobility“—defined as connecting people to their home neighbors, enabling them to reduce environmental impact, and fostering an environment where business and careers can constantly grow—through a program or service.

 

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