Investigation I - Prosthetic

tl;dr: Develop a experiential / speculative design for a memory prothesis; a tangible device to augment your memory.

Due: Thurs, Feb 9, noon

Submit Documentation: Gallery Pool - Prosthetic

Vannevar Bush's MEMEX imagined wearable cameras as an aid to total recall.

Vannevar Bush’s MEMEX imagined wearable cameras as an aid to total recall.


  • Tues, Jan 24 - Research Exercise Due.

  • Tuesday Tues, Jan 31 - Looking out Due.

  • 12.00 Tues, Feb 7 - Desk crit: 1st-cut design/prototype due

  • 12.00 am, Tuesday, 9th Feb 2016- Crit/Review of outcomes

  • midnight, Tuesday, 9th Feb 2016- Digital Documentation Due

Learning Objectives

This exercise is designed to develop knowledge relating to memory and technology and help to develop a body of knowledge as to how memory can potentially be supported with new forms of computing. As part of this exercise, you will:

  • Develop your domain understanding of memory and technological knowledge that’s needed for this course

  • Investigate existing technologies which can, could and are being used to support/augment/enhance/change memory

  • Speculate on potential approaches to augmenting memory from the practical to the outlandish (strongly encouraged);

  • Develop a hands-on exploration that begins to tease-out the broader considerations, issues and requirements in building memory-technologies (social, cultural, personal, biological implications etc.)

  • Work individually to explore your own skillsets, expertise, and perspective within the context of this course and understand how they might contribute to an interdisciplinary investigation by making work.


Develop a experiential / speculative prototype for a memory prothesis; a tangible device to augment your memory.

The goal of this exercise is to self-experiment. Find an aspect of memory that you care about and design a tool for it. You might try to find a limitation of your memory and design a new digital device to overcome it. You might imagine a device that would allow you to preserve a cherished memory that you no longer have a record for. Or you might speculate on a device that could help you journal aspects of your day that are hard to capture with technology today, like your emotional memory. You could try and solve a problem for your future self for example if you suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimers. You could construct a data selfie and physicalize your memories from data points. You could imagine responsive structures to help you remind and reflect when it matters. You could envision a device to help you reconstruct your memories digitally from fragments online or to share and transmit your memories to someone you care about.

Develop at least one prototype that demonstrates your ideas for augmenting memory.. The proposal should consider how data and digital information will be used to support memory and how this device would be used in the short (over a day) and long (over weeks and months) term.

The possibilities are wide and varied. But you should:

  • Make - i.e. test your ideas and give them a form.
  • Research - i.e. uncover theory, ideas, and precedent projects that inform your approach.
  • Gather - i.e. find inspirational resources from speculative designs, design fiction, science fiction, etc..
  • Experiment - e.g. don’t just prototype the device and interactions but simulate/construct the data it might produce or use;
  • Document - e.g. test your ideas on yourself or others, how do you or others experience and encounter the device, what are your reactions and responses, document how you respond to it, what values it offer, and why it might matter to you or others.

Unusual approaches, left-of-center thinking and impracticality is encouraged!

Note: Hardware, technologies and other resources can be requested.


  • A detailed speculative proposal / experience design. This covers:
    • the conceptual design for the project,
    • the goals and rationale for the approach
    • low-fi and high-fi design materials (mockups, concept videos, diagrams, experience maps, sketches, etc.)
  • A physical prototype of one ‘tool’ to support memory. You can take any approach to preparing this tangible manifestation that you feel is appropriate. This should be of reasonable fidelity to give form your your proposal, but will reflect your skills with prototyping interactive systems. This could include:
  • A digital presentation of your design work (3 minutes maximum)
    • Prepare a digital presentation and take part in a crit.
    • Showcase/demo your prototype during this time
    • Pose open questions and highlight challenges or failures encountered.

Final deliverables to be presented at the Crit/Review

Final Documentation Requirements:

Include a write up of the following:

  • Speculative Proposal / Conceptual Design: Describe your vision. What is the driving idea behind your design? What kind of solution are you trying to create and why? How does it enhance/augment/extend memory? What are your goals and motivations? How would it work in practice? etc

  • Prototype: Describe your experience/working prototype: What did you create, how, etc.? What tools and technologies were involved? Include appropriate content and illustration (e.g. a concept video, a video of the device in operation, diagrams, code, etc.)

  • Precedents: Describe theory, concepts, and research you have performed. Describe the prior work, ideas and projects that influenced your design. What work informed this idea.

  • Process: Describe how you arrived out the outcome. What iterations, refinements, design decisions and changes were made?

  • Open Questions and Challenges: What questions remain to be addressed or questions about memory did this exploration raise for you. What are the things we should pay attention to/discuss in class for future explorations?

  • Reflection: Reflect on making this project. What did you learn? What would you do differently? Did you get where you wanted to? If not, why not? What do you need to get there, etc?

  • Attribution and References: Reference any sources or materials used in the documentation or composition.

Each of these sections should be no more than 200 words max. and well illustrated (images, videos, etc.)

For the Project Info’s goal description: it must be tweetable - summarise your outcome in no more than 140 characters