Project GoalsIntroductionContextConceptSchemeOutcomeReflection

Portal to Your Brain

SPRING 2022 (2 months)

My Role

Team

Context

Responsible for designing and building the room installation. Participated in brainstorming, wizard of oz, and experience prototype.

(1) Product Designer & Project Manager (me)
(1) UX Engineer
(1) UX Researcher

Academic Project. Responsive Mobile Environments at CMU.

Portal to Your Brain

SPRING 2022 (2 months)

My Role

Responsible for designing and building the room installation. Participated in brainstorming, wizard of oz, and experience prototype.

Team

(1) Product Designer & Manager (me)
(1) UX Designer
(1) UX Engineer

Context

Academic Project. Responsive Mobile Environments at CMU.

Project Goals

1. Using the frame of ‘spookiness’, realize a room-scale collaborative prototype for an immersive-responsive experience to engage audiences in dialog around the invisible and otherworldly qualities in everyday technologies.

Creating an immersive-responsive experience that raises questions about privacy and the integration of technology with the self.

Introduction

Everyday Technology Might Appear Magical

From Spooky Technology1, Giesa et al. note that everyday technology would appear to be magical and, perhaps, terrifying to people in the past. But looked at another way, superstition or the belief in supernatural causation (deities, spirits, ghosts, etc.), and the many other folkloric ways of relating to the unknown have not gone away. They have instead mutated into new forms as we take technology for granted without necessarily understanding how it works.

(1)https://spookyte.ch/

Brain Sensing Headband, Electroencephalography (EEG) Signals

Context

An Exhibition That Proposes an Alternate Reality

In the context of the Haunted House, Portal to Your Brain proposes an alternate reality in the format of an exhibition. It recreates a home-office space where innovations such as brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) and holographic displays are part of our everyday environments, allowing for smooth transitions between productivity and relaxation. 

Images From Video Feed

Concept

What If We Could Control Devices with Our Minds?

At present, people interact with devices primarily through touch and, increasingly, through voice and gestures. But what would it be like if we were able to control them in the most seamless and accessible way possible – with our minds? Of the many emerging technologies that would appear to be magical, the idea that technology can become integrated with our minds is perhaps the most advanced and terrifying of all.

System Diagram

Scheme

A Path Between Brain Electrical Activity and a Holographic Display

Portal to Your Brain is an immersive experience – it guides visitors through a series of meditation exercises, establishing a direct communication path between the electrical activity of their brain and a holographic display. As visitors’ focus level increases (alpha waves decrease), so does the video fidelity, providing visual feedback of one’s mental state.

Holographic Screen Display, Pixel Ratio

Outcome

Granting External Agents Access to Our Inner Selves

Letting headbands connect our brains with any device, like a holographic display, might mean granting external agents access to our inner selves. Think of your biggest fear, what would you not like others to know about yourself —“Oh, careful not to think about it. Or else we’ll capture it…”

Video of "Portal to Your Brain"

Reflection

A Space That Initiated New Forms of Self-Understanding

The frame of ‘spookiness’ is a frame of fiction. Working on this project, it liberated us from real-world practicalities and allowed us to open our imagination to design speculative artifacts, focusing on questions and alternatives rather than concrete answers. 

As a result, Portal to Your Brain was experienced by its audience as a space that triggered conversations and initiated new forms of self-understanding —“What if technology [...] knows you better than yourself?” Opening up an opportunity to reflect on the boundaries between the environments we inhabit and the pervasive presence of technology.

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