Fun Theory “Soap & Mirrors” project at the ITP Winter Show 2012

Tiffany Chou and I presented our project from the Fun Theory class at the ITP Winter Show this past Sunday (Tiffany) and Monday (me). We came up with the name “Soap & Mirrors” after wanting to change the name from “Mirror, Mirror” into something more appropriate for what this project evolved into.

Here are some pictures of the setup.

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When visitors came up to the display, I walked them through a user scenario such as this: Say you’re coming out of the bathroom stall, and you’re about to pass by the sink, when the floor sensors would sense that you were leaving and trigger a voice to say something like, “Don’t be gross. Wash your hands with soap.” Then when the user went to wash their hands, they would press the soap button, which would trigger a video projection of various content (in this case, cute cat/puppy clips) to appear on the mirror in front of them as they washed their hands. The voice would also encourage the user to keep washing by saying humorous things like, “Ooh, I like it when you scrub like that!” The video would play for the appropriate length of time for one to properly wash their hands (~15 seconds, according to our research), entertaining/rewarding the user all the while (not to mention letting them see their own reflection, as well, playing on their vanity). At the end of the video, the voice you congratulate with user with “You’re a tidy person,” or something of the like.

We wanted to promote better health and hygiene practices in a fun, rewarding way. We only slightly touched on the “shame factor” with adding the first comment that included the word “gross”. But overall we stayed pretty positive and took the advice of Katherine Dillon and our classmates and did not venture down the guilt/shame lane, since it would not be fun for the user, only to observers. We wanted to incentivize behavior changes in a fun way.

This concept could be adapted to different venues by changing the content of the videos, the output onto the mirrors (an opaque effect or face-tracking effect), and the audio voice (human instead of what we had, which was an automated voice).

To further develop this concept and go deeper into the the theory behind it, we could try to figure out a less blatant way of trying to change peoples’ sanitary behavior and go with a more psychologically subtle approach. A visitor suggested this to me and I really appreciated this feedback. I also got feedback about the audio voice — that it should be a real person to give the experience a more human, immediate quality, and in retrospect, I agree.


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