A speculative and critical work to challenge peoples’ conventional relationships with technology, and their relationship with themselves
Primary and secondary research
Also contributed to prototype construction.
Sep 2019 — Dec 2019
A biometric wearable
During the first week of Design Field Study, we were given the challenge to explore the technologies associated with biometric sensors to define our problem space for a speculative project that would address some of the problems that people have with technology in modern world.
I used a semi-affinity diagramming method to explore the current problem spaces that are associated with biometric sensors. Then we prioritized the problem spaces according to the following criteria
How much they impact societies
How much they impact individuals
The role of biometric sensors
Level of importance
Room for innovation
Based on our applied method, we decided to focus on mental health and depression in young adults through the lenses of technology and socio-personal relationships.
According to the National Department of Health Statistics, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults between the ages of 15-34. Moreover, the most significant psychiatric risk factor associated with suicide, is major depression. With depression in young adults being on the rise (Mailman School of Public Health), we concluded to find out what factors contribute to depression in young adults, and what methods are being employed to combat that depression.
After conducting a through and deep secondary research. We designed our primary research methods to address the following questions:
What are the impacts of personal technology on the mental health of students with depression?
What are the socio-personal factors that contribute to depression in young adults?
What factors are most impactful in fighting depression in young adults?
What methods do students employ to fight depression?
There are multiple organizations at the University of Washington that provide services for students who are struggling with depression, including the Disability Resources for Students (DRS), Counseling Center, and Hall Health Center. We also reached out to counselors who had the experience of working with young adults that struggle with depression.
We used a screener to recruit our participants for the primary research.
We recruited two experts that had the experience of working with young adults who struggle with depression.
Pouyesh Ganji, a juvenile detention center therapist
A counselor working at the UW Hall Health
For our primary research, we interviewed 7 young adults that:
Were 20-32 years old
Dealt with/have recently dealt with depression
Were self diagnosed or clinically diagnosed with depression
In our interviews, we used the following methods:
Experience with depression
Recovery and current lifestyle
Sort coping methods into things you do/don’t do
Add any additional coping methods that you use
Arrange the cards in order of importance to you
" I thought about it [deep depression] as a hole that your stuck in... sometimes I'm scraping, scraping, scraping, trying to get out, but then I just fall back in "
- A 26 year old PhD Student who is struggling with depression
" I would say that building that self esteem, was the turning point to my depression "
- A 24 year old master Student who has previously struggled with depression
" I believe that people have to want to change, I don't think I can make anybody change. "
- Pouyesh Ganji
In order to better understand the current needs and issues of our target audience, we conducted a deep secondary research.
We read more than 36 published papers and articles about depression in young adults and the impact of technology on depression and young adults.
The following are some of the knowledge based findings:
Each person’s experience with depression is entirely unique. Therefore, each person requires unique treatment.
Depression can happen for many reasons, including genetics, childhood experience, trauma, stress, and other factors.
Physical activity and exercise releases chemicals in the brain that naturally combat depression.
There is correlation between increased use of social media and increasing rates of depression.
Depression is a battle to establish self worth. People aren't able to help themselves if they don't consider themselves worth helping.
Self awareness is the first step toward recognizing depression, and the first step toward dealing with it.
Relationships can be both hurtful and helpful, but deep connections with others can be markedly beneficial to those who suffer from depression.
Encourage self awareness
Being aware that you are "not feeling right" is the first step to taking action about your one's depression.
Without recognition there can be no action.
Challenge our relationships with technology.
Technology often hijacks our attention, which can make it difficult to even pay attention to ourselves and our condition.
Our final concept was Reflections
A biometric wearable which determines your emotional and physical state with biometrics. From that biometric information it contextually supports or counters your emotional state with questions, statements, or quotes from the past.