Gene Lu's Portfolio

City Games – Thesis Proposal V1.0

What better time than now to change my thesis proposal again. Rather than another image of a house on fire, I was thinking about upgrading the level of severity with a photo of a nuclear explosion. Hohum.

Don’t despair! This idea is still relevant to people of old age because this proposal encourages physical wellness earlier on in life. By addressing physical wellness at an earlier stage, there is a greater chance for healthier habits to form, which will set people up for a healthier life in the long run.

Topic Statement
Q: What problem are you taking on?
For my thesis, I will be addressing the lack of physical activities in adults living in densely populated cities. With more and more information being made more accessible through our already saturated digital ecosystem, our lives are becoming more sedentary. From desktop computers to smartphones, we find ourselves immersed in an ocean of devices, overwhelmed by digital content and underwhelmed by physical activity. Because we are slowly drowning from the over-consumption of information, I propose that we utilize these same ubiquitous devices to counteract our own self-induced physical atrophy.

Potential Audience
Q: Who are you designing for?
I am designing for adults ranging from the age of 24 to 34. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average gamer is 34. There is also potential to address a younger audience of 18 and above.

Q: What do you know about your audience so far, and what questions have you yet to answer?
After 12 years of being physically active, specifically at the gym, I’ve come across numerous people that were intially motivated to work out, but eventually stopped after a short amount of time. Reasons for giving up included: not having enough time, laziness, too expensive, boredom, and a lack of motivation. Several of these reasons also apply to other physical activities such as running, playing sports, etc.

Some of the questions that I have yet to answer are:

  • What have other companies done in the field of physical fitness/wellness and how does it pertain to what I’m doing?
  • Why do people continue to or stop using the products/services mentioned above?
  • What are some of the social forces involved in motivating a person to participate in an activity?
  • Do people understand the value proposition in a healthier lifestyle?
  • In what ways can physically interactive artifacts align with current behaviors in the city?

Q: What is the experience you intend and form it might take?
What I am proposing is a physically, competitive environment between a person and others with benefits for achieving certain milestones. An ecosystem of various artifacts will digitally monitor the physical activity and cumuluative data will be made accessible through a digital device, e.g. smartphone, computer. Possible forms MIGHT include: portable, data-tracking accessories, e.g. wiiboard made to track balance on the train; public space installations, e.g. jungle gym for adults; the embedding of sensors throughout the city, e.g. subway stairs with RFID reader; and so on.

Market Context
Q: What are the opportunities for your thesis idea in the marketplace?
There are already devices like Nike+ and the FitBit out in the market that track personal informatics, but the physical activity that these devices track is limited, e.g. running. There has yet to be a system that tracks multiple forms of activities especially within the context of a city.

Why Topic is Relevant/Interesting
Q: Why are you interested in this subject? When did your interest start?
I am interested in this subject because I’ve been physically active all my life, whether it was from playing sports or going to the gym. It has become a part of my daily ritual and has made me feel better both mentally and physically; increased my confidence; and improved my health.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this experience? How is it relevant to you?
I hope to learn more about how we can improve our physical wellness in this age of information, as we are mentally overwhelmed and physically underwhelmed. It is relevant to me because there are still interaction designers out there that are trying to devise more ways to better feed us information without putting much thought into our physicall well-being.

Project Plan
Q: What are your next steps?

  • Market research on products and services that are already out in the market
  • Diary studies to evaluate one’s relationship with their personal informatics device
  • Interviews to gather one’s view on participation and physical wellness
  • Observations and shadowing to help come up with physically interactive artifacts
  • Prototype and bodystorm
  • Reiterate, Test, Repeat
  • Build Artifacts

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  • 10 Oct 2010

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