Viola – Imperceptible presence

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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As technology is moving from personal and distributed computing towards ubiquitous computing, permeating with everyday life and the artefacts around us, how we interact with these enhanced artefacts poses serious challenges for user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Calm technology is a solution that reduces information flow and creates communication between technology and users in a non-intrusive and calm way. Furthermore, the rapidly mushrooming array of sensors and computational awareness offers us the ability to exploit vast, timely, accurate and useful knowledge of our surroundings and ourselves than ever before. When computers turn from being tools into being continuously present, our time perspective associated with them also transforms. While technology is being imperceptibly connected to us in the background, providing pragmatic information when needed, we start losing the awareness the technology even exists. This thesis is an attempt to propose a conventional wearable device that enhances our ability to broaden our senses. It portrays the design of a calm user interface prototype for sensing ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure and guidance for a UV-aware lifestyle by expanding our natural senses with digital sense. It is an example how technology can reduce cognitive load and give users background access to information which is typically unavailable to us, such as humanly invisible UV light. I built a working prototype of a wearable device that looks like a conventional object, sunglasses, but enables access to hidden qualities of our surroundings. Ultraviolet radiation is measured in real time and transformed into human recognisable form (sound and vibration) to trigger awareness of overexposure to UV. One important objective of my sunglasses is to allow the person to be conscious of her/his unconscious exposure and find out how that could alter our behaviour. The concept and the prototype were found to be meaningful and have potential for further development and commercial use. Tests revealed that the user interface and physical design should be further refined to fully unveil its potential as an everyday companion.
Vuori, Rasmus
Thesis advisor
Reunanen, Markku
wearable technologies, ultraviolet radiance, ubiquitous computing, sunglasses, senses, invisible
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