Loop

Each year Microsoft hosts a design expo with graduate students from 6 universities around the world. The 2019 topic was "empathy at scale," and Loop was the solution that my team delivered as a submission from UW. 

We spend a lot of time on our devices. Research shows that this tech usage has a negative impact on our empathy and compassion towards others. How might help users reduce addictive screen use behavior over time and encourage social interactions?

Project

Microsoft Student Design Expo

Role

I took on a strategic design role, focusing on connecting the product to the research and ensuring that we effectively solved the problem. I created the script and designed the sketches for the storyboard.

Millenials spend 4-5 hours a day on mobile devices.

People use devices in social settings.

89% people used their phone during the most recent social gathering, interacting with devices over people.

We are becoming addicted to our phones.

Studies show shrinkage in processing areas of the brain due to internet addiction.   

This addiction is making us less empathetic.

One effected area, the insular lobe, is involved in developing empathy and compassion for others.

Reducing problematic screen time and encouraging real life human interaction is critical to developing interpersonal empathy and improving emotional wellbeing.

Illustrated storyboard video, created by yours truly!

Idea

Loop started as an affective computing product to help children become more empathetic. Our research found that kids are quickly becoming addicted to screens and parents are concerned. 

According to the eMarketer study "US Kids and Digital 2018," 76% of parents said that their kids are more addicted to their devices than candy.

UCLA scientist Stuart Wolpert found that sixth-graders who went five days without even glancing at a smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic devices. 

How Might We help kids develop cognitive empathy by promoting collaborative and interactive behavior using screen-free technology?
Iterations

Wearable

A wearable device capable of determining the emotional state of the user. The device would be capable of processing language, sensing body signals and motion among other things. 

The device would react through colors and haptics to the emotions and behaviors of the user, encourage social interactions, and promote conversation. 

Toy

A game that utilizes affective computing techniques and sensors, such as language processing, body signals, sound recognition, and emotion, to determine when children are using empathy and rewards them. The game would purposefully be non-screen based, but would use techniques from addictive video games to get kids to use it. 

Smart Strap

Loop is a multi-modal add-on smart strap for watches that prioritizes conversations by regulating screen use and facilitating screen-time sharing. Loop algorithm limits time spent in ‘sticky’ apps based on user’s usage patterns, empathy levels and expert recommendations.

Loop encourages social connection, which lays the foundation for social engagement

Loop is a smart add-on for existing wrist wear that enables status checks without your phone. 

Loop understands context through biometric sensing and integration with your phone. 

Loop encourages social engagement by reducing the value of screen time in social contexts.  

Loop uses artificial intelligence to personalize limits and create gradual change. 

Loop never restricts essential functions, and rewards improved behavior.

Green Mode: Using phone in an appropriate context. The user will have no restrictions and the charge will drain at a normal rate. 

Yellow Mode: Using phone in an inappropriate context (i.e. social setting). The user will have no restrictions, but the charge will drain at a rapid rate. 

Red Mode: Screen time has run out. The user is restricted to essential apps only. This will only last a few minutes, just enough to make the user move onto something new.

© 2020 by Alea Abrams