infoedu_1

design for behavioral changes

Posters and drawings on the walls of primary health centers in India. If you want to get an idea of the seriousness of the matter to educate and treat the local population, you can have a look at the comparison of top 10 causes of death between the developed and developing countries.

Can you design a poster so convincing that the beholder would change the attitude, or get motivated for proper treament or prevention? I am no graphic designer, but this presents a good challenge for those of you who are.

on a different note: my new team, Nokia Research Center India worked on a mobile service pilot called Health Radar, a reporting system for malaria outbreaks in 2009. this is no graphic design work, but it dealt with how we can change the existing practices of information dissemination and assimilation. changing the existing and forming new habits are the most challenging part of making the new practice work, which is to happen to various people involved throughout the whole process. in the next decade or so we hope to see the top 10 causes of death list in the developing countries will see a dramatic change.

maternity booklet cover

born blessed

maternity booklet cover

maternity booklet, main info keeping page

A good maternity care is the foundation of a healthy society. While traditional wisdom still prevails in communities with little influence of modern technology and services, it does not always offer the best possible solutions available.

One of the challenges that primary health centers (PHC) in rural India are facing is to make people be aware and trust the medical services that they provide. Offering a substantial amount of cash & a maternity package (pictured below, containing all the basic goods needed for a new born baby) to give birth in the PHC is an exemplary effort to attract such population to the advanced medical service.

maternity kit given to BPL (below poverty line) family giving birth at PHC

I have experienced maternity indirectly through people around me. But not much when it comes to the real realm of parental responsibilities. In January, I had a chance to visit government-run health centers in Udupi district in South West India. As an unexpected byproduct of the visit, I learned a great deal about maternity healthcare.
The printed material for the maternity care fascinated me (to be honest, I don’t know what material is available in other countries). This government issued maternity education and record keeping material design is very visual so that literacy level does not matter much in using it. In any case, all the materials come available in the local language of the region.

portable record card for maternity care

portable record card for maternity care

The record for vaccination needs to be kept by the family for at least 5 years, depite it being just a mere piece of paper. It acts both as a record keeping tool as well as reminder for the future visits or activities.

Field workers, called asha (accredited social health activist) are vital for rural healthcare in India. While the majority of population lacks an official identity, these field workers walk the ground on foot, visiting house to house for families that they are responsible for and get all the needed information manually to update the records back in the office. They are also the mobile networks to disseminate information, mediate communications, and educate residents on health. Tey are the mobile healthcare enablers, where both families’ and doctors’ mobility is compromised due to the lack of vehicles, roads, or time. Above all, they are the human and humane keys to open the suspecting hearts to the potentials of modernized, unfamiliar services.

If you look at the whole of healthcare as a service, you will see a lot of parts that can be improved dramatically by implementing technology solutions replacing the existing roles of people’s manual work. More often than not, service designers should really try to foresee whether the partial replacements would become a sustainable part of the whole organic process.

A bigger part of the total cost of implementation in getting technology solutions into existing processes is often about changing the human practices after all, ranging from re-training staffs and users, to political and social policies. How will roles of asha’s change in the coming years? What would be the crux of their role that would remain stronger than before? Where should the first investment of changes be?

record keeping card designs

population registry book, indicating BPL (below poverty line) beneficiary

I deeply thank doctors at the primary health centers, who opened the doors for us and took their valuable time. And the Manipal University staffs who kindly guided us.

tabacco package

(branded) warning

what do you see in this product?
it is a tobacco package you can see all around India, usually sold in street stalls specializing in all things around smoking and chewing (and subsequently spitting) pleasures of men. i thought all cigarettes were branded with a scorpion logo and hence monopoly might be in place for cigarettes in India.

as you can see on other products – the scorpion logo is not a branding of any particular company, but it is a symbol used for health warning. having been born and living in scorpion-free countries, the logo does not communicate any danger – except the faint memory from reading fairy tales and myths.

The Unknown, The Untried : A tutorial on design research

In case you have not noticed, there is a conference on design research in Seoul from tomorrow, October 20th, 2009. The online registration is already closed, but if you happen to be in Seoul – the onsite registration is still possible.

I will be running a full-day tutorial on the exploratory design research, with a special focus on how to involve people in the process. I will approach it like a participatory workshop: I plan to use my past projects as a way to let participants think about designing the design research methods.

A full-day tutorial means 5-6 hours on Sunday, so it’s only for the really dedicated (and those who are free from the real-world chores on weekend).

But it will be good to see you there: this is a very rare chance for me to look back at and share the various projects over the last decade in depth with you. Your opinions and feedback will be of great inspiration to me.

Conference website: http://www.iasdr2009.org/

bodycareexp_cleaner

body maintenance

I believe it is and will be one of most growing industries – body maintenance and enhancement. There must be a lot of local practices worth revisiting and possibly spreading. Some intimate snapshots from Chinese ear cleaning (making sure your ears are in good working order and cleaned) and suction cup treatment (boost your circulation) sessions, thanks to the co-adventurers who were not camera-shy.

bodycareexp_cleaner

bodycareexp_earoperation

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bodycareexp_suctioncups

bodycareexp_lounge

the suction cups left my back in red polka dot pattern for a couple of weeks afterwards.

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Expanding the boundary of your space

In Chengdu, you see various objects are hanging or arranged to be used in what some of you and I might call public space. Without the familiar layer of protection that is common in other places, like an extra glass wall or plastic wrap. I could not help thinking of the word ‘exposed’ for these objects: Exposed to the open air, exposed to potential germs and dirts, exposed to public eyes, exposed to theft. But obviously my perception is contrived – as I spent the whole of my life living in densely populated cities where houses did not include much of outdoor or semi-public space. Where do you draw the boundary of where your ‘private’ space ends?

hanging_clothes

hanging_rooftop

hanging_tops

hanging_mirror

hanging_wokpan

hanging_sausagecourtyard

hanging_sausagelaundry

hanging_meatmarket

hanging_meatmarket2

batterycharger_overview

Approaches to sustainability

Do you remember shops in the movie Blade Runner where people could buy spare parts, whatever it is you are looking for, like eyeballs? When you use things beyond its expected or intended duration that they are designed for, spare parts are inevitable. People live longer. Second-hand goods trading extend lifetime of things.

Among those things, there are a lot of battery-operated devices, increasingly so. I personally don’t remember having used any electronic device long enough to see its battery life drained of it, except my first electronic tooth brush. The very first model from Braun lasted 7 years of use with me before its battery gave up, which was not replaceable. My father once collected 7 motorola startec batteries from his friends who were changing their phones to newer models because he did not want to ever change his mobile phone (as it was the last simple model in the market, he claimed). He did survive on those scavenged batteries for a couple of years, but eventually had to give up as it became impossible to get more batteries for that model and repair service too costly. He was alone; too few people shared his interest in the market to support him to use his mobile phone that long.

batterycharger_consumableparts

In the back alleys of the huge mobile phone district in Chengdu, you will see many ‘inofficial’ shops serving the popular needs of their customers – including repairs and spare parts. Easy-to-lose items like stylus, consumables like battery, and cosmetic items like phone covers and protective cases are all vibrantly traded here. They are offered alongside of numerous mobile phones that are made more affordable.

Who do you think would buy extra batteries, and why? Some design decisions, intended or not, have the bigger impact on products’ lifecycle in the hands of people.

Bonus:
In the market – I noticed this universal battery charger, which was sold to me at 10 yuan (~1 UK pound). This charger can be adjusted to fit any type of popular mobile phone batteries. Recently we saw many nice ideas to reduce waste generated around charging, like a smarter charger to prevent overcharging or making a universal charger standard. I am not sure how safe this product is, but thought it’s quite a neat idea.

batterycharger_overview

batterycharger_topview

batterycharger_sideview

batterycharger_inshopuse

this is a test to see how it appears

animals in our lives

Domesticating animals is a long part of human history. It is speculated that there are and will be more pet dogs than children in some parts of the world. My sister declared that her lifetime partner will be a Russian blue cat, not another human being. Her mother, in the hope of persuading her, argued: “imagine you will get sick one day – your cat cannot help you with anything.” My concern for her is more about the discrepancy of the life expectancy between humans and cats. One of major reasons why modern city dwellers have pets is for emotional attachment. In that sense, you may say their roles will not change much, but here are two provocative scenarios of ‘useful pets’:

Networked dog in Brinkland: my ex-colleague and design ‘futurescaper’ anab worked on a concept of networked dogs with implanted chips that turn them into mobile hotspots and digital data storage (you may remember Anab from her yellow chair story as i did, from ubicomp 2005 in tokyo).
Life support: Using human-friendly animals for life support, replacing the role of non-functional organs in human bodies through the ones in living animals, was shown in last year’s graduation show in RCA designing interaction, by revital cohen.

Did you think about the lives of these animals when reading through these scenarios? Would you argue that this may make their lives ever more meaningful for them and their owners? How would you compare this to the currently wide-spread practice of castrating house pets? Human race has genetically modified or influenced the evolutionary development of domesticated animals for a long time. Furthermore, we have started to see genetically cloned animals. I cannot yet form my opinion around the topic of modified and ‘enhanced’ non-human life forms, but it will surely be a space to watch.

Back to the present, I found some photos of animal-related signage that highlight public behavioral issues living with pets.

dogs_2_scary
Warning of potentially hostile dogs can be an important safety issue – or ensuring the effectiveness of employing the dog. In Japan, each household is asked to put a sticker indicating there is a dog in the house. A new sticker is issued every year, so you can guess the age of the dog by looking at the number of stickers.

dogs_3_dontbringdogin

dogs_3_notallowed
The most common sign about dogs is to indicate whether dogs are allowed or not in that space, in an attempt to promote the right behavioral norm suitable for the space.

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dogs_4_notallowed

dogs_5_guidedog
Sometimes, dogs are conditionally allowed if they are kept on a leash. Service or ‘working’ dogs are typical exceptions. I once saw a ‘working’ dog in the underground helping a blind person. He was impressively calm and controlled in the extremely crowded tube. I don’t know how they are trained and qualified, but they certainly seemed to deserve a special treatment.

dogs_8_bigdog
In Helsinki, public parks have dogs’ playgrounds. These playgrounds are usually divided into two different kinds: Big dogs’ and small dogs’. There are a huge variety of dogs people have domesticated, and many of them still have the perfectly preserved instinct to kill.

dogs_10_waitingoutside

dogs_11_dogbarmiyakohotel
It is not so common but there are occasional facilities prepared for dogs. Some Helsinki supermarkets have hooks on the wall to tie your dogs or metal cages outside the entrance. In Tokyo, I saw a water fountain named “dog bar”.

dogs_9_dogwasteonly
Dog waste disposal might have had a leaping progress over decades but I don’t think I have witnessed it in my lifetime yet. Considering the elevated level of hygiene standard, it is unbelievable that some dog owners let their dog soil the neighborhood under their surveillance. After all, it’s the density that makes the waste disposal a real problem. So as pet dog population increases, we may see stricter rules about this in more places around the world. In places where dog walking is popular, you will see dedicated bins only for dog waste.

dogs_14_cleankamakura
Perhaps your dog will one day be your guide to behave properly in public space?

dogs_13_dontletdogmarking
The text-heavy orange sign below is a request from the district health center asking residents to forbid dogs from marking in the neighborhood. Considering that marking is a fundamentally instinctive behavior of a normal dog, it is an indirect message to tell the residents that they should either not walk in the neighborhood, or seek surgical solution.

dogs_12_donotthrowpetsaway
A disturbing phenomenon of all this is that there are a lot of pets that are discarded by humans. In Kamakura, a quiet neighborhood outside of Tokyo, I found this sign saying that throwing pets away is a crime subjected to a fine of 300,000 yen (~1800 pounds).

I recently watched the movie A.I. (artificial intelligence) with bitterness. As appearance can be deceiving, robots that perfectly replicate human children would always spark up much more debate and emotional reaction than (hypothetically) equally-able teddy bears, thus making it humane vulnerability. A mighty robot engineered to pursue its dream without any constraint subjected to the rules of its environment seems fundamentally violating the basic rules of the robot engineering, or the very virtue of all ‘beings’. More so, if the appearance had no bearing on what it can be capable of, as it will defy our own human instinct that we developed over the long path of evolution. Will our relationship with pets change? Will the functions of the pets get ‘enhanced’? Will we adopt new species of pets of our own creation? How will we evolve our notion of ‘the right thing’ to do when it comes to treating and living with non-human beings?

dogs_15_puppyseller
This last photo was taken in Seoul a few years ago. She is selling puppies on the street. She didn’t have much business going on, but surely playing with all her puppies kept her busy.

I am looking forward to my sister’s cat, Summer, next week in Seoul. Even though I have cat allergy, I always look forward to having him lounging around me.

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(it will be) one of us

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How would you feel robots walking casually on the street? What would be your first implant / code / tag on your body for? What if a pat on the shoulder is much more than a mere physical gesture? Get your opinion ready now to recall it in the future when you will be such a natural part of it that you won’t even notice.

200804_tokyo_barcode1

Tokyo anime fair, 2008. I loved the astro boy who walked by.

chengduhotel_03

hints of a welcome

chengduhotel_01

One of the sweetest moments in staying at hotels is to find the adapter in the room that accepts plugs of all shapes. This hotel added on a whole extension unit to accommodate all possible gadgets a traveler may carry.

chengduhotel_02

Managing to get the Internet connection in the room first time is a moment of relief. Many hotels, or the ISP prepare customized start page for that first moment. Regardless of how wisely the start page is chosen, or how jet lagged you are – this first page adds to your notion of where you are. On a side note, I understand that Internet connection cost varies a lot depending on the country and hence there are many reasons why some hotels still cannot afford to provide it for free for guests. But I loathe at hotels in the Internet-developed world, especially large corporate hotel chains that still offer internet connection at the ridiculous cost of almost 10% of daily room rate. It will be increasingly comparable to the concept of charging for the use of toilet separately from the room rate for guests.

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At a hotel I stayed in Chengdu, China in November 2008.