TRACE is a product that combines the powerful technology of virtual reality (VR) with storytelling to connect and bridge the gap between generations by visualising memories.
Team: Matthew Asher, Paige Kwon, Gloria Ip.
My Roles: Research, ideation, visual/graphic + interaction design, prototype, project management, film, video-editing.
Why is there a lack of connection between generations? We started our project with a simple but deep and intriguing question. After doing initial research on the topic of families and generation gaps, we were curious about the relationships between members of a family and specifically, the interactions (or lack of) between elderly and youth. The fact that this problem area was personal for the three of us made it even more interesting to solve.
–02 DESIGN PROCESS
primary + secondary research
We first conducted secondary research to learn more about generation gaps, aging, and families dynamics, then we moved on to doing primary research: hearing and recording personal stories from our participants (whom either have a family or are a part of one).
From interviewing participants and reading studies online, we found out that "the final stage of emotional development is experienced around the age of 60" and "during this stage, people seek to find meaning in their lives". According to Erik Erikson, building connections with younger generations can "help older adults feel a greater sense of fulfillment." In fact, "linking older adults with youth [could] provide advantages for both groups".
"Swapping stories is a great activity that could help build a connection." Once our scope of 'sharing stories between generations' became clear, we did research to find effective and engaging storytelling methods, which brought us to the technology of virtual reality (VR). However, we wanted to make sure we chose VR because it was appropriate and applicable rather than the fact that 'it was cool'. After digging deeper into the technology, we decided that VR would be one of the most immersive and feasible tools we could imagine people using. And VR is great for connecting people to events that happen far away or in a different time period, to build empathy and understanding.
So we came up with a concept in order to bridge the gap between generations: to create a VR mobile application that the elderly could use when they are telling stories to the youth. As the elderly share their stories, the youth could use the app inside the headset to watch and listen and be completely immersed in the experience; it would be as if they were brought back in time to re-live the memories of their loved ones.
With that in mind, our next step was to begin building out the different parts of our product from the VR headset to branding and mobile app.
The identity had to appeal to both young and old generations. We explored various word-marks and symbols to represent TRACE. We decided to go with a sophisticated word-mark and symbol, but also to keep it relatively modern with the bright colors. We included a gradient and animations to keep both parties interested. (Animation shown in product video.)
User flow & Wireframes
In order to work on the mobile user flow, we decided to make up a personal story based on the location of Seattle and the event of World Fair as an example. We sketched out flow ideas and storyboards to convey our concepts and we later on picked the strongest one to flush out. We also had rough ideas and explorations for how imageries could work together and support the memories shared by the elderly – specifically, we wanted to 'stitch old images together' as an overlay on top of a current view of the relevant location.
mobile app design
[360 Video Prototype / Presentation Download]
TRACE bridges the gap between generations through storytelling in VR. With TRACE’s VR headset and mobile app, people can share personal stories with their loved ones by immersing in those memories together at the same time. TRACE is designed with the vision of combining future technology (in five to ten years), and would rely mainly on the information and data users feed into the system. For more information regarding how it all works, please refer to the product video at the top.
This was a massive project with only three design brains; that said, even though TRACE still needs a significant amount of work to become a real product, I feel very happy and content when looking back at the rough process we went through to end up with TRACE–something we created from nothing. I had to get out of my comfort zone and learn different softwares for the product video. I also gained a lot of technical knowledge that I would never know if it wasn't for this project. S/O: I loved my team!