Sensewalker Trio

Three-way Smart Solution to enhance citizen data literacy

SenseWalker Trio is a series of smart solutions for improved technological transparency and mitigating the problem of digital divide. Embedded into three different digital devices respectively - a smartphone, smartwatch, and a wearable necklace -, SenseWalker Trio intuitively curates key information about the city’s invisible urban sensors.

Goal of the Project

  Urban Sensors

Examples of Diverse Urban Sensors

  Dutch Smart City of Utrecht uses a wide variety of urban sensors collecting real-time information about the city. However, its citizens know so less about it. The user research revealed that citizens don’t know when and where their data is collected, what kind of data is collected, or who has the ownership of the collected data.

The project focuses on the first two stages of technological citizen empowerment: (1) informing citizens about what urban sensors are doing, and (2) enabling them to exert their data ownership by opting in/out of the sensors’ tracking. Particularly, it explores different ways of providing information over sensors that are closely related to privacy and personal identity which were not sufficiently addressed in many projects.

Key Research Questions
  1. What are the hidden concerns and needs of Utrecht citizens regarding the urban data collection?
  2. What are the relevant interaction scenarios and formgivings that fulfil the design goals of providing objective information and creating choices of not to be tracked by urban sensors?  

Design Process

Brainstorming session with the participants Participants discussing together Affinity mapping with the participants Concepts categorized based on their approaches
  1. Co-Design Workshops revealed that citizens were experiencing a lack of control and anxiety mainly due to these three factors: urban sensors’ invisibility, inscrutable sorts of data they are collecting, and unclear ownership of collected data. 54 concepts were generated, ranging from poetic/subtle approach to functional/direct approach.
  2. I eventually selected three concepts that are evenly distributed on the aforementioned approach axes: sensor information map, sensor-free route finding service, and a nearby sensor tracking application.

Final Outcome

SenseWalker Trio offers citizens a refreshing way of experiencing and engaging with their city. It consists of three mutually compatible smart solutions that respectively operate on a smartphone, smart watch, and a wearable necklace. Existing digital devices were chosen to be the medium of the concepts so that they could potentially share the same data cloud system while creating diverse user interaction scenarios.

Concept 1: Sensor Map Mobile Application

Sensor Map App Mockup 1 Sensor Map App Mockup 2

Sensor Map Mockup

Using the actual data from Open Data Platform of Utrecht Municipality, this application visibly shows sensor locations and curates crucial information about these sensors real-time. By tapping on each sensor, users can check what sorts of data it is collecting, which entity owns the data, and its Privacy Label developed by CLEVERºFRANKE showing how privacy-friendly it is. With the app’s other features of route finding and sensor exposure overview on Report Tab, users can exert control over how much they would like to give away their personal data for the city.

Concept 2: Sensor Compass

Sensor Compass User Journey

Sensor Compass User Journey

The second concept on a smartwatch helps users to navigate privacy-friendly routes. Users can pinpoint a desired destination via voice control and Sensor Compass will assist them to bypass sensors. Users can determine which sensors they would like to opt out through the sensor filter feature. The analog compass aesthetic adds some level of playfulness to the experience pathfinding.

Concept 3: Sensing Necklace

Sensing Necklace 1 Sensing Necklace 2

Sensing Necklace Mockup

The last concept takes the most poetic and subtle approach of informing users about sensors. The pendant of this necklace shows how much the user has been exposed to sensors throughout the day with visual and haptic cues. Its green color will gradually change into a flaring red and it will produce buzzing vibration as the user bypasses more sensors.

SenseWalker Trio User Experience Scenarios

Brainstorming session with the participants Participants discussing together Affinity mapping with the participants
SenseWalker Trio exhibited at Smart Market Exposition

Together with other works within Demystifying the Smart City Research Program of Sensor Lab, the project was showcased at Smart Market Exhibition during Cirque Du Data at RAUM Utrecht Art Center (November 2019). Here, you can check out the Medium article from Sensor Lab featuring my work.

I am a UX designer and researcher from Seoul, South Korea. I create interfaces and experiences focusing on sustainable human-technology relationships. Holding flexible yet critical attitude towards new technologies, I am interested in involving actual users into the design process.