Each Friday you'll share work with peers in studio. This is probably a good place to mention that a few ideas are extremely common year-after-year: coordinating lunch, finding parking, connecting with a study buddy, splitting a bill with friends, and "What's in my frig?". Consider these topics taboo. While there are strong apps in each of these domains, treating these as taboo stretches your brain more.

Collective Creativity

While creativity is often time associated with individuality and uniqueness, innovations often times are results of collaborations. How might we help individuals collaborate (either co-located or remotely, synchronously or asynchronously) to deliver better results on creative tasks? Whether it is an approach to address differences between strangers online or a process of creating art to bring co-located people together. A few questions to consider:

  • How might we leverage discourse and debate to develop stronger ideas?
  • How might we bring people together through the process of co-creation?
  • How might we make collaborative processes more creative to enhance the output?

Taboos: Project management apps

Presenting Information

Studio leader: Jasper Travers
CSB 180, Friday 10:10am - 11:20am
CSB 180, Friday 11:30am - 12:40pm

It’s a big data era now. There has been an explosion of people and organizations looking to do interesting things with their data. Information design is the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it. It closely related to the field of data visualization that allows us to spot patterns, trends, and correlations that otherwise might go unnoticed in traditional reports, tables, or spreadsheets. Good information design is crucial for making insights and taking actions. In this studio, we’ll explore how to effectively present information to help people. Something you might consider to help you brainstorm:

  • What insights might people glean from the information you would like to present?
  • How does information help you create values or achieve your goals?
  • How do you help users find the core concepts from plenty of info in the efficient way?
  • What interactions could help you present information in the intuitive and intelligible way?
  • Your users could vary from individuals to organizations.

Taboos: Step/Calorie/Sleep Trackings

The Quantified Self

Studio leader: TBA
CSB 272, Friday 8:50am - 10:00am
CSB 114, Friday 12:50pm - 2:00pm

With the help of digital devices, we have an unprecedented ability to track our behaviors, habits, and thoughts. But turning data about ourselves and our communities into valuable insights is still remarkably difficult. This studio will explore ways to support monitoring, reflection, and behavior change by collecting, consuming, and sharing personally relevant information. We will consider:

  • How might we help people learn more about their everyday lives through self-tracking?
  • How might we help people draw insights from the mass of data they collect about themselves?
  • How might we encourage people to share information about themselves for the benefit of specific communities? (e.g. research, public health, support groups?

Check out and for more inspiration

Taboos: Calendar, Goal, Note apps

Removing Barriers to Learning

Studio leader: Jun Suh
CSB 180, Friday 12:50pm - 2:00pm
CSB 180, Friday 2:10pm - 3:20pm

Unnecessary obstacles limit learning in cognitively-complex domains such as computersound programming. With a lack of appropriate feedback mechanisms and interventions, learners can experience frustration and disengage from the learning experience. In order to prevent learners from abandoning their learning goals, we must devise new ways to either remove or diminish the impact of the frustrating obstacles that learners encounter. For example, blocks-based programming languages remove the possibility of getting frustrating syntax errors, making them a good choice for teaching learners basic programming concepts. This studio is not limited to learning academic topics, like programming. Think about other topics in any preferred domain (aviation, cooking, gaming, etc.) that have frustrating obstacles that impede learning and consider:

  • How can we assist learners in their education of a specific topic?
  • How might we diminish/remove common obstacles that prevent learning a topic?
  • How has this domain not been made more accessible, but could be through technology?
    • For example, think about how a specific subset of people (children, seniors, people with disabilities, etc.) might have different learning obstacles that can be alleviated with your app.

Taboos: QnA sites/apps (StackOverflow, Quora) and basic note managers (Evernote, Keep)

Social Technologies

Studio leader: Amanda Song
CSB 272, Friday 10:10am - 11:20am
CSB 272, Friday 11:30am - 12:40pm

There’s never been a community as large as the Internet. Luckily, the field of social psychology has been established centuries ago and provides many studies that can help inform the design of new technologies. These studies investigate the behavior of individuals in social scenarios, such as this, this, or this -- there are numerous ways technology can influence people. Designing social experiences can be challenging, but also fun and rewarding!

  • How can we leverage the power of the crowd to promote social good?
  • How can we use social data to nudge people towards good behavior?
  • What new kinds of interactions can we create between people?
  • Remote or co-located? Synchronous or asynchronous? It’s up to you.

Taboos: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Slack, Tinder, Douyin, Wikipedia, Yelp

‘Sound’ Feedback

Would Google Maps be as effective as it is today without the voice guiding us? How sure are you that a picture was clicked without the virtual shutter sound on your phone? Can you think of ways to enhance the feedback given to users using sound - what are some scenarios where this kind of auditory response would make an experience richer and more effective?

  • Think about the audience this would cater to
  • What about the environment this would be used in - does it make sense only indoors?
  • How much is too much in this case?

Taboos: Avoid creating another screen reader app or a notification app, these are features in an app not an app by itself.


It may be easier to understand mindfulness by considering what happens when we are not mindful: inattention. During inattention, our minds are free from the pressuring tasks of discerning stimuli or interpreting new information, and instead our brains return to what is known as the Default Mode Network (DMN), a sort of default circuit that activates when we are passive, associated with daydreaming, reliving the past or absentmindedly ruminating. Mindfulness is the quality or state of being aware of something. Our human ability to be aware of our thoughts, our environment and ourselves is very powerful, and being taken advantage of by the over-stimulating world we live in. In this studio we will attempt to create interfaces that can help us cultivate mindfulness to improve our lives.

  • Becoming more aware of ourselves by being mindful of our habits, choices and biometrics may allow us to make better and smarter decisions in the future.
  • Inattention is metabolically expensive, and over activity in DMN often manifests as anxiety. Mindful practice has been repeated cited for reducing DMN activity over time in practitioners.How can we overcome inattention? (
  • Heart rate over time may be an example of a biometric that can be tracked to look at physiological effects of mindfulness training.
  • By becoming more aware of where our minds wander and why, we can help ourselves waste less energy and have more productive lives.

Taboos: Meditation app (Headspace is great!), Scheduler apps