Photo memories

In this project I tried to answer the question: How can we take photos more mindfully? Nowadays it's possible to capture every moment of your life by taking photos with your phone. The action is so easy that you end up with a pile of photos that, unless they contain a very strong memory, are hard to remember the value of. Active methods like scrapbooking and curating photos help to preserve the memories but those take a lot of time and effort. In this project I researched how I could make curating photos easier by giving people a small device to roughly sort photos into categories with while taking them. By adding this extra action I hoped to make the process of taking photos more mindful, keep people more engaged in the activity and create a stronger connection between the photo and the memory.

Based on memory theory the device had 5 buttons for 5 basic categories to sort a photo into: routine, special, inspirational, social and personal. Inside was a Particle Photon that connected to the phone's internet data and sent information about the chosen categories to the cloud. The accompanying photo from the phone was directly stored in this cloud as well. The device was wireless and with just enough battery power to power the photon without making it too heavy. Because the device needed to be a mindful extra step but shouldn't take too much effort I tried to create a peripheral (less attentive) interaction by using a distinct bright colored light for each category and giving each button a distinct texture to be used almost without looking.

A user test was done where participants took photos in their regular way for a week followed by two weeks of using the device alongside of it. After both periods they were asked to recall memories about their photos, after the first they had just the photos to look at but after the second period the photos were roughly curated into categories. More details were remembered about random photos when they were categorized, for other photos chronological order worked better. People spent more attention on using the device than intended but this also helped them remember more details and, maybe more importantly, helped them be more in the moment and enjoy the process of taking photos more.