Zone is an app + connected spinner that allow users to acknowledge and record challenging life events when they happen. The app guides users through reacting to and reflecting upon those events, facilitating the transmogrification of those challenges into empowering experiences.
This project was part of a class called Design the Life You Love, taught by Ayse Birsel. During the class, we followed her design methodology, Deconstruction:Reconstruction, to address tensions in our own lives with an app and connected product.
Background
I tend to dwell on things that challenge and upset me. I go over and over them in my head, but rarely actually do anything about them. As a result, when these situations arise or even come up multiple times, I never learn how to handle them.
The Zone spinner is a connected device worn on the hip that allows users to acknowledge these situations when they happen with a physical gesture and sends a log of this gesture to the Zone app via Bluetooth. By wearing the spinner on one’s hip, the physical gesture of twisting the spinner nudges users into a power pose, aiding them in the process of constructively reacting to the challenging event.
Function
I usually need to take a moment alone to defuse from upsetting, challenging events. For example, on the occasions when I have bad interactions with peers or teachers, I usually go take five minutes to walk around outside or sit in a bathroom stall and just breathe. This is when Zone users can open the app and log their initial reaction to the event, which is structured to help the user begin taking steps to take care of themselves.
After a 12 to 24-hour “cooling period”, the Zone app will send the user a prompt to complete their reflection from the event. The reflection takes the form of an exercise called “fear setting”, developed by venture capitalist Tim Ferriss. App users input the worst-case scenarios that could result or could have resulted from this challenging event occurring. Then, they write steps they can take to prevent these worst-case scenarios from occurring and steps they could take to recover from the scenarios if they occur. The app offers suggestions for scenarios and steps, but users have the freedom to write custom entries. By switching views on the app, users can track their progress on these action steps.
In summary, Zone is comprised of acknowledging and recording events in our lives, reacting and reflecting, and making concrete actions that will turn these challenges into empowering experiences for the future.
Process
This project started with the very first session with Ayse in which we deconstructed our own lives. Through her process, I realized that my telos, or designated purpose, is to empower others. Holding me back, however, is my fear of harm toward others and myself a well as my inability to confront my peers.
In this project, I combined my experience working in team and leadership development with research into self-empowerment. This led me to conceptualize a series of workplace or daily life items that help users identify and address challenging circumstances while nudging them into power poses. When people assume power poses, either intentionally or unintentionally, it releases chemical compounds and gives off social cues indicating that the person doing the pose is in control, helping maintain confidence and calm.
The power pose nudge carried forward into Power On, a suite of workplace items designed for systematic power redistribution. Within this suite, I created an item called Spectrum, a wearable that the user would pull on to display a color corresponding to their level of stress. Spectrum paired with an app called Zone, which would log each stressful experience (when the user interacted with Spectrum) and facilitate a guided reaction and reflection to the event.
Spectrum and Zone became the Zone app and Zone spinner for the final presentation, with the physical gesture and color indicator becoming subtler. The last step was to put together a relevant story and use case for Zone and revise the graphic design, which really made all of the difference.
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