PRODUCT DESIGN - NAPIER ‘19
With many of us struggling with indecisive behaviour, Caitlyn Fong offers an intuitive and cathartic tool as a solution, miles away from digital screens and apps.
‘I often find myself stuck- shifting back and forth between different options. This gradually became an area of interest and through design, I wanted to create a sustainable solution to reduce the effects of indecision. Whether they seem small or big, the decisions we make influence even the simplest of actions, shaping the sequence of our daily habits and responses.
During research, I found little on existing products which support the formation of reasoning and understanding behind decision-making. From there, I realised that I wanted my product to become a natural aid in the decision-making process, as opposed to the user being told what choices to make without substantial analysis. Flow’s core function was derived from this: to allow users to weigh out their options and respond to their decision at hand by capturing their line of thought through physical form.
I knew I didn’t want Flow to rely on digital interaction from an early stage. To make one option stand out from another during decision-making, I designed a patterned grid, composed of two coloured parts. By assigning an option to each coloured side, pros and cons can be identified by moving an accompanying slider downwards and left to right across the grid. In addition, to prove one option to be more suitable than the other, an odd number of spaces in the grid was assigned to allow one side to gain more touch points than the other.
To make Flow analogue, I had to select a form of kinetic energy which would provide a way to trace the movement of the slider. This would produce the physical representation of the user’s thought process. Through further research, I found that magnetic application would be ideal for what I wanted to achieve and applied this technology in the form of ferrofluid. Composed of magnetised particles, ferrofluid responds with movement when a magnetic field is triggered in its environment. To adjust to the ferrofluid technology, I adapted the slider to be magnetic and developed a suspension fluid. The suspension fluid allows the ferrofluid to move around freely whilst lagging in movement to momentarily preserve the shape drawn by the magnet. Once it was refined, I housed the ferrofluid and suspension fluid mixture in a glass container which sits on the reverse side of the pattered grid. This allows the magnetic slider to influence the movement of the ferrofluid. By tracing the movement of the magnet, the coloured side which collects the most ferrofluid is an indicator of the assigned option which appears to be more favourable to the user.
By encouraging cognitive thinking, Flow brings to surface the natural preferences which fluctuate in our minds. I believe that this will help indecisive individuals to combat self-doubt and build confidence in trusting their own informed decisions.’