Turn your smart home security camera into a creative collaborator that archives boring moments.
Smart home security cameras often blend into the background. They passively surveil us and contribute data to our digital archives that we rarely engage with. The calm technology movement creates the expectation that emerging technology should require the smallest amount of attention. Can a user experience be too frictionless and hands-off?
I selected this topic as a personal interest and led the research, design, and prototyping.
This project was my graduating design thesis at the University of Washington.
2022 - 12 weeks
Limitations of rigid interfaces for surveillance devices
The hands-off interface design restricts active engagement with this digital archive. Typically smart home camera apps have interface designs that are a linear scroll with isolated events. This makes it difficult to download videos and imagine the quantity of footage being archived.
Designing collaboratively with performance art tactics
The visual aesthetic of these cameras have a repetitive quality. We can’t resist staring at these boring moments. I started to imagine a new video archive interface that creates more urgency and transparency around these mundane moments that might say something more with the passage of time.
It’s already happening: use cases beyond “security”
Users are finding ways to repurpose security cameras for play and as a lens to document their lives. One individual who used their Wyze as a pet cam. They wanted to simply download videos all at once from a two-week period before their pet bunny passed away. Spoiler: You can’t.
Through a playful and satirical design storytelling lens, I use design fiction to explore a more active presence of surveillance technology in our daily lives.
The project’s fictional layer allows me to anticipate what could be for these product experiences without being tied to present-day technical barriers. These speculations help shape our next steps as today’s designers, engineers, researchers, and marketers.
The Staredown Toolkit uses playful cases and a centralized playback tool to reimagine these cameras as an active collaborator in documenting your creative process and sentimental boring moments in the home.
→ Speculative interventions to expand our moral imaginations
Functional & collaborative camera covers
To draw attention to these devices, place a Staredown Case over your cameras. Each case has a functional compartment that allows you to store items like the paintbrushes on your desk or car keys by your front door. Their modular design allows you to combine cases to create a one-of-a-kind sculpture.
Playback Tool archives your videos in one place
Connect your smart home security cameras to the Playback Tool website that archives recorded videos in one place. The tool tracks where you stare most as you scroll through the timeline. The interactions of zooming in or hovering over videos get documented with green circles.
By tracking where you stare, you can reflect on which recorded moments you notice most. It encourages you to actively pay attention to these boring moments captured. In one month, five years, or a decade from now, you can continue to stare at videos archived in the Playback Tool for as long as “the cloud” exists.