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Beatriz Vizcaino

Contents Introduction Audience Initial Explorations Review User Research Evolution Requirements Story Final Designs References

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Introduction This document presents my SVA IXD thesis journey during the fall of 2010 and spring 2011. The document shows the different steps followed in the design process from problem identification to the design and development of the final product/solution. This thesis is intended to address a problem around food consumption that is of great personal interest. I have always been interested in food and acquiring healthier eating habits. As a chubby kid I attended various nutritionists and dietitians that recommended a variety of diets that included nocarbs, no fats, and no dairy products. These diets and recommendations worked for a while but, as I grew up, I noticed that diets were not the solution for being healthier. Instead, being conscious of what you eat, exercising and having a balanced life style seemed to be a better approach to maintaining a normal weight. Later on, I became even more aware of the problematic when a couple of my family members were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. As a result, I realized that nutrition is not only the means by which we can have a better figure but also, it is a self-care measure that everyone has to consider in order to be healthy. Following, I started reading books about nutrition and its relationship to health such as The Anticancer Diet, Cook Right for your Type, Jillian Michael’s Boost Your Metabolism, among others. Recently, after moving to New York, I noticed that my whole life changed; I was always on a rush trying to accomplish a million things per hour; there was more stress, less time to cook and less time to be healthy. Additionally, I missed having dinners with my family sitting by the table. Since my childhood, food and meal times have been an important part of my family traditions; phones were never allowed in the table since it was a time for the family to talk and share. In summary, I lost the balance in my life that I used to have back home. Consequently, from the start of my Interaction Design program I have been ex


ploring the possibilities of using interaction design concepts to be healthier, balanced and help people that are in similar situations. For example, for the physical computing course’s final project my group and I worked on Mindful. Mindful is a fork rest that reminds the user to put the fork down and chew between bites while eating. The project offers a way for fast eaters to be mindful of their speed, by allowing time for the mind to process when the body is becoming full. Another example is Hydr8, a project for the prototyping course, which is an interactive water bottle and iPhone app that monitors water intake and reminds users to refill in order to reach their daily water consumption goal. This project was motivated by the fact that despite water being critical to a healthy mind and body, many people do not drink enough water every day. It was not a surprise that for my thesis I wanted to continue working with this topic. Another source of motivation was the obesity crisis that, for the last two years, has been the focus of major discussions in many newspapers and magazine articles and even design challenges. All these have motivated other designers, students and groups or companies to look for solutions to this wide-spread problem. After conducting extensive research, I found that a set of applications and solutions have already been developed. In the mobile and desktop applications domain, examples include: Livestrong, Locavore, Loose it, Nike Plus, Jaime’s recipe, Sleep cycle alarm clock, Fitbit and 20 minute meals. Although, these applications address some part of the problematic, there were other factors that have not received enough attention. I spent a couple of months examining several ideas that specifically targeted food transparency during the shopping or meal experience. As I tried to find an original contribution to the field, I had to look at the other end of the spectrum of the food experience. I decided to focus on wellness and balance and discarded the concepts about food meta-data in the shopping and meal stages.

introduction-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

In my hunt towards inspiration and originality I decided to tackle a smaller problem that was part of the obesity epidemic and something none of the products I was seeing out there was approaching. This was speed eating and the lack of food enjoyment. As a study conducted by Osaka University and published in the British Medical Journal pointed out, slowing down at mealtimes can highly impact weight loss. When a person eats too fast the brain does not have time to process what he/ she has just eaten and send the proper signals to the rest of the body, communicating that it has already been enough; thus the person would end up eating much more calories than what he really needs. Professor Ian McDonald from the University of Nottingham explains that speed-eating habits may have been learned during childhood and can be very hard to reverse.1

As a solution to such problem I am proposing Slow Eats, an iPad application for speed eaters and aspiring foodies that will help people slow down and savor food. Slow Eats helps individuals refine their palate, making them conscious of the aroma, texture and flavor of the food that is being eaten during meal times. On the following sections I will portray how I approached the problem, found the solution through primary and secondary research, prototypes, personas, scenarios, storytelling and other design tools. Additionally, I will exhibit my final concept and designs and explain my decision making process. 1 “Speed of Eating ‘Key to Obesity’”, BBC News (October 2008), http://


Audience As mentioned in the previous section, this project seeks to contribute as a tool to improve wellness and balance by inducing healthier eating habits addressing the problem of speed eating and increasing food enjoyment. Through preliminary research, the initial target market was defined as a young audience that 1) was interested in food; 2) was interested in acquiring healthier eating habits; 3) was comfortable using technology; and, 4) was used or interested in using information for the purpose of making their lives easier and better. This initial audience definition was adjusted throughout the design and research process. Other characteristics identified for the target market included: individuals that live in big and fast-paced cities, that work, study, and are constantly multitasking; and, individuals constantly distracted by their email, phone or friends. An analysis of this target group revealed a common factor in their relationship with food. Specifically, the way and speed they eat. For example, individuals living in big cities that require a long commute are, in general, forced to drive large distances, and are characterized by a common behavior of eating while driving. There are stories of people eating a whole pizza pie while driving without even noticing and sometimes finding themselves to be still very hungry. These are the types of behavior or individuals that this project intends to tackle: the fast eaters, the multitasking mindless eaters, Zoned-Out Mindless eaters and Emotional Mindless Eaters. 2

2 Susan Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, (Oakland: New Harbinger Publications Inc, 2008), 50.


Initial Explorations Throughout this thesis work I explored different ideas that originated from different definitions of the problem and the intended solutions. They were all conceptualized using the design process. Following this process I conducted research which allowed me to gather insights. The design process also served as a tool to organize my ideas and be able to come up with valuable solutions. In the initial stage of the process, after deciding to continue working with the nutrition and wellness subject matter, I still did not have a clear idea of what the solution could be like. Was it an app or a website or an object or perhaps a service? This was a crucial moment for the project since it would determine the course of action. Therefore, I began a brainstorming exercise. This was an important tool to use since it could help me get started on something. The following subsections describe two of the initial ideas. They constituted just hypotheses, and even though a solution was proposed, no in-depth research was conducted in this stage. Idea 1 As mentioned before, the initial problem definition addressed the issue of food transparency and the major concerns related to nutrition. When considering this problematic, my initial solution focused on a family’s nutritional gatekeeper3 that wanted to feed their families with healthy, natural, and environmentally responsible food products. As a result, this idea was thought as a service that provided users with relevant information that served as a decision support system for these consumers as they shopped. The service included a redesign of the products’ labeling system complemented with a mobile application and a web based service. While developing this idea and conducting further research I realized that the concept was still too vague. This was confirmed by a set of interviews 3 Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating, (New York: Randome House Publishing Group, 2006), 163.


and surveys that were conducted. Specifically, I discovered that people where not interested in some of the data about transparency I had initially assumed to be important. On the other hand, results showed that location and price were important buying decision factors. In addition, the analysis of the survey answers revealed that people were interested in food and balance, and although their lives were hectic at times, they were always looking for moments of joy and for themselves. Another important result was the survey receptiveness from a group age between 20 and 35 years old. Idea2 For a second idea, I wanted to explore the labeling system. Specifically, I wanted to identify the type of information that should be displayed and also its utility. The research conducted showed that the actual information displayed included calories, sodium, fat, sugar and other contents. While providing a good glance of the components of the product, they were not really telling the whole story about where the food was coming from, something that seemed important to people. For this idea, the basic hypothesis considered that people would be interested in knowing more about the back story of where food comes from, because it could be a proxy for how natural the product was. My design solution idea consisted in digital and mobile products that allowed users to trace a food product’s supply chain. This could provide insights to questions such as where did the food come from, how far did it travel, what techniques were practiced, who were the people involved in the process, what was in season and what was not. Furthermore, the idea of connecting buyers that would allow them to share comments or suggestions about a product sounded interesting.

Initial Explorations-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

As it can be seen, the problem definition was still too broad; it was involving too many problems. The research process continued in order to define and narrow-down the problem and to propose a sound solution. Although, I’m just portraying two of the ideas that were discarded, improving and iterating on them helped me get to a final solution. Several of the changes done in the year can bee seen in the text that follows:


1. I’m making a service/product that helps in the food consumption decision process, to be used by young individuals and solve the problems of bad eating habits and the lack of transparency in the food system. 2. I’m designing a decision support service that visualizes meaningful information and guides people to buy the“best food product” To be used by shoppers between the ages of 26 to 45 and solve the problems of the lack of transparency in the food system.

3. I’m designing a tool to help people improve their eating and shopping habits by providing information to encourage food appreciation, food literacy and mindful meals; be used by single young adults and solve the problems of unaware and mindless eating.

4. I’m designing a tool that allows users to describe, report and discover sensorial and behavioral cues during meal times to be used by fast and solo eaters and encourage food appreciation during slow paced and mindful meals.

Review Throughout the project and design process, I was constantly performing market and background research in the domain of interest. Initially, my research subject was very broad and focused more on transparency in the food system; at the end, the interest was mostly about mindfulness and enjoyment during meals. Therefore, the review of projects and books here referenced also show the evolution of my problem ideas. While doing research in the transparency subject, I found services and products that focused on my solution objectives. Examples include:

• BAAcode is a service that provides meta-data about a product. Icebreaker, the creators of the service, had recognized the importance of providing enough information about products and how this extra information creates new value propositions for customers.4 • Footprint Chronicles by Patagonia5 , is a similar service where corporate transparency also plays an important role in how the brand sells to its customers. • Mobile food collective is a group of people that travel with mobile structures that allow them to gather people around tables to eat food, discuss about food and their passions.6 • Good guide, a database and iPhone app that allows users to search for greener, healthier and socially responsible products available in the market.7 My research also involved books and movies, these included: Fast food nation; The omnivore’s dilemma; Food Inc; The Future of Food; and, We feed The World. In essence, all 4 Warren McLaren,“Icebreaker Launches Baacode Product Traceability for Merino Wool”, Treehugger (August 2009), http://www.treehugger. com/files/2008/08/icebreaker-launches-baacode-product-traceability.php. 5 “The Footprint Chronicles”, Patagonia, us/footprint/index.jsp). 6 “The Mobile Food Collective: Making Food Personal Again, Mobile Food Collective, 7 “About us”, Good Guide,


these pieces are meant to open the eyes of the consumers and try to change the American food consumption habits. I also found projects developed by students that have tried to address similar problems. Examples include: • “EnablingNutrition - Aware Cooking in a smart kitchen”, this project scrutinizes nutrition through the creation of a smart kitchen that promotes healthy cooking in households.8 • FitWits, a collaborative research project designed by Carnegie Mellon University and UPMC Saint Margaret Health Care Centers. The program creates and integrates resources for healthy living at the intersection of families, schools, and community health services.9 • A project focused on the topic of Nutrition has also been developed at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. The service revolves around an object called Savût (a dialectal word that means know-all). This object stands in the kitchen and tracks your food. Based on what you have in the fridge, it provides you with daily recipes or suggestions for what to buy when you are shopping. It reacts in different ways depending on your behavior around food, trying to make you aware of your choices. The product also provides with advice on what to buy if the fridge is empty and even match what is available with the ingredients of a friend’s kitchen allowing to plan a spontaneous dinner party.10 As it can be seen, there were already advances around the topic of food transparency which provided valuable information to my process of problem definition. As my problem space shifted from transparency into mindfulness I started looking into books that were more associated to this specific subject. The first book I used for reference was Eat, Drink and be Mind8 Pei-Yu Chi, “Enabling Calorie-Aware Cooking in a Smart Kitchen”, National Taiwan University (June 2008), thesis08_peggychi_oral.pdf. 9 “What is Fit Wits?”, Fitwits, 10 Martina Pagura, “Savut”, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (2009),

Review-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

ful by Susan Albers. This book presents solutions for people struggling in their relationship with food, it provides guidelines, exercises and tips for extreme dieters, people that struggle with weight and for anyone that has the desire to improve their eating habits. Additionally, Eating the Moment by Pavel G. Somov, also touches on similar points as the previous book. This book clarifies the difference between knowledge and mindfulness by pointing out that knowledge is informational awareness and mindfulness is experiential awareness.11 It recommends constant reflection and auto evaluation to understand the reasons why we eat and how those reasons could change if we understand what is happening in our bodies and minds. The next book I explored was Why French Women Don’t get fat, by Mireille Giuliano, as an inspiration and reference. At this point, I had already initiated the process of developing my product to address the problem of speed eating and lack of food enjoyment, Slow Eats. A pair of books, the Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg and The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, helped me find a concrete solution and populate the application with valuable information for the user. There were other resources, such as the Slow Food Movement, which criticizes “fast paced lives” and encourages people to eat locally, slow and enjoy what its grown around them.12 Being a unique and focused niche, I was surprised to find products trying to solve the same problem. The knifefork-lift, a quirky set of utensils that have weights to remind us that every single bite of food that goes into our mouth has to be worked out with exercise if you want it to be out of your system.13 The Mandometer, a clinical treatment and product 11 Pavel G. Somov, Eating the Moment, (Oakland: New Harbinger Publications Inc, 2008), 11. 12 “Slow Food Manifesto”, Slow Food, about_us/eng/manifesto.lasso. 13 FitSugar, Knife and Fork Lift: Cool or Not?, FitSugar (August 2010),


designed for people suffering eating disorders. The product teaches patients how to eat and recognize hunger and satiety with the help of a small computer device that receives information from a small scale beneath the patient’s plate of food. A secondary component of the system allows the patients to see a rate of eating displayed on a screen, which compares the actual rate to the normal rate they should be eating at. The patient gradually learns how to adjust and model his behavior to a normal one.14 15Tweet what you eat, was another example of a service that intends to help people modify their behavior towards food. The service provides a user with a component to keep track of what he eats and as he enters it, it tweets it, letting other people know how often and what he is eating. This is an example where the behavior change model of involving a community to observe your behavior creates a fear of acceptance or criticism. All these references contributed to the development of Slow Eats. The following section describes the user research process, important to fine tune my audience definition and improve the application design.

14 “Plate weighing device ‘can curb child obesity’”, BBC News (January 2010), 15 “The Mandometer Treatment”, Mandometer, en/Our-treatment/The-Mandometer-method/1.aspx.

User Research


Observations, Surveys, Interviews In parallel with the problem definition, initial explorations and review processes, I conducted user research. This phase of the research was characterized by field studies in supermarkets and farmer’s markets (e.g., food emporium, whole foods, trader Joe’s, union square farmer’s market) conducting interviews and the creation of an exploratory survey. This survey would allow narrowing down the target market. For the interviews, I contacted friends for in person or phone interviews, as well as short interviews at the field. For the survey, I created a list of high level questions such as: how is the decision making process when buying food products?; Who is involved?; What data about food products is important and relevant for consumers?; How can information be displayed and consolidated into a shopping experience for this to be understood and digested?; What medium and technology can be used to create a decision support system for shoppers?; and, What other products and services are being used for this purpose? The electronic survey was distributed through Facebook. In addition, a printed form of the questionnaire was used for in person surveys when conducting interviews. A section of the survey is shown in the next figure.

Figure 1. Online Survey

Review-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


Findings The analysis of the survey results and interview responses showed that: • Price and location of the marketplace are important factors when deciding what and where to shop for food. • People care more about the freshness and taste of a product rather than information about the procedures or practices a company or a person followed when producing/growing the food. • People have full schedules and are running all the time from work to home. The preferences on food they shop and cook are made depending on how convenient they are for them. At this point the research was guiding me to focus on a project that assisted people during the shopping experience by providing some type of information. This was something I wasn’t aiming for, wasn’t interested in and was still very broad. Having realized that the shift the project had taken, I decided to go back to my initial proposal which stated that my goal was to provide a way to help people make better decisions (healthier) regarding what to eat. It came to my mind, that I had never asked people what did healthy eating or healthy habits meant to them. Therefore, I talked to people and with the responses I got from them I formulated 4 main categories of how people interpreted healthy habits or healthy eating”. The four categories are explained in the continuing sketches:

Figure 2. The counter: counts calories, measures portions to keep on shape or loose weight. Healthy means anything that keeps the weight balanced.

Figure 3. The epicure: spends time enjoying food, loves cooking and grocery shopping. Healthy means being able to enjoying meals.

Figure 4. The mindless-eater: eats in front of her computer, does not plan meals, eats junk or whatever is around.

Figure 5. Sustainable Geek: Is interested in where his food came from and the processes it took to produce or raise what he eats. It’s all about organic food for him.

introduction-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

After this exercise, two behaviors were identified as the inspiration for the rest of the project. The purpose of the project would be helping people go from MINDLESS EATING behavior to MINDFUL EATING one. Having figured out what I wanted to do, I created an inventory of opportunities to determine what were the moments I wanted my product to live in and what was currently happening in those moments. Consequently, I decided to lay out the moments were people had interactions and related themselves with food. These were, shopping, pre-meal (preparation, ordering, recipe finding, etc), during meal, post-meal and downtime.

Figure 5. Food Relationship Moments


Evolution Prototyping and Ideation Finding scientific and psychological research on the subject I have been studying was the next step to take in the design process. This part of the research, would serve as support my primary research findings. The book “Eat, Drink and be Mindfull” by Susan Albers, was one of the resources I found. It talks about food enjoyment and the problem of people having difficulties with finding ways to give the proper amount of attention to their relationship with food.16 Other examples of books that were used for inspiration and reference were, Eating the Moment by Pavel G. Somov Ph.D and Why French Women don’t get fat by Mireille Guiliano. Reading these, helped in analyzing the concept from a different perspective.


Consequently, various ideas were sketched and two of them were chosen for a prototyping exercise. The first concept was concentrated on providing a solution around the shopping and pre-meal experience (preparation). This idea was called “The Food Meta-Data information delivery platform”; a system that delivers information to shoppers and consumers of a food product through QR codes embedded in the packaging of products. Figure 6 and 7, illustrate how the idea was envisioned to work as a system and interact with the user.

Simultaneously, several solutions came up: 1. A quote in Eat, Drink and be mindful mentioned that a mindful meal was one that people pay attention to it, to what they are eating, to what they are feeling and enjoy it. Mindful eating is not about feeling starved or overstuffed.17 This notion was an inspiration for the ideas that came along, all related to the relationships points that were previously created. The terms mindless eater had to be adjusted, to describe a behavior rather than a “persona”. Mindlessness is a behavior that can be present at any moment and can be experienced by any person. Having that distinction clear the purpose was altered and now stated the following:

Figure 6. This figure shows how the service would be used during the shopping experience.

“I am creating a tool to help improve people’s eating and shopping habits by providing information to encourage food appreciation, food literacy and mindful meals.” 16 17

Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, back cover. Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, 45.

Figure 7. This figure shows how the service would be used during the premeal/at home experience.

Evolution-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


In the exercise of communicating this idea, the service was prototyped using an egg box and embedding a homemade QR code with meta-information about the egg, as you can see in figures No. 8 and 9. The message embedded was from Alton Brown’s Good Eats TV show: “The different grades of eggs are: Double-A eggs, A-Grade eggs and B-Grade eggs. Double-A eggs are your freshest eggs. The white is more firm, stands up when broken out the yolk is rounder. The main difference between Double-A and A it’s mainly age. A-Grade is just a little older. B-Grade eggs are good and clean on the outside but the yolk is easily spread when you put it in a pan or plate .”

Figure 8. Prototype 1 with QR code

Figure 9. Prototype 2 with QR code

Building an experienced prototype exposed some of the flaws in the idea. An example was the delivery of information via videos. Additionally, the concept was not focusing on a specific type of information to deliver. The interaction with the QR code at the supermarket had an appeal to the audience, but the value of the concept was still debatable. Consequently, a second idea was prototyped.

ness during meals through exploring senses and a personal data meal tracking tool to record information about a meal and the experience around it. The first component of the system had the intention to impact the shopping experience. By providing a shopping list application with a recommendation engine that provided tips on seasonable products and variety, the user will be able to eat healthier and increase the diversity of the foods he was eating. People interviewed during the primary research stage mentioned that one of the ways to be healthy and do things fast was by having a pre-set shopping list and menu. Following this insight, the application was envisioned to be complemented by a web based platform that would recommend menus and recipes with the products you had entered and checked on your shopping list. By providing a concrete roadmap of what to buy, and what to prepare the product would be helping the user in augmenting their mindfulness. As the book Eat, Drink and Be Mindful explains creating lists helps people stick to them and reduce the purchases in store that are just done because of cravings that mindless eating provokes.18 18

Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, 129-130.

2. The second idea, called “The modular food appreciation system”, is a service composed of different modules to help users be more mindful about the food they eat, by providing, a tool for shopping and menu planning, a tool to develop awareFigure 10. This figure displays the use of the first part of the Modular Food Appreciation System.

Evolution-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

The second component of the system was called the Mindful Bite App. When using this module, the user will report what he was experiencing in terms of sensations while eating. Concurrently, the system will provide feedback to further inform his experience. By self-reporting on a particular sensorial property of food the mind has to slow down to be able to recognize and discern from the different characteristics present in the food. According to secondary research, this technique is successful because it allows the person to slow down and when slowing down people chew and swallow slowly enough to recognize, spices, temperatures, textures and flavors. When people take time to do this exercise they enjoy food more and are more aware of the food choices they make.19 As you can see in figure11, the prototype was done by creating meal cards that provided information about different characteristics of food. The first card, provided pairing options to enhance the flavors of beef. Second, there was the flavor profile a card, which listed words that helped the user evaluate the sensations felt while eating. With this card, the prototype tested if having sensations to look for during the meal experience would help people slow down and be more conscious of the food. The third was a fun fact. It showed the diagram of a cow, by displaying the divisions and cuts that we usually eat. The diagram was presenting what part were you eating and also pointing out the location of the best steaks. Part of the prototype was using these cards in the meal experience. As a result, the testers were not affected before they began eating. When they read more of the information in the cards, they seemed to look more at the food. They also mentioned, they were thinking more about the animal than at any other meal. The testers said they had to chew slowly to be able to respond to the card, and think through what they were experiencing. As a result, of this exercise I thought it would be interesting to check an option and get it’s description and the reason to why it tastes this way, for example if someone would check the “metallic” option it would display some information


Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, 73.


like: “Metallic taste is attributed to high myoglobin and hemoglobin contents since these proteins release iron during cooking. Increased hemoglobin may also be caused by improper blood removal during processing. This off flavor may be reduced by cooking beef to a lower degree of doneness.”20 The pairing card was interesting but wasn’t as helpful to become more 20 “Beef flavors questions and answers”, Beef Flavor Fundamentals, Beef U, BeefFlavorFundamentals.pdf

Figure 11. Protoype of Mindful Bite

Figure 12. Mindful Bite Application Concept Sketch

Evolution-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


aware of what you are eating. The last component of the modular appreciation system was a food and behaviors diary. According to the research, a great way to raise awareness of your eating habits is writing down what you are eating.21 This part of the tool will allow the user to self-report on the time spent eating, the food that was eaten and the feelings that were experienced. Additionally, raise awareness in the down-time (after eating) part of process.


Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, 65.

Figure 13. Modular Food Appreciation System User Journey

Figure 13. Food Journal Concept Sketch

Evolution-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

Final Concept By the end of the second semester, the thesis proposal had been redefined a couple times. The sketches, readings, research and prototyping that was done helped in creating a final concept that was defined as follows: “I’m designing a tool that allows users to describe, report and discover sensorial and behavioral cues during meal times, to be used by fast and solo eaters, to encourage food appreciation during slow paced and mindful meals.” The proposed solution is a reaction to a stated problem that concerns a great portion of our young population. Today, everyone lives in a rush, from school, to work, to eating, to sleeping. People don’t spend time or concentrate on one activity since their minds are all over the place thinking what’s next. This rush pace is translated into the eating experience, which means that people are eating faster. When people eat fast they don’t give time to their bodies to sense if they’ve had enough to eat, thus they continue eating without even noticing they’re body is full. “Wolfing down meals may be enough to nearly double a person’s risk of being overweight, Japanese research suggests.” Scientists at Osaka University have studied the eating habits of thousands of people and have reported as part of their findings that slowing down at mealtimes may impact on weight. Rushed meals may interfere with a signaling system that tells the brain when to stop eating.22 Additionally, slow paced meals allow for the proper savoring and enjoyment of food a characteristic essential to have a refined palate and to make better choices on deciding what to eat.23 Though the concept was defined there were still some compo22 “Speed of Eating ‘Key to Obesity’”, BBC News (October 2008), http:// 23 Albers, Eat, Drink and be Mindful, 68.


nents of the system that needed to be specified for the project to continue. Some of these were, the information that the app was providing, the correct flow of information, a proper delivery method and the interaction principles. Several actions followed, which helped further defined these details. Possible data to be provided about food and a meal experience was listed. The terms in the list were rated in to guarantee the importance and the role they had in the system. The sensorial qualities of food, which are appearance, aroma, texture, flavor and temperature, where the ones rated the highest and therefore, became the core information and concept for the application. The sensorial qualities of food where not only interesting because they required the user slowing down to be able to engage into this type of experience but was also a fun way of engaging with people that are interested in becoming foodies.

Figure 14. Final Concept Wireframe

Requirements The mode of use and its context were essential to define the design and interaction principles of the product. The context limits the use of hands, as the person will be eating as he uses the product. The design would also have to be passive and allow the user to concentrate on the meal rather than on the UI. Research on non-touch interactions was conducted and technologies such as Siri for voice recognition and Eyesight (A gesture recognition technology that can be integrated as part of a device’s software stack or as low as the camera sensor silicon level to control certain commands of tablet applications24) for gesture recognition were found. The second option seemed to be a better approach for this project. It could be used as a second manipulation option for those moments were the hands could be full. Integrating this technology in the development of the application would solve the problem of the limited use of hands. The UI design had to follow the function of using both gestural and touch commands. For the purpose of sketching and ideating, the use case was organized in three parts: Setup/pre-meal, eating and postmeal. The first segment was envisioned to be the part were the user would identify the food and ingredients in the plate and report on the level of hunger. Consequently, the user would be able to report and acknowledge his experience and the system will provide a feedback in reaction to his input. In the post-meal, the system will provoke the user, once again to rate his fullness and give him feedback on the time it took to complete the meal. To communicate the concept, several screens and a user journey, were created. In addition, there were thoughts on how the system will work and its business strategy. Both displayed in the continuing images. The business strategy was visualized using the business canvas model from the book ‘Business Model Generation’ by Dr Alexander Oesterwalder.




Figure 15. Final Concept User Journey

Requirements-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

Figure 16. System Map

Figure 17. Business Model


Features and UI sketching As a result of the design requirements, different UI configurations that fitted the purpose of the concept and followed the design guidelines, were sketched. Consequently, a features definition document was created, as it can be seen in figure 19. At first, multiple components were listed and then prioritized. The prioritization made, was mostly about content, with the idea that the main part of the concept would be based on analysis of the sensorial properties of food. Analyzing the sensorial properties of food not only allows people to enjoy food more, but also helps refine the palate of individuals so they can make better choices regarding what to eat. By constantly analyzing food, the person slows down while eating.

Figure 18. Features Matrix

Requirements-Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

Now that the core of the app was the defined it was easier to begin visualizing how the final product will look like. The following images show some of the first sketches that helped in structuring the function and aesthetics of the product.


Wireframes The first wireframes were a continuation of the previous sketches. The UI features listed were integrated into the design. After evaluating them, the interaction principles were not clear. The use of the time line was not easy to understand; it looked like a progress bar and wasn’t making sense for the user. Additionally, the mode of use was set by the system. The application will provoke the user with one term at a time, and with a speed controlled by the system. For the next round a different mode of use was considered. This time the user could control how long would he stay on each of the terms and control the timing of the experience.

Figure 23. Wireframes 1.1

Figure 19, 20, 21, 22. Initial Sketches

Requirements -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

Figure 24. Wireframes 1.2


Wireframes II The next set of wireframes was changed after comparing the previous ones with the design guidelines set up. This wireframes were more aligned with the story formulated for the purpose of creating a communication strategy. A mood board was created to conceptually and visually guide the next version. During this round, the previous design was not evidencing the design principles, which were mindfulness, awareness, enjoyment and slow tempo. Since, the purpose was concentrating on the meal and it’s sensorial properties the design had to follow that function and help the user change their behavior. Therefore, there is a more minimalistic approach to design of the user interface. Other components considered at this stage, were the way to provide feedback to the user every time he chose a term. A bucket of the collected terms was created to provide the user with a place to view what he had chosen. The navigation between the modes, aroma, texture and flavor, still were unintuitive.

Figure 25. Wireframes 1.3

Figure 26. Moodboard

Requirements -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


Figure 27. Wireframes 2.1

Figure 29. Wireframes 2.3

Figure 28. Wireframes 2.2

Figure 30. Wireframes 2.4

Requirements -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


The next step was adding a visual layer to the wireframes. The first thing was applying a color scheme that followed the guidelines determined previously in the mood board.

Figure 35. Wireframes 3.5 Figure 31. Wireframes 3.1

Figure 32. Wireframes 3.2

Figure 33. Wireframes 3.3

Figure 34. Wireframes 3.4

Figure 36. Wireframes 3.6

Requirements -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


After getting feedback, the UI design went into an even more minimal direction. Following the mindfulness concept the terms will still be presented as single cards, but now the whole real state of the screen will be used by this and all of the other interactions will happen by manipulating icons in the card. The navigation problem was solved, since the same flow of the app will first provide cards for aroma, which would be tagged by the word aroma or an icon. Following, the ones for texture and at last, the ones for flavor. By touching the icons on the card the user will be able to get a definition of the word, an explanation relevant to the term and the ingredient. The style changed drastically;the branding created now influenced the design, as you can see in the following images.

Figure 38. Wireframes 4.2

Figure 37. Wireframes 4.1

Figure 39. Wireframes 4.3



Coming up with a complete solution helped improve the story that was going to be communicated to a possible audience. Various names were tried before a final one. Gourmandiz, Foodsie, Savour and Sabor all preceeded Slow Eats which ended up being the final one. The name was communicating the concepts the story and brand wanted to convey. Slow, tempo, fresh, clean and simple. The mood-board was the first step towards building the brand, although as the wireframes evolved the visuals did too. Additionally I worked on a short and long pitch, which would explain the what, why, how and for who. Short Pitch: Slow Eats is a tablet application that helps speed eaters slow down and savor food. By teaching you to eat slower, it helps refine your palate, making you conscious of the flavors, aromas and textures in your meals. Eating slowly prevents overeating and allows for proper savoring of the food. Slow eats, motivates the eater to reflect, self report and visualize their progress over time as they become more conscious eaters. Long Pitch: Slow Eats is a tablet application that helps speed eaters slow down and savor food. By teaching you to eat slower, it helps refine your palate, making you conscious of the flavors, aromas and textures in your meal. Why? • Slowing down helps users eat less, since the brain has time to process the signals from the body, communicating that you’ve had enough to eat.25 25 Kristie Leong, “Speed-Eating: Is Eating Too Fast Making You Fat?”, Associated Content (September 2010),

• Slowing down at mealtimes might impact on weight. • Slow paced meals allow for proper savoring of foods and ingredients present in your table. • When you really taste the food in your meals, you enjoy the food much more and make better decisions regarding what to eat. • Slowing down allows for a better digestion process. • Tasting and slowing down, enlarges the flavor libraries of people that are not used to taste, since they eat too fast. • It is not just fast food, its eating fast that may underlie the obesity epidemic. • Mindful eating is less about what you eat (healthy or junk foods) and more about the way you eat. • Slowing down will make us happier, healthier and more effective in everything we do. How? The system allows the user to reflect and self-report on his behavior around the meal, With the use of a touch based interactions - and an optional gesture (hand) control based interactions, for those moments when the user finds himself with the hands full or dirty. Slow Eats prompts the user to report the ingredients of their meal and analyze its sensorial properties. Additionally, it provides feedback which helps users notice and make relationships between the cooking methods, the natural dimension of food, it’s history, the place where it came fromand it’s sensorial properties.

Story -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis


Experience Prototype To be able to tell the story during the presentation and for any audience an experience prototype video was created. This one would tell the story, introduce some of the features and important concepts that make up the app. Presented below is an example of the many storyboards created as part of the video pre-production process.

Figure 40. Storyboard 1.1

Figure 41. Storyboard 1.2

Final Designs The final designs were a follow up of the previous wireframes. There were some new features added, such as the “chew timer”, a progress bar at the bottom of the screen that allows the user to know how much time he should be spending analyzing each of the terms. The tips were integrated with the timer as a reward system that provides extra information to the user only if they wait the time the app is suggesting. I went back to the idea that the system has it’s own flow and terms come into the screen as the user eats. He can decide to alter the flow by moving back and forth as he wants through terms. The user can also exit at any time by dragging the card to the right corner of the screen. The following images display what the final designs look like. The design of the product pretends to amplify the 3 main purposes that justify the use of the app. These are, slowing down while eating, be mindful about food and meals, and enjoy food more. When slowing down, people eat less because they feel fuller faster, are healthier since slowing down helps improving the digestion process. Additionally, slowing down allows for the proper savoring of food and ingredients. The “chew timer” and the arrangement of terms are intentionally placed and design to enhance the slowing down behavior in the user. The discovery effort provoked by the terms, facilitate the action of slowing down. On the other hand, design decisions were also made to help the user become more mindful of the experience. The user can be more aware of his eating habits since the application records what his meals were and the user can look back to see how his behavior has changed and determine if he has become more healthy and sophisticated with the use of the app. The design of the app is very minimalistic and presents a term at a time, reinforcing the idea of mindfulness. A structured experience allows the user to analyze each ingredient by first aroma, then texture and flavor. The time tracking system provided, by the application, augments the mindfulness of the user, by pro


viding a comparison and analytical chart of his improvement over time. Enjoyment is another important concept that was considered when designing the application. It is enhanced by the integration of the tips as rewards, which provide information on how to make food taste better. The discovery process of the ingredients and sensations the application supplies makes the experience more enjoyable. Additionally, as the user engages with the application for more time, his palate becomes more refined and can make more savory and healthy decisions. The design intends to help users eat at a slower pace, become more mindful about their food and enjoy it. The design decisions that were made were all influenced by the mode of use and the main purposes of the application.

Figure 42. FInal Wireframes 1.1

Final Designs -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

Figure 43. FInal Wireframes 1.2

Figure 45. FInal Wireframes 1.3


Figure 44. FInal Wireframes 1.4

Figure 46. FInal Wireframes 1.5

Final Designs -Slow Eats- Interaction Design Thesis

Figure 47. FInal Wireframes 1.6

Figure 48. FInal Wireframes 1.7


Figure 49. FInal Wireframes 1.8

References 1. Albers, Susan. Eat Drink and be Mindful. Oakland: New Harbinger, 2008. 2. Beef U. “Beef flavors questions and answers”. http://www. BeefFlavorFundamentals.pdf. 3. Chi, Pei-Yu. “Enabling Calorie-Aware Cooking in a Smart Kitchen”. oral.pdf, 2008. 4. EyeSight. 5. FitSugar. “Knife and Fork Lift: Cool or Not?”. http://www., 2010. 6. Fitwits .“What is Fit Wits?”. 7. Giuliano, Mireille. French Women Don’t get Fat. New York: Random House, 2005.


12. McLaren, Warren. “Icebreaker Launches Baacode Produc Traceability for Merino Wool”. files/2008/08/icebreaker-launches-baacode-product-traceability.php, 2008. 13. Mobile Food Collective. The Mobile Food Collective: Making Food Personal Again”. http://mobilefoodcollective.wordpress. com/history/. 14. News, BBC. “Plate weighing device ‘can curb child obesity’”., 2010 15. News, BBC. “Speed Eating ‘Key to Obesity’”. http:// news. 2008 16. Patagonia. “The Footprint Chronicles”. 17. Pagura, Martina .“Savut”. idp09/final-projects/savut/, 2009.

8. Good Guide. “About Us”.

18. Segnit, Nikki. The Flavor Thesaurus. New York: Bloomsburry, 2010.

9. Heath, Chip and Dan Heath. Switch:How to Change Things When Change is Hard. New York: Randome House, 2010

19. Slow Food. “Slow Food Manifesto”. http://www.slowfood. com/about_us/eng/manifesto.lasso.

10. Leong, Kristie. “Speed-Eating: Is Eating Too Fast Making You Fat?”. speedeating_is_eating_too_fast_making.html?cat=51, 2010

20. Somov G, Pavel. Eating the Moment. Oakland: New Harbinger, 2008.

11. Mandometer .“The Mandometer Treatment” http://www.

21. Wansink, Brian. Mindless Eating. New York: Randome House, 2006

Thesis Book  
Thesis Book  

Process Book of SVA IXD Thesis Project