Individual Work
Experimental Design
May 2020- August 2020

“Pee mail” Visualization

“Pee mail” Visualization is the miniature of my imaginary utopia where human beings and non-human animals are sharing theird happiness.

I’m dedicated to user-centered design where the “user” doesn’t need to be confined to human beings. This is my favorite project inspired by my walking with my pet dog Mahjong. He is so very obsessed with the invisible marks left by other dogs during the walk, for which I couldn’t enjoy the walk as much as he did since I couldn’t understand the reasons behind his behaviors. I’ve discovered this kind of conflict in other pairs of handler and dog: The handler struggled to drag back the upset dog whose demands of sniffing were interrupted. So why are they this eager for the sniffing?

To address my confusion, I’ve done some literature research on the canines’ communicating principles. It turns out that they contact with each other through urine, which is impossible for human beings to decode. The composition, position and height of their urine can convey the information of their physical characteristics, emotional states and even their social orders. It’s not surprising that the first idea that popped up in my mind is to analyze the smell directly to cater for the urine communication, but the truth is that the existing techiques I’m capable of couldn’t fill the gap between our smelling abilities. Therefore, I wonder how to transform this invisible information into the information flow that is understandable for me to make the walk an enjoyable activity for both of us. Besides, the technology must be affordable for me, which means I’m supposed to take advantage of design thinking on sensory transformation to lower down the threshold of technology.

I’ve never worked on projects involving non-human users, but I don’t want to design another pet products focusing on individual pet or individual owner either. I set my eyes on an ideal community for both of them. Combining the observation I’ve done by myself and the video record from the paper published by the conference of Animal-Computer-Interaction, I categorized his behaviors into three kinds: sniffing, deliberately peeing and peeing over. Then it occurs to me that their urine communication is like our texting, posting and replying on social network. Referring to the Instagram, I realized that cloud storage is suitable for their delaying communication. Therefore, I transformed their smell-related information into time-related and position-related posts stored online. Owing to this technology-driven “Pee mail”, handlers can engage in the friendship of canines to enhance the quality of dog walking, which can be beneficial for their physical and emotional wellbeing and strengthen the bond between them in turn.