Weekly Thesis Post #24

March 29th, 2011

Over the past week, I’ve continued to focus on my prototype. But I’ve also started to switch gears a little bit to move onto some of my other deliverables.


At this point, I’ve reached “feature complete” status for the prototype, with one exception. This means that:

  • No new features will be added, unless absolutely critical.
  • Bugs will be fixed when found.
  • Visual design still needs to be done and implemented.

The one big exception is something that I mentioned last week: Interventions. There’s some basic functionality in place, but at the moment it’s primarily a placeholder. The reason this is not complete is because I’ve paused to work on…


…the branding. I’ve been struggling a little bit in determining what exactly the interventions should be. My advisor suggested that by defining what the brand of Obtract is, I might be able to more easily figure it out. My classmate Colleen Miller helped me out last night by guiding me through a moodboard, and by pointing me to some resources for figuring out colors.

I’m also going to try and get some help from some of the students in the MPS Branding program here at SVA, just upstairs on the 11th floor. So that should be fun! After that, I’ll start working on the visual design of the application.


In the meantime, I’ve started to think more carefully about the interventions. Previously, I had been thinking about things like typing a word in, or entering a passcode. Now, I’m leaning towards different kinds of things.

Basically, I’m looking for activities to act as counter-distractions. The activities need to have qualities including:

  • Simple to understand, or already understood
  • Not (too) fun
  • Scaling well from simple to complex
  • Can involve a social component

Simple games and toys have started to come to mind, including:

  • Moving objects into a box
  • Mazes
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Sorting objects from biggest to smallest
  • Connect the dots
  • Paint by numbers
  • Tangrams

To put it into a scenario: When you become distracted, a dialog box will appear that has maze in it. To dismiss the dialog, you must either switch to a productive task, or you must complete the maze. The more distracted you become, the more difficult the maze will become. Eventually, the maze will become so complex that you get back to work. At certain points, teammates might be required to help you by unlocking a door in the maze so that you can complete it.

I’ll be working on these over the next week along with the visual design. Ideally I can implement 2 or 3 of them for the prototype.