Nicola Hume Design

4th year Product Design student at Dundee University. This is a collection of my work, research and inspirations.

Listen Here

Have a look at my product design honours project

2 years ago

even more..

more results

They’re Back!

Started getting the cultural probes back last week which was quite exciting. Out of the 25 I gave out, I’ve got 15 back so far. I’m not too hopeful for getting the others back, I think people will have forgotten about them by now, but still I’m quite happy with 15. 

I’ve loved reading them, people have obviously put a lot of thought in to them. They’re all really interesting and completely different, some are pretty funny and some are just weird (thanks ROBIN). They give really nice, personal perspectives of different cities. I want to go to all the places people have written about! Thanks to everyone who filled one in.

The map above is my favourite out of all of them. Its been marked with loads of places with a wee description beside each. Its like a personalised tourist map. Its made me start thinking about how I could create the same effect through my project. Maybe some sort of exchange of personalised maps between people from different countries? But that would be changing my idea quite dramatically. Keeping things more on track, maybe the person who leaves a device in a location could write their own set of directions to it, to be given to someone visiting that area. Hmmm…more thoughts on this coming soon.

The next few posts will show some of my other favourite/most interesting responses from the probes.

The Ski Lift
An example advert for my business proposal.

The Ski Lift

An example advert for my business proposal.

Cultural Probes

The first two questions I want to answer in order to start refining my idea, are;

What sort of places do people enjoy visiting in their local area?

How might people record and share information about these places?

In order to answer these questions I have created some cultural probes ( a research technique invented by Bill Gaver, Tony Dunne and Elena Pacenti which aim to engage with people and prompt meaningful responses to research than a standard questionnaire or focus group could. 

I created 25 personalised cultural probes, each consisting of a pop out map of the research participants local area, on which they were asked to mark any places that they enjoyed visiting that week. As well as the map, half of the probes contained question cards, asking for more details about these places. The questions included:

  • Which is your favourite place and why?
  • What did you do there?
  • How did you find it?
  • What is the atmosphere like?
  • How do you feel when you are at tis place?
  • Draw a picture of it.
  • Do you think other people would like this place?
  • What does it sound like?

Through these questions I hope t find out what sort of information people like to share about a place, what information is the most valuable and how this might be displayed for others to see.

The other half of the maps simply carried blank cards, so that people had more freedom with the information that they choose to tell me about their favourite places. I hope to get some interesting results from this that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

I hope to get these back from people next week so I’ll post about the results then, I know you can’t wait! 

Phase 1 Project Plan

Phase 1 Project Plan

The value of local knowledge

I also miss my city, where it’s full of life and’s the feeling of being in a place that i was brought up in that makes all the difference - as you know every nook and cranny (or at least you feel like you do).”

 This is a quote from my friend Nora who’s from Hong Kong. Its that love and knowledge of your home city that i want to help people share with visitors.

Decision Time

After 7 long, uncertain weeks, Phase 0 is over and its time to settle on a project to work on for the next 6 months. Although the process of creating and choosing a brief has been an interesting one, I’m looking forward to having a clearer focus, refining my idea and hopefully seeing some progress.

Idea’s Day allowed us to gain opinions and advice about our idea’s in order to help us select the most promising one.

This is some of the feedback I received:

Global Network:


  • Good market potential
  • Could make meetings with people more memorable and meaningful
  • Could be useful for business networking
  • Device could take a voice recording or photo to help you to remember the new contact
  • Useful for allowing people who don’t speak the same language to engage with each other.
  • The information shared could be personalised or altered for different meetings.
  • Nice way of visualising your social network


  • A lot of research would need to be carried out to determine what information about a person would be the most valuable or desirable to share. There would be a risk of it turning in to a research project rather than a design project.
  • The idea is not refined enough
  • What is the point in it?
  • This idea was mainly liked by interaction designers, suggesting that it may not be more successful as a screen based or digital service rather than a product.
  • The system would rely on everyone, everywhere having one of the devices. This is an unrealistic assumption on the products potential success.

Thinks to look at

Guerrilla Tourism


  • Gives tourists more interesting experiences
  • links local people with tourists
  • Could help local people to promote their businesses to tourists
  • Better than a phone app because you actually have to visit the place before you can receive the information about it, putting an emphasis on the journey to get there and making the experience or reaching the device containing the information, more rewarding.
  • A nice interaction, almost like finding a message in a bottle, or a treasure hunt.
  • Devices can be removed by locals if they feel that too many people are visiting it, where as it can be difficult to destroy on line information. Gives local people control.
  • Devices could be hidden at New Designers so that guests can try finding them.
  • a secret society could be created around them so that only trusted, responsible travellers can visit the sites.


  • Local people may not want to share their favourite places with tourists.
  • How would it work? complex technology.
  • What if the devices were stolen or moved?
  • Places may become too busy.
  • Lots of apps and websites already do similar things, how is this unique?

Things to look at…

Heirloom Recipes


  • A nice combination of physical and digital ageing
  • Encapsulates a person
  • Adds value with age
  • It could be a whole set of kitchen tools that carry stories about their use.
  • The online “cloud” could be used to preserve digital data indefinitely.
  • More personal than a recipe book of youtube video.
  • Easy to follow
  • Less expensive than a long distance phone call.


  • Digital ageing, how can the technology last?
  • Similar things have been done before.

Things to look at..

The feedback has been really valuable and has definitely influenced my decision to take forward “Guerrilla tourism” as my final project but ultimately, I chose it because it is the idea which I am most excited about, can see myself working hardest on and look forward to presenting at the degree show and New Designers 2011.