Milestone 1

Page

DECENTRALIZED COGNITION

Scope

The audience for the following concepts involve travelers: those who travel across cultures, spend time among cultures outside of their own, and often encounter new settings, situations, and things. We are interested in how travelers learn about, adapt to, and behave in these unfamiliar environments and how we might augment the experience of learning new concepts.

Motivation

Traveling to an unfamiliar country or culture involves a certain period of acclimation, during which, one learns to navigate the nuances of new cultural behaviors, becomes familiar with new foods, animals, and objects, and adapts to living in a new physical environment. This period of acclimation can be enjoyable for some, and slow, difficult, clumsy, and awkward for others, especially if they are unprepared or not knowledgeable about this new culture.

Observations

Based on collective personal experiences of our team members, all of whom have traveled to different countries outside of their homes, as well as observing and interacting with international students who are acclimating to the American culture, we collected the following observations:

  • acceptable, normative behavior in the new culture is difficult to pick-up and understand — rarely is there a guide available to explain how this new culture might behave differently or similarly with one’s home culture.

  • new cultures involve many new foods. exploring unfamiliar foods can be exciting, as well as risky.

  • people often try to relate newly encountered foods, objects, or situations with other foods, objects or situations familiar to them, in order to create a frame of reference.

  • different cultures use different units of measurement. unit conversion is difficult — this includes money, temperature, volume, length, etc.

  • exploring unknown situations in new cultures can be exciting for some and difficult for others.

Proposed Ideas

  1. Visual indexing of tangible objects

    1. Upon seeing new objects or things, an augmented, visual display could identify the unknown thing to the user.

    2. The visual display could show the user facts and information regarding the new object. For instance, the user might see and learn that “chopsticks” are the most common eating utensil used in Chinese culture.

    3. The augmented display could help the user understand the new object by using heuristics. In other words, by bringing up related information from the user’s past. For instance, if the new object is a whale’s heart (which the user is unfamiliar with), the system could show the user that the size of a whale’s heart is approximately the size of a VW Beetle (which the user IS familiar with).

    4. The user could choose to “remember” and index this newly acquired knowledge for later recall.

  2. Multi-sense recall

    1. A smartphone that can record multi-sense of an object including sight, hearing, touch, smell, and etc.

    2. As these feelings are encoded into the phone, they are related to the same object and can be shared via internet.

    3. Users who recorded this can recall the feeling at any time with his phone. Multiples senses allow him to better review scene.

    4. Other users who have the phone with same app and functions can output those feeling by select the picture related to the object. Therefore, they can have a basic multi-sense understanding of how it feels.

  3. Behavior & action sensing to prompt participatory behavior

    1. When traveling to a new location, it is difficult to participate in and interact with a new and unfamiliar culture, so it is common to slouch into the role of observer.

    2. Without even knowing the language, it is still possible to know how to behave in certain situations and interactions. Furthermore, sometimes it is essential that you behave appropriately, because there can be an element of danger if you do not.

    3. With a heads-up display that draws from an extensive library recognize both culturally specific actions and objects, it can help orient you in an unfamiliar environment and give you cues to encourage participation and action.

    4. It helps cement this new information by comparing the unfamiliar pieces of a different culture to those of your own. For example, comparing a typical greeting in India (“namaste”) to one in the user’s culture, (like, waving in the U.S. or bowing in Japan,) will quickly grant the user an understanding of the behavior and its proper use.

    5. Reducing the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar helps to promote awareness and learning of other cultures, and greater understanding and empathy for them.

    6. Such a device does not merely need to be limited to traveling outside of one’s home country, but could also work internally as well. For example, there are many different subcultures within the U.S., each with their own norms, values and behavior.


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