Prototype: Your right hand man

Final Major Project / 9

October 21, 2021

Luchen Peng, Tiana Robison, Jinsong (Sylvester) Liu



At this stage, we have run three versions of workshops and continuously iterated our participatory process. The activities are proofed to generate fruitful discussion, provide inspiring object ideas that materialise the author’s reflection, and reveal limitations simultaneously. For example, we found it challenging to articulate participants’ artwork to the audience. While the object’s ambiguous shape draws people’s attention, they feel more like toys than the actual products and require a lot of imagination.

Our group has discussed two possible directions: making the workshop process an outcome or developing the objects into working prototypes. I want to explore whether functionality and technology can help articulate the objects beyond verbal explanation. Therefore, I spent a week making an Arduino prototype for “your right hand man”.

The slapping interaction in this concept plays an important role. So my goal is to realise the grotesque, absurd punishment in picking up merchandise. After testing with a rubber band and clips, I chose a server motor to drive the slapping hand and connected it to a shelf. Each cell on the shelf contains a hand-made detector at the bottom. When the corresponding item is picked up, the bracelet will slap the back of the wearer’s hand with a “stop sign”.



Prototype testing video

Our classmates and tutors found the machine intriguing to use in the following concept testing. The function worked well in setting an explicit, fun and satirical story: this machine told us what to buy and how to behave. However, it creates more complex connections with the theme of data bias, mainly because audiences need to draw many layers of understanding. People first have to inquire “why does it punish me”, build the linkage between payment data and credit score, and finally reach the social class bias.


Tutors gave opposite feedback on our project. Al considered the workshop to create a beautiful collective dreaming between experts and non-experts, which is an inclusive manifesto. On the other hand, John suggested we could push the prototype further by visualising the explaining.

Tutors gave opposite feedback on our project. Al considered the workshop to create a beautiful collective dreaming between experts and non-experts, which is an inclusive manifesto. On the other hand, John suggested we could push the prototype further by visualising the explaining. In my opinion, this week is a valuable practice for me to explore the “para-function” in critical design. It makes me realise how difficult to achieve reflection evoking in product design, and how little we know about this topic. Could critical object really make their way to the daily lives without solving any problem? I reckon a longer research, maybe combining Dairy Study can mitigate this problem but have a high risk of failing. Or perhaps a simpler concept could reduce the path of approaching reflection.

In the next post, we will explore another prototype.