Profit centered design

At the start of this six months period. A certain technology had to be chosen. I chose to start the project with something that annoys me more every day, user interfaces. First and foremost because our user interfaces are build with profit in mind. The longer we are on our device, the more content we consume. The more content we consume the more profit for the app makers, by for example, ads.

This results in a user interface which is bloated with countless of persuasion tactics to get the user addicted to their device, and/or to nudge them to a desired outcome. One of such extreme examples is, there the desired outcome is you booking a room. They try to pressure the user more to book a room fast by displaying messages like: "There are 4 more people looking at this room right now". Which is supposed to pressure the user to book a room quickly without thinking rational about their purchase. is an obvious example of psychological tricks implemented in UI. However these tricks also exist in a way more subtle level on mobile operating systems. Some are referred to as Dark patterns


Solid is a project initiated by Tim Berners Lee, one of the creators of the internet. Solid enables users to get possesion over their own data by creating a POD (personal online datastore). From this POD, apps can request data. Imagine you want to try a new calendar app. Instead of transferring all your appointments to that new app, you simply can give this new calendar app permission to use your calendar data. This is not only very convenient, it also means that your data is no longer stored at the database of an app. It only exists in your POD, and you are able to revoke permission to your data anytime you want.

Instead of diving too deep in the technology behind solid, I decided to focus more on the user experience of it. It is a nice idea, people owning their own data. However most people don't really care about what happens to their data anyway. And we posess a large amount of data, so how is one ever able to manage it? Sounds like a tedious task, especially with the current form of solid (which is, to be fair, at an early stage). So I gave myself the challenge to create a user interface which enables users to quickly manage their data in a matter of seconds.


The first challange was visualising data, the current form is just a list, however this is not scalable. Try downloading all your google data and see for yourself. I decided to get some inspiration by looking at Avengers Age of Ultron . In this scene you see a visual representation of Jarvis, Tony Stark his AI. I thought it was an interesting visualisation however instead of a 3D interface i decided to create a 2D interface. A 3D interface would just overcomplicate things. Besides, some people are already having a hard time using 2D interfaces. The D3.js library was used to create this sort of visualisation.

The final interface and a visualisation of a small part of my personal data.

I categorized data in three sectors, represented by the circles around the center. The most inward circle is your private data, your inner circle so to speak. The ring around that one, is data which you shared with other people. Everything that is not in one of these circles is public data.


So I have created an interface, but where to put it? I decided to place it into a smart mirror which should be located in a Bathroom. I chose for a smart mirror in a bathroom because that enables to get this process involved in users' morning routine. While the user is brushing his or her teeth he or she is able to take a quick look at the reflection of their digital self. For the Expo of this project I decided to recreate a bathroom together with Ludo Poot.

User Experience

For navigating in the mirror I chose for a gesture based User Interface, powered by a leap motion controller. When the user is in front of the mirror one is able to see what their personal data looks like. If one piece of data has changed that node will be placed outside it's previous circle and the user will be notified. When a user does not agree with a certain change of data, for example a private picture that is being shared, that item can be dragged and dropped into the right circle with the desired level of privacy.