Reflective piece on Speculative Design Project

Speculative everything

In my opinion, while resolving design problems, designers should always aim to look at the bigger picture and ask additional questions. I think speculative design is one of the design methods that every designer should learn how to perform, especially when trying to tackle big societal issues using design practices and systems.


Anthony Dunne's statement above explains speculative design in the neatest way possible, saying how this methodology should be practiced as there were neither technology or culture limitations, while imagining all the possible outcomes. But still, speculative design is treated as a black sheep, with an excuse that it mirrors disruption and builds concepts around things that don't exist.


On the other side, I look at it in a different way. This project helped me to see the speculative design as a tool which will tickle my brain, help me to think outside the box, and possibly help me to find the hidden, bigger problem waiting to be solved. Also, when we think of a software and its journey from day 1 until the last day, when the product is delivered, it often takes more than 2 years until it is launched. And in 2 years, technology can advance a lot, become more sophisticated, smarter, and more user focused. We should keep those things in mind and think of the benefits and traps that the future can bring.


During this project, I learned how everyone's vision of the future is different. Depending on the experience each one of us in the group had, we had different visions on what is possible and what is plausible, but we managed to find the common language and agree on crucial things, such as the overall solution of the project. It was difficult to deliver all the work when all of us had Christmas holidays and other commitments, but we managed to come up with a high quality video and a website explaining our product. All of this was possible because of Peter's existing knowledge in Google Web Designer (video), and Eoin's in building websites.


Portia Diving Mask


When it comes to the things we could have done better, one example would be to give better instructions on how our hardware works, and possibly even coming up with a prototype we can physically test. This could potentially be a diving mask with a UI we show in a video, which we could test and see how it would feel to actually use a Heads Up Display (HUD) such as this one. Even though we looked into Google Glass design principles, that wasn't enough, as there are more things to consider when designing for HUD such as the amount of the displayed content and how it would work underwater. We could have even shown the full working process of the UI, and how it works when synchronised with a diving computer (i.e. a watch) and an air tank.

Nevertheless, I think we did great work and our ability to work remotely and under pressure turned out to be a great advantage, because in the end we came up with a great product, and if we get any queries about it on our website, we can take the subsequent steps to build it.



Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2014). Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming. S.l.: MIT.

Tran, T. H. (2019, April 8). Speculative design: 3 examples of design fiction. Retrieved January 17, 2020, from https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/speculative-design/

Principles  |  Glass Explorer Edition  |  Google Developers. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2019, from https://developers.google.com/glass/design/principles





Google Drive (materials)

Final Presentation Link

Interim Presentation Link

Figma worksheet

Early stage Freehand link


4 – Reflection

Critical analysis

This project gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into inclusive design and reveal all the various methods we can use to adapt our design to suit all users. It also made me feel eager to create the products designed for the wider audience, products that solve human needs and improve people's lives.



Final prototype - video


I also got the chance to implement the complete design system from scratch. I understood the design patterns and how they can align with people's mental models, with a goal to be understood intuitively. I understood the importance of testing the right audience, and how thinking outside the box (in this case widening the usage of the app to the tablet as well) can lead to a good solution that users will like.

Phone - Tablet
Phone -> Tablet projection

Strengths & Weaknesses

The main strength of this exercise was that it proved how, when design principles are applied accordingly, every challenge and user need can be tackled and resolved. The first step leading to this would be just realising how disabilities can come in more shapes, and how, depending on the context, each person can be in a position of a disabled person. Having that in mind, pointing our design decisions smarter can bring us to deliver the product for a wider audience.

The main weakness in this project was the usability testing, which was extremely difficult to conduct because of the ethics. Even though it was impossible to find a person with dementia, I managed to get a second opinion from the target user group. The interview I did in the nursery home in Leopardstown helped me to emphasise with the carers and to realise and highlight the most and least used functionalities the carers would use in the app.

Other weakness in my case is a too-wide scope, and my stubbornness to make it narrow and focus on less things. Even though I wanted to solve just one problem, more and more challenges appeared and I didn't want to exclude certain functionalities from the app, such as carer help section. Because of the lack of the time, I didn't do a complete drill-down of all the listed categories in the app but the idea should hopefully be clear.

Changes & Future work

Even though this project is finished, I'm still planning to meet Deidre from Irish Dementia Society and have a chat with her about what else can be done in the app to help both carers and patients. I'll try to test my final prototype with her and hopefully get some answers.

Even though I think I need a special ethical approval if I want to test with a person with dementia, I would like to put myself in the challenge and try to find an alternative solution. I have to admit, this project got me interested in helping people with disabilities, and specially after reading a lot about carers and dementia-diagnosed patients, I realised how serious this is and there is not a lot of things that people do to help them.

This app can be used in nursery homes by carers, but also in patients home by carers and patients' family. I wouldn't limit it just on dementia patients, can be used as a help for any type of staff or a family member who handles a patient where the attention and knowledge of patient's routines is needed the most.

3 – Design development & application of design languages


First, I started with the carer UI where I originally had 4 menu categories:

  • Activity (showing the activities patient had when using a tablet (second UI))
  • Diary (containing personal info and patient routines)
  • Admin (place to manage the photos, music and games displayed on the tablet)
  • My Space (space for carer with breathing exercises, calming sounds etc)

Visual Design



The font I chose for this app is sans serif Aspira typeface and components from iOS UI Kit because of their well known, beautiful clear interface.


I read a lot about dementia and carers, but the information I got didn't seem enough. So I decided to contact some nursery homes and have a chat with a carer in a hope they will have answers on some of my questions.

I scheduled an appointment in a nursery home in Leopardstown, and had an interview there with QPSM (Quality and Patient Services Manager). She preferred to stay anonymous.


She gave me some handy advices on how to set the menu and which categories should be prioritised so they can be easily available to the carer. I also got some slides (Nursing Management of Insomnia & R.B) which helped me a lot with content I did in the app. After I did couple of tweaks my prototype looked like this:

Final proto
Click to view the final prototype in Figma



Apple Inc. (n.d.). IOS Human Interface Guidelines. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guidelines/

Aspira Font Family Typeface Story. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://www.fonts.com/font/durotype/aspira/story

Clark, J., & Clark, J. (2017, May 16). Using the Amazon Echo to improve the lives of Alzheimer's patients. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://medium.com/@JaysThoughts/using-the-amazon-echo-to-improve-the-lives-of-alzheimers-patients-f5727560a5eb

Jacobs, S. (2017, November 22). Four Basic Types of Meditation. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://meditationmag.com/how-to-meditate/four-basic-types-of-meditation/

Logan, B. (2016). Caregiver's Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://www.caregiver.org/caregivers-guide-understanding-dementia-behaviors

Health, U. (2013, May 09). What is Dementia? | Dr. David B. Reuben - UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIUEBXt0ako

Levi, A. (2017, January 31). Stressed Out? These 5 Relaxing Images Will Bring You Instant Calm. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://www.health.com/stress/relaxing-images-to-destress

Stein, T. (2018, June 18). 7 Tips for Creating Positive Mental Imagery. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-integrationist/201306/7-tips-creating-positive-mental-imagery

Stevenson, S. (2018, June 11). Dementia Care Dos and Don'ts: Dealing with Dementia. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-02-08-dealing-with-dementia-behavior/

2 – Problem definition

Problem Statements

Problem statement
Problem statement - patient
Jobs-to-be-done version

And there is also a problem statement for a carer / family member:

problem statement
Problem statement - carer

Target users

Having in mind that people with dementia will have difficulties with using an app, I decided to create an app with two interfaces. The users will be:

  • carer / family member
  • patient with diagnosed dementia


The main persona here is Audrey, with diagnosed dementia. Arthur is her husband and Paula is her carer.

Empathy map

Empathy Map
Empathy Map





Customer journey map


Customer journey map
Customer journey map





Entire worksheet available here in Figma.


Agius, A. (2018, December 6). How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map [Examples Template]. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-journey-map

Klement, A. (2019, February 12). The Jobs to be Done Data Model. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://jtbd.info/the-jobs-to-be-done-data-model-b270f6fc445

Fulton, G. (2016, October 26). Making the Web Accessible for Everyone With Inclusive Design and Diverse Personas. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/making-the-web-accessible-for-everyone-with-inclusive-design-and-diverse-personas--cms-27505

Gibbons, S. (2018, January 14). Empathy Mapping: The First Step in Design Thinking. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/empathy-mapping/

Grozny, M. (2018, December 01). 17 reasons to use Storyboards in UX Design. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from https://uxdesign.cc/17-reasons-to-use-a-storyboards-in-ux-design-2bc6fea73e20

Henry, S. L. (n.d.). Accessibility in User-Centered Design: Personas. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from http://uiaccess.com/accessucd/personas.html

How to write in plain English[Pdf]. (n.d.). Plain English Campaign.