Energy is the theme of the course this year. On a scientific note, this brought to light critical questions of sustainability and how may we design technology that brings awareness of energy and our consumption of it. To that, the goal of this course can be narrowed down into the task: Develop an AR application for the smartphone using prototyping tools of choice, to make people aware of energy and energy consumption.
However, our interaction with energy can be perceived in alternative forms, perhaps even on a more spiritual point of view that considers self-awareness reflections of our inner aura and how it translates into our physical actions and reality. This brings us to how our group got into our approach to the course proposal.
Our approach takes a turn into the direction of alternative energy. In our reflection of what energy is, we were most interested at the excessive and wasteful energy that goes into creating and maintaining one’s digital persona. Although the digital world may glorify the idea of anonymity and your chances of being whatever you may want to be, this idea can be taken both ways. It can encourage you to truly be yourself, against all the boundaries of the social norms, but on the other hand, it may also persuade deception and manipulation, like faking an identity and setting unrealistic goals to the masses, etc. Of course, this manipulative course doesn’t come to us naturally, it takes time and energy, to an unnecessarily overwhelming extent.

We are linked with hundreds of people. We are always online, always connected. We share our stories, post photos and express our joy through messages. All this demands a lot from us. The energy we spend on each message is huge. And how much more do we waste to please others? How much effort do we have to confirm the sincerity of them? In a time when it is so easy to hide our emotions behind the display, we long for humanity. We want real feelings, with all their beautiful and tragic qualities.
With Facelift we try to bring that back. By revealing one's own emotions, Facelift interprets and composes a suitable answer. An answer that reflects your own feelings. Showing emotions, even if faked, contributes significantly to the general state of mind. Just by imitating a smile, it signals happiness to the brain and even if the feeling was faked in the beginning, you will feel better in the end. We want to make it normal to show your joys and displeasure. We want to break out of a uniform society in which one does not show weakness, in which one must not be conspicuous. Emotions are part of life, let's stop censoring them.

Research and Ideation.

As we further into our research, we prioritized finding out in what ways people are afforded to be deceptive on the digital world. We figured that this is afforded on plenty platforms that encourage content creation. Meaning wherever there is an oppoprtunity for users to set out their own content freely and without restriction, is when people are most deceptive or less genuine to their humane character — often times only portraying the “good” online, very rarely the struggle that goes behind the production of the content. To narrow down even further, the types of content that most spread such decieving ideas, is broadcasted either through photos (visual) and or through texts. Having these options in various different platforms and medium, we thought best to implement our concept on a structural or systematic level; where it is included seamlessly and activated into an operating-system update — This way it acts as a layer on the phone that actively helps your reach true genuinity in your digital presence.

The photo story method helped story telling the concept by visualizing the userflow on the digital layer alongside the reality of the physical interaction.

We asked five people via WhatsApp to answer five questions with a normal text message and a selfi, to see if we find any patterns and to understand how hard it is to answer just with your face.
We also tested the emotion recognition software "Mophcast". The idea was to use this output for our concept. It was very interesting to see that a neutral face is very different on different people. This showed us that you have to personify the app in some way, because the facial emotions can vary from person to person. Out of curiosity we also tested how well emotions can be reached with a mask. We were surprised how good.

We asked five people via WhatsApp to answer five questions with a normal text message and a selfi, to see if we find any patterns and to understand how hard it is to answer just with your face.


//01 SET-UP.

Since our Facelift app should be part of the Apple iOS, we decided to use the same visual language. Facelift is an alternative to the keyboard and is on default activated.
To set up Facelift you have to record different emotions of yourself and save them.


The control should be as simple as possible. Therefore it is very important to have feedback on when the emotions are received and when the message is sent. You can answer by your face expressions, without pressing anything.
As soon as the face is recognized, the gray face turns into a blue one and the conversation can start.


To answer to a message you have to stay with an face emotion for 3 sec and the grey circle turns to a blue circle.


If you change your mind. Change your face.

Embrace all your emotions.

Prof. Jürgen Späth | Florian Bruggisser | Marcial Koch

HS 2020

Zurich University of the Arts
Mobile USer Interface | 5th Semester