Ruth kikin-Gil://
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My Masters degree thesis : Mediating social relationship through mobile communication within groups of teenage girls
A work in progress. Last updated March 30th 2005
The secret lives of teenagers
The theory behind the design. The social aspects and trends which informed and influenced the design
Making the teenagers part of the design
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design and prototyping

design guidelines

The design guidelines were informed and influenced by the user research results.
Key features are system modularity, using a combination of visual, tactile and haptic cues for interaction, enabling the users to send messages without looking and creating a product which is desirable and fun to use.

The BuddyBeads is a structured but open system that supports social dynamics and changes, and is based on inner group codes.

the system

The guidelines led to a design which is comprised of a basic bracelet structure, with attachable beads.
There are two types of beads: friend beads and message beads.
: : Message beads are used for specifying the message sent
: : Friend beads are used for sending the message to a specific friend.

Additional layer of communication, which is immediate and varies with each message, is added when the user presses the message bead according to her current mood. The press sequence is recorded and sent as part of the message. For example: short and intensive presses may convey stress, while long presses might convey importance. It is possible that some group members will use this method to create their own private signals on top of the group codes.

The fact that beads can be added and removed from the bracelet supports the dynamic and flux structures of teenager groups.
As the group changes, so does the bracelet’s composition. When two girls are no longer friends, they can remove their friend’s bead from the bracelet and keep it as a memory of their friendship. When they become friends again, few weeks later, the removed beads can be added to the bracelet once again.

This it how it works:
Girl A chooses the type of message she wants to send (for example: I’m talking to the boy we like), records a sequence of presses that conveys her current mood (Excited) and sends it to her friend, which receive the message in her bracelet as a combination of light and vibrations.
The phone is a transparent mediator in the communication

The ability to send a message without looking at the bracelet is important in situations where other people are involved and the sender wants to comment about the situation but doesn’t want the others to notice that she is engaged in another communication. This can be the case when a girl is talking to a boy she likes and want her friend to know, or when few group members are talking with someone who is not part of their group and they want to comment about the situation.

Wearing such a bracelet signifies that the wearer is a part of a group.
The fact that the meaning of the bead shapes change from one group to the other and even change over time defines a boundary around the group members and supports their feeling of belonging.


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