CHI'14 Student Design Competition: A Critical View on Quantified Self

With the goal of learning more about ourselves we are starting to build sensors into all of our possessions, but what happens when we start quantifying those that cannot decide for themselves?

Update: Our paper was accepted (acceptance rate 12.5%) and we are looking forward to presenting our concept in Toronto this April.

Competition CHI'14 Student Design Competition
Project Type Extracurricular
Year Fall 2013
Skills Interviewing, Research, Critical Thinking, Brainstorming, Academic Writing
Team Members Marcel Penz, Júlia Nacsa

The call for participation of the CHI 2014 Student Design Competition asked students to concern themselves with "BodyData: Designing for Qualities of the Quantified Self". In an extra-curricular collaboration with Julia Nacsa and Marcel Penz we explored both our own and our peers' attitudes towards the Quantified Self. To spur the discussion we designed realistic a future vision of a quantified baby product that we named Baby Lucent. Our future vision was based on existing or in-development products and plays on parental worries identified in interviews with parents in Umeå. Baby Lucent is our critical interpretation of how a Quantified Baby product might look in the near future and is aimed at first-time parents and allows them to reflect upon and improve their parenting behavior based on real data. In the following discussion we then showed our designs to 14 young designers. Their initial enthusiasm slowly gave way to more critical thought regarding the purpose and consequences of such products.  Finally, we concerned ourselves with how Quantified Baby ought to be designed to avoid the three biggest pitfalls: Increasing the distance between parent and child, increasing parental anxiety and inhibiting parental intuition.


The Smart Pacifier contains sensors arranged as pores on the mouthpiece to analyze the infant’s saliva for bacteria levels and body temperatures. The pacifier periodically takes new readings and sends it to the Baby Lucent Internet service.


The Smart Feeding Bottle measures both the infant’s food intake for its nutritional values. The idea being that parents not only can see the optimum feeding quantities and time, but also can even reflect on the mother’s behavior and diet if the feeding bottle is filled with breast milk.


The Smartphone Application acts as the primary interface for the parent. They can identify their child’s likelihood of picking up infection in areas close by (e.g. the playground around the corner), the optimal time to feed the baby, a comparison of actual and recommended nutrient levels of the baby’s food.