Communicating UX Through Video: 4. Probing & Research

This time around we will look at videos that hardly involve any prototypes or scenarios. In these examples, designers are using video as a tool for research, inspiration and cultural probing. This article will probably be the thinnest in the series because examples like these are hard to find. But they needn’t be as these videos are technically less complex than all the rest we have seen.

Yellow Chair Stories

Yellow Chair Stories is a project by Anab Jain at the Royal College of Art. It is a “live service design intervention” conducted outside her apartment. She placed a yellow chair and a sign that read “My Wi-Fi network is open for neighbours and passersby. Free access from the yellow chair.” What resulted was an interesting and fun study on community, public spaces and network technology which became material for her to design future scenarios involving wi-fi.

Domestic Gubbins

“The Domestic Gubbins are a series of four fictional objects, designed as video probes, in order to enter in conversations with people around their everyday ideas of intelligence.” It is another project by Anab Jain with Alex Taylor at Microsoft Research, Cambridge. None of the objects from this project were functional, but the video prototypes were enough for their team to have meaningful conversations with people about such hypothetical products.

Microsoft Mojave Experiment

Although this video plays out like a viral marketing campaign, it’s interesting to see Microsoft combining video and user research to make a point about its products.

Snowbird Video Ethnography by Artefact

There is actually nothing exciting about this video, but I enjoyed it for what it is — a really nice example of video ethnography. Be sure to check out the Artefact blog where they have published the first of three articles about how to film customer insights.


I am currently working on a student project which is a service to help friends coordinate social activities with their mobiles phone. One way I have explored this area is by conducting small social experiments involving my own friends and their phones. Using video allowed me to document their experiences while gaining immediate feedback through interviews. Insights weren’t the only goal, I was also looking for stories, quotes or even footage that could be reused in fictional video scenarios when I present the final service at the end.

Adam Little

Adam Little is an interaction designer who enjoys human centered design in collaborative, multicultural and cross disciplinary teams. He is Pilot Year student at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design where they apply technology to people’s everyday lives by prototyping new ideas for products, services and software.

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