Hiccups | Analog, Digital, and Speculative Methods


Create a breadth of prototypes around the concept of “hiccups”, and novel interaction techniques for recording, sending, editing, and receiving spacial messages. Each artifact created builds upon the previous.


In various cultures around the world, “getting the hiccups” means that someone is thinking about you. I simplify hiccups to a means of notifying someone that you are thinking about them, and extend this metaphor to the various ways of notifying in the present day — specifically in the case of digital notifications and communication.

Print media: book design

My process began with designing a book because I had realized that in my personal life, the majority of pictures I was taking was out of the subject of my photos being associated with people I knew. Having just moved across the world, it always took me by pleasant surprise to find familiar objects, whether it be the same plates my mom uses or my friend’s favorite brand of ramen.

This action of capturing photographs with the main purpose being to share them with the people they reminded me of was what first connected my mind to thinking about the metaphor of hiccups. I entertained the possibility of a “superpower” to cast the hiccups onto someone, as a way of forcing them to thinking about you when you are also thinking about them.

In the layout of the book, the photographs are accompanied by their technical specifications. I included this to share the exact details of the photos, as a way of conveying their authenticity, as well as to express the detail of time. The relationship between time and space is another theme I started to explore through this first project, and the ability to “send” someone hiccups felt like a way to mend any disconnect between time and space, as I felt like I was in neither the same time nor space as the people I thought about in these photos.

Digital Service: Mobile App Design

To progress from the first project, I wanted to commit to a new goal of designing a tool, or something that could be used by others. Therefore, I decided to create a service in the form of a mobile application. This mobile application further explores the aforementioned relationship between time and space, and allows users to share photos from their smartphones similar in nature to the ones I took and included in my first book.

With the mobile application, I introduce the idea of “space-based associations”, or digital captures made because of a triggering of memories by the physical environment the user is presently in. Through creating the mobile application, I explore novel multi-modal interaction techniques with a mobile device. My goal with implementing multi-modality was to create greater immersiveness in the experience, in order to foster this “connection” between time and space — between the sender and recipient of the message.

Goal: Focused on sharing and saving thoughts that are notable for how they relate to our relationships with other people as well as the location. Take advantage of the sensing technologies and 3D scanners already available in most people‘s back pockets.

These messages are also a tame form of mixed reality, in the way that to write or record a message, the sender holds down on a part of the screen that they want to “anchor” the message to. In this example, the message is “anchored” to the window, which semantically aligns as the message itself is about the weather at night. Messages are recorded in video-form, and when the recipient receives the message, they can fully open it by physically moving their phone around in the same motion the message was recorded in. This “transforms” the phone into a viewfinder, and connects the sender and recipient through this shared physical motion.

1. You capture by starting a recording and sliding the “button” to a specific coordinate in the scene. If the coordinate is pressed on (3D touch), you can begin transcribing a voice message that will then be anchored to that object. Once pressure is released, the voice recording for that moment is halted, but the button can continue to be slided to other areas in the scene to anchor more messages. 

2. You can view a received message by moving your phone around (augmented—virtual reality), turning your “reality” into a viewfinder of their message.

Speculative Artifact: a Notification Machine

The last area I wanted to explore was the “receiving” of messages. How can our notifications be more honest to the messages they represent? 
The final artifact created in this exploration goes back to the initial concept of sending hiccups. In the previous prototype of a mobile application, I designed interaction techniques for sending and receiving; in this last project, I wanted to deeply explore techniques for notifying — in detail.

I believe that the notification interaction of a mobile experience is often overlooked, but is becoming more and more significant in impact towards our experience with digital products and relationship with technology as a whole. The notification is actually often our first interaction with a mobile phone.

Therefore, I designed a “hiccup machine” that spits out a hiccup in tandem to a notification on your phone. It is a subtle, calm, and joyful method of notifying a user of a notification.

yours, emily. march 2024