A social statement on how poorly Cornell students treat themselves, disguised as a fun, free iPhone game.
Students at Cornell just don't seem to sleep. On the few unlucky nights (and ensuing mornings) that I find myself stuck in Duffield (or Olin, or Uris, or any Cornell building open through the night, really), I notice that I am by far not the first one to arrive or the first to depart. In burying themselves in technology and schoolwork, Cornell students (myself included) seem to have forgotten how to take care of themselves, and how to obey their circadian rhythms.
Inspired by the work of the Situationists International and the artists of the Happenings, artists of two participatory art movements, I really wanted to create an app that became a slightly different, unique piece of art to each user who experiences it - a fusion of my views and beliefs and the user's experiences and interpretation. After exploring multiple possible ideas, none of which I was particularly thrilled with, the idea behind Project EGG came to me in a moment of clarity as I found myself suddenly very awake at almost 3:00AM in the morning. It was so late, yet students surrounded me in the little Cornell computer lab, totally engrossed in the light of their monitors - a sadly reoccurring trend here at Cornell.
The goal of this project is to spread awareness to Cornell students about their daily habits, especially if they don't realize their behavior is disadvantageous to their health, and to promote the idea of taking better of themselves. Read more about Project EGG here.
The project is disguised as a game, free for Cornell students to download and play. To the students, the application will resemble a Tamagotchi game for the iPhone. The student is given an egg pet, and is expected to look after it until it hatches--take it with them everywhere, pet it, etc.
However, at the end of the game, instead of hatching out a creature, the egg will "hatch" into a timestamp and geophysical-based statement about its journey with the player. It will either scold the player for bad health habits, or praise the player for good habits.
The premiere version of Project EGG implements the very basic features of Project EGG as a web app for the iPhone: capturing geolocation of the user. Everytime the user pets the egg, the time and location they are when it occurs is recorded. Then, in this prototype, simple conditions are given: it is bad to be on central from 12AM to 9AM; the egg "checkpoints" user activity each time the user swipes (instead of providing a continuous stream of data, which would have been preferred, but not feasible with the time and funding on hand); and finally, there are three conditions, good, mediocre, and bad, which are determined by the number of "bad" swipes the user performs within the duration of the game.
The egg in these screenshots are also a lot bigger than the one seen in the mock-ups above. This change was implemented to make the user feel as if the phone was the egg. This way, the phone acts more as a metaphor for the object that the user is willing to "take care of" at the expense of his/her own health.
While I did get flattering comments about the work I've done so far, I am still far from satisfied with my app to mass-release it out into the Cornell community. Those who have played the prototype did get the message I was trying to send; however, most all responses have been along the lines of light-hearted amusement instead of self-reflection. I would like to continue my work with Project EGG-- refining and adding to the kinds of data points to capture so that I can eventually build a dynamic infographic specific to each participant's results so as to achieve a bigger individual impact.
Please look forward to my future work!