OzCHI 24-Hour Challenge 2013 – The Future of Email

The OzCHI 24-hour Student Design Challenge asked us what email, today's all-over-the-place messaging service, can become in the future. We had one day to answer. We propose that the future email ecosystem will offer location-based messaging. This means, wherever you go during your daily life, you receive the emails that are related to that place at that time. This way, you get only the relevant emails, without being flooded with information, and be prone to forget everything you just read.

Team members: Jiaojiao Xu, James McIntyre, Idil Tunga, Madyana Torres


The day-long design process

Even though the project lasted one day only, we went through all the 'compulsory' steps of a regular design process: research, ideation, concept prototyping, publication. During the day we blogged about the progress with video and image snippets at http://jjjim.tumblr.com

Summarising literature research email

It was not an upbeat start, but we read up literature on the current use and problems with email protocol, and we mapped out all the hottest topics: too many extra added functionality (task management, work delegation, and personal archiving), user overload. To make this useful for us, we translated problems into opportunities for development, such as interoperation, automation, time wasting, networking, access, personalisation, tasks, support and information visualisation.

Envisioning a new type of email through ideation

The opportunities found during literature research were elaborated on with lots of idea snippets, which were combined into different scenarios. The most intriguing ideas were converging around the following directions: user identity, memory multi-sensorial messaging, content embodiment.

The concept we chose to work with proposes a convergent single-user protocol that filters your emails as you move around different places and life situations: jim@work.com, jim@supermarket.com, jim@waitingforthebus.com. you protocol automatically filters the received emails based on their relevance to the location you are at. The messages can be multi-sensory: graphics, sounds, lights, or anything that suits the atmosphere.

Filming the video prototype of the concept

The concept of location-based single-user protocol email was prototyped with a user scenario video. We storyboarded and shot scenes during the night at the museum nearby. We had to be creative with time and resources to explain the concept: we acted out the scenario ourselves, and emails were illustrated with large envelopes or small paper planes.

Publishing our work in a short paper

Finally, as the most important part of the competition, we submitted a paper to the OzCHI '14 conference. This short paper was shortlisted for publication in the conference proceedings.