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Funeral House

A funeral experience that heals the bereaved.

My Role

Research

Interaction Design

Visual Design

Prototyping

3D Modeling

Coding

Timeline

Sept. 2020 - Dec. 2020

11 Weeks

Team

1 designer

1 engineer

Tools

Adobe XD

Rhino + KeyShot

Adobe Photoshop

Raspberry Pi

Python

  • BACKGROUND

Traditional Chinese Funeral Cultures

Background

Funeral has 7000 years of history in China. The traditional Chinese funeral reflects the feudal society's concepts of funeral and is a highly spiritual activity with different customs.

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Rich Funeral Rites

In order to stabilize their rule, the feudal rulers of China made use of people's worship of ghosts and gods to produce rich funeral rites, including large areas of luxurious tombs and burial objects.

Tomb Murals

The murals mostly reflect the activities of the deceased during his or her life, and the purpose is mainly to preach and commemorate the dead or hope that the dead can live a good life in the afterworld.

Community Gathering

funerals were a time for community gatherings, when everyone who had any familiarity with the deceased attended and engaged in the process of healing.

Ancestor Worship

Ancestors will have descendants worship the incense, otherwise they cannot enter the family cemetery and became a wondering soul.

Today's Funeral - the Funeral Service Industry

As funeral services are becoming more familiar to people in China, their professional skills and standard procedures are becoming more diluted. The funeral market is a mixed picture. Many funeral enterprises put their interests first and abandon the foundation of funeral etiquette. Thus, today's funerals are losing their healing powers.

Cremation

Green burial

Don't care

Donate to science

Other

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  • DESIGN CHALLENGE

How might we bring back funeral services' healing powers to the bereaved?

Solution
  • SOLUTION

I broke the experience into three parts: before, during, and after the funeral:

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"Funerals used to be a time for community gatherings. But today, only the most intimately involved feel compelled to participate. The rite itself has become shortened, with fewer people choosing to view the body."

Solution 1-1: Explorative and Interactive Projection Wall

People can explore the deceased's past life on their own and get meaningful life messages

Solution 1-2: Interactive Paper Lantern Ceiling Installation

Creates a peaceful and breathing  environment that conveys life's hope

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the corridor - before the funeral ceremony

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"I feel like the funeral industry now is in a weird situation.  I've attended 2 funerals in the past year. They look the same, have the same steps, and the funeral hosts say pretty much the same things. It's like a streamlined product."

Solution 2: Water Display and Lighting

The "light bridge" connects the dead and the lived. The water screen and natural lighting surrounds the dead's body creates an intimate environment for the bereaved to take the final look at the deceased.

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the parlor - during the ceremony

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"I think today's funeral has lost its cathartic power. I wished I could get healed at the event, but in fact, I feel worse. It's pretty sad."

Solution 3: Interactive Lotus Installation

The flower bud blooms when detects connection between human (e.g. hug) to heal the bereaved and encourage them to cherish life and loved ones.

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yard - after the ceremony

Research
  • RESEARCH

What kind of service do people need?

In order to understand the needs of users, I posted an online survey on Sept. 17, 2020, and 121 of the 128 surveys returned were valid.

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User Journey Map

To better understand the needs of users, I created a journey map that outlines users' pain points during funerals and opportunities for design.

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Synthesis

User Journey Map

Through research and interviews, I found that "loosing healing powers", "missing traditional elements", and "guests lacking involvement" are the main problems of current funeral ceremonies. 
My goal is to solve these problems by designing a renewed funeral experience with human needs at its core.

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Design
  • DESIGN

BEFORE FUNERAL CEREMONY

1. Corridor - Paper Lantern Ceiling Installation & Interactive Projection Wall

An interactive ceiling installation that provides a holy and peaceful environment to make guests feel blessed from the deceased.

paper lantern ceiling installation

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  • lantern design

Paper lanterns symbolize sun, light and warmth in the eastern culture. Hence, with the runes on ribbons, I wanted to create a sense of how the deceased is blessing the living.

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  • light / emotional design

During the lantern's movement, its ribbons will flow due to the buoyancy force, creating a peaceful movement. The brightness of the lantern also changes according to people's movement to create a sense of hope and solemnity.

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  • Methodology

Uses distance sensor to detect people's presence: when distance<35, lanterns flies up and lights on; when distance >=75, lanterns falls down and lights out.

Circuit and used components

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Code

<set up>

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<calculating distance>

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<lantern's color and position change according to various distance>

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Test

The pen (monitor) starts spinning when the toy (a person) is in presence

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Interactive Memory Wall

  • Goal

To let the guests feel that the most important thing in life is not all the accomplishments or fame one got. Instead, the meaning of life is to appreciate and live every moments of your life.

  • Methodology

The timeline on the wall has 4 themes of life: childhood, families, friends, and loved things. When guests click on one of the themes, the theme picture dissolves into many smaller pictures about the deceased's past life. 

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DURING FUNERAL CEREMONY

2. Chapel - Water Display and Lighting

Lighting design that provides a peaceful and intimate environment during funeral ceremony.

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AFTER FUNERAL CEREMONY

3. Courtyard - Interactive Lotus Installation

An interactive installation that highlights the importance of human connection and provides a way for catharsis after funeral ceremony.

  • Methodology

Using body detection, the lotus installation shines white when detecting people's presence. It starts to bloom and the totality of light gets redder when people interact. The more powerful the interaction, the more bloomed the flower is and the color becomes more saturated.

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  • Code & Test

Using body detection, the lotus installation shines white when detecting people's presence. It starts to bloom and the totality of light gets redder when people interact. The more powerful the interaction, the more bloomed the flower is and the color becomes more saturated.

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1. distance > 300px

2. 300px > distance > 150px

3. distance < 150px

The coding part is based on an open source project made by pyImageSearch (reference: https://www.pyimagesearch.com/2020/06/01/opencv-social-distancing-detector/) 

  • Emotional Design

With this interactive installation, I wanted to highlight the importance of human connection and provide a way of catharsis for the bereaved. With the power of human interaction, people can feel the healing power given by their loved ones, and thus cherish the present ones.

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Reflection

2. people hugs each other - flowers bloom and tonality turns red

1. people's presence - lights start shining

  • Reflections & Takeaways

Combination of software and hardware

This installation project broadened my understanding of interaction design. I found that the multi-modal interaction between hardware and people, as well as utilization of software to transmit more complex information, sometimes can better serve users.

A new understanding of installation design

This is my first time learning 3D modeling tools and Raspberry Pi. Before this project, I mainly design the on screen experiences, now I have gained a better understanding of how can technology serves people better.

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