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What support mechanisms might help people in a relationship explore and understand their sexuality in healthy and equitable ways?

What support mechanisms might help people in a relationship explore and understand their sexuality in healthy and equitable ways?

What support mechanisms might help people in a relationship explore & understand their sexuality in healthy & equitable ways?

What support mechanisms might help people in a relationship explore and understand their sexuality in healthy and equitable ways?

What support mechanisms might help people in a relationship explore and understand their sexuality in healthy and equitable ways?

Timeline
9 weeks  ◍  2018

Timeline
9 weeks  ◍  2018

Team
Cayla Key, Dolcie Dass

Team
Cayla Key, Dolcie Dass

Role
Research, Design, Prototyping

Role
Research, Design, Prototyping

In brief

In brief

Sex is a complex coordination within an individual. The importance of understanding one’s self, and effectively advocating for one’s likes and wants is vital to sexual health and fulfillment. 

For this design research project, my team conducted secondary and primary research over 6 weeks on the topic of sexual exploration within a relationship. Over the next 3 weeks, we designed, prototyped and tested a speculative product that could assist people in a relationship.

Sex is a complex coordination within an individual. The importance of understanding one’s self, and effectively advocating for one’s likes and wants is vital to sexual health and fulfillment. For this design research project, we conducted secondary and primary research over 6 weeks on the topic of sexual exploration within a relationship. Over the next 3 weeks, we designed, prototyped and tested a speculative product that could assist people in a relationship.

Secondary research

Arousal non-concordance

From the secondary research we conducted, we were able to see how gender-specific norms, social environment, media, and other cultural contexts inform people’s views on sexuality. It shed light on how sexual issues arise from an imbalance in desire and exploration. Another great insight we gleaned was how sex happens in a context, so all the complications of everyday life can have an influence on the context surrounding a couples’ arousal, desires, and orgasms. Our research indicated how an open communicative sex life is healthy for relationships on the whole.

From the secondary research we conducted, we were able to see how gender-specific norms, social environment, media, and other cultural contexts inform people’s views on sexuality. It shed light on how sexual issues arise from an imbalance in desire and exploration. Another great insight we gleaned was how sex happens in a context, so all the complications of everyday life can have an influence on the context surrounding a couples’ arousal, desires, and orgasms. Our research indicated how an open communicative sex life is healthy for relationships on the whole.

Primary research

We sought participants who were willing to openly discuss past sexual practices as well as discuss their current sexual practices with their current partner present.

In the semi-structured interviews, we created a space to speak openly about subjects participants would rather keep private. Dyadic interviews helped explore sensitive issues through shared stories and allowed us to observe partner interaction. With this, we found convergent and divergent insights. Through the personal inventory of items, which were meaningful to participants’ sexual lives, we gained insight into their relationship with artifacts and intimate spaces.

We interviewed 2 experts on sexuality and sexual practices—a curator of a real-world porn site, and an intimacy and sex therapist in Seattle. With the help of experts, we narrowed the scope of our inquiry and lay some groundwork for accurate and respectful nomenclature and approach.

We sought participants who were willing to openly discuss past sexual practices as well as discuss their current sexual practices with their current partner present.

In the semi-structured interviews, we created a space to speak openly about subjects participants would rather keep private. Dyadic interviews helped explore sensitive issues through shared stories and allowed us to observe partner interaction. With this, we found convergent and divergent insights. Through the personal inventory of items, which were meaningful to participants’ sexual lives, we gained insight into their relationship with artifacts and intimate spaces.

We interviewed 2 experts on sexuality and sexual practices—a curator of a real-world porn site, and an intimacy and sex therapist in Seattle. With the help of experts, we narrowed the scope of our inquiry and lay some groundwork for accurate and respectful nomenclature and approach.

bespoke_participant_profile

Research synthesis

Research synthesis

Research synthesis

For design synthesis we externalized all the data we gathered during interviews to make the content free to be moved and manipulated by us. This way, the entire set of data could be seen at once which helped us uncover implicit and hidden patterns. On the stickies, we noted observations, insights, and quotes. Because of the complexity of comprehending so much data we organized the data around themes to help us start building a common understanding of our participants’ needs. From the themes, we were able to uncover compelling insights and consistent problems our participants were facing.

For design synthesis we externalized all the data we gathered during interviews to make the content free to be moved and manipulated by us. This way, the entire set of data could be seen at once which helped us uncover implicit and hidden patterns. On the stickies, we noted observations, insights, and quotes. Because of the complexity of comprehending so much data we organized the data around themes to help us start building a common understanding of our participants’ needs. From the themes, we were able to uncover compelling insights and consistent problems our participants were facing.

Key findings

bespoke_num_1

By avoiding tension-causing conversations and relying on body language to communicate needs during sex, responsibility for good communication is displaced from the actor to the reader.

By avoiding tension-causing conversations and relying on body language to communicate needs during sex, responsibility for good communication is displaced from the actor to the reader.

By avoiding tension-causing conversations and relying on body language to communicate needs during sex, responsibility for good communication is displaced from the actor to the reader.

By avoiding tension-causing conversations and relying on body language to communicate needs during sex, responsibility for good communication is displaced from the actor to the reader.

research_finding_1
bespoke_num_2

When sex is defined as beginning with penetration and ending with climax the wider range of sensory and emotional experiences are overlooked, rushed, or seen as an antecedent rather than an opportunity to explore.

When sex is defined as beginning with penetration and ending with climax the wider range of sensory and emotional experiences are overlooked, rushed, or seen as an antecedent rather than an opportunity to explore.

research_finding_2
bespoke_num_3

As sexual exploration and communication become more insular within the relationship, porn becomes the go-to place for education and inspiration, and sex becomes self-relational.

research_finding_3

Design principles

Our design principles, based on our participants’ behaviors and attitudes, helped guide our design decisions while ideating a solution.

With design principles, we were able to articulate a shared sense of what’s important for us and what’s true to us, use that to communicate with stakeholders and make sensible choices on behalf of our desired audience.

Our design principles, based on our participants’ behaviors and attitudes, helped guide our design decisions while ideating a solution.

With design principles, we were able to articulate a shared sense of what’s important for us and what’s true to us, use that to communicate with stakeholders and make sensible choices on behalf of our desired audience.

Speculative design response

Be(Spoke)—a platform for erotic fiction

Be(Spoke), an AI audio assistant, creates an environment for couples to vocalize their preferences and desires. Bespoke is a portable device fitted with an audio receiver, speaker and printer. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help users co-create amorous narratives with their partners.

For first-time use, Bespoke is more involved to help bring structure to the users' shared fantasy. It provides prompts like Where are you two? What do you see? What do you feel? or What do you do next?. The more Be(Spoke) is used, the more it understands the user and can provide specific and fewer prompts depending on the context. To make the experience more immersive, it emits ambient noises based on the user's narrative.

Be(Spoke)’s AI also creates a third-person narrative based on user inputs. The user can choose to print their erotic short story to reflect on and enjoy later.

Be(Spoke)—a platform for your erotic fiction

Be(Spoke) creates an environment for a couple to vocalize their preferences and desires. Bespoke is a portable device fitted with an audio receiver, speaker and printer. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help users co-create amorous narratives with their partners.

For first time use Bespoke, the AI audio assistant, is more involved to help bring structure to the users' shared fantasy. It provides prompts like where are you two? what do you see? what do you feel? or what do you do next?  The more Be(Spoke) is used, the more it understands the users and can provide more specific and fewer prompts depending on the context. To make the experience more immersive, it emits ambient noises based on the user's narrative.

Be(Spoke)’s AI also creates a third-person narrative based on user inputs. The user can choose to print their erotic short story to reflect on and enjoy later.

Be(Spoke)—a platform for your erotic fiction

Be(Spoke) creates an environment for you and your partner to vocalize your preferences and desires. Bespoke is a portable device fitted with an audio receiver, speaker and printer. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help you co-create amorous narratives with your partner.

The first time you use Bespoke, the AI audio assistant is more involved to help bring structure to your shared fantasy. It gives you and your partner prompts like where are you two? what do you see? what do you feel? or what do you do next? The more you use Be(Spoke) the more it understands you and can provide more specific and fewer prompts depending on the context. To make the experience more immersive, it emits ambient noises based on your narrative.

Be(Spoke)’s AI creates a third-person narrative based on your inputs. You can choose to print this erotic short story to reflect on and enjoy later.

Be(Spoke)—a platform for your erotic fiction

Be(Spoke) creates an environment for you and your partner to vocalize your preferences and desires. Bespoke is a portable device fitted with an audio receiver, speaker and printer. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help you co-create amorous narratives with your partner.

The first time you use Bespoke, the AI audio assistant is more involved to help bring structure to your shared fantasy. It gives you and your partner prompts like where are you two? what do you see? what do you feel? or what do you do next? The more you use Be(Spoke) the more it understands you and can provide more specific and fewer prompts depending on the context. To make the experience more immersive, it emits ambient noises based on your narrative.

Be(Spoke)’s AI creates a third-person narrative based on your inputs. You can choose to print this erotic short story to reflect on and enjoy later.

bespoke_artwork_new

Prototype evaluation

We created a video prototype of our design response and tested it with 5 participants. The goal of creating the prototype was to evaluate our design concepts and assess the salient choices we made around how our design worked. We asked our participants to watch a 3-minute video sharing design concept we created and a story of its use. We then asked follow-up questions to help evaluate our design decisions.

We got generally positive feedback from all participants. Participants found it to be therapeutic and helpful in facilitating conversations with their partner. They could see it helping them get creative to explore things they wouldn’t normally discuss and intentional about their desires. While one participant was skeptical about the ability of the AI to construct complex narratives and truly understand his needs, the rest of the participants imagined the AI assistant would get to know them better and become more personalized over time.

bespoke_prototype_response

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© 2019 Dolcie Dass

© 2019 Dolcie Dass

Connect over Email or LinkedIn.       

© 2019 Dolcie Dass

Connect over Email or LinkedIn