How Might We Encourage Face-To-Face

Interactions between family members?

As we thought about home, many of us thought about family. Some of us from the department have just left living with family to attend grad school. How was the family household evolving? What could family households of the future look like?


Attitudinal Research

Literature Review

Trend Research

User Interviews

Research Synthesis 

Journey Mapping



Screen Flows

Interaction Design

Visual Design

Video Filming



Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

Fusion 360

Final Cut Pro


Passionate Project 

with Yuna Chong, Anshuman Dahar, Rahmat Raji


12 weeks


Bean is a primarily voice-controlled chef that guides household members through a shared cooking experience with AR  projection for visual support. It is designed to help encourage more face-to-face interaction between household members.

Problem Space

Interaction is a core part of being human and we need it to fulfill our social needs. As families have school and work becoming even more demanding, personal technology has offered itself as the easy way out. Living most of our life online is increasingly being used as a diversion, a way to unwind, or simply a means of entertainment.

What does current family dynamic look like?

We noted differences in how people were spending time together. Some were more active, such as in shared activities requiring concentration on what someone is doing or saying, and some were more passive, such as sitting in the same room together perhaps engaging in independent activities.

Method 1


By performing in-person interviews and conducting surveys, we learned the existing family dynamic in the household. Findings included conducting users' interviews and observations at home. Some of the learnings are shared below.

Method 2


Speaking of electronic devices, what type of devices do families use in their homes? How long do they use it? We studied each user's screen time on their devices and knew different devices had different effects

From Physical to Virtual


While personal electronics and the internet have allowed us to connect with people in far corners of the world, we also felt it was starting to replace face-to-face interactions with people in our direct physical proximity. Like family members living together.

Looking into electronic devices, what type of devices do families use in their homes? Different devices had different effects. According to our participants and Pew Research Center, generally, TVs, speakers, and kitchen appliances promoted shared experiences or interactions, contrary to phones and laptops.

When do family members feel most connected to each other?

Cooking and eating were overarching themes in many discussions and interviews about how families spent time together, along with spending time in the kitchen and dining area. We found most of the activities participants described were in the top-left quadrant (active, analog). Analog means they did not necessarily include the use of any electronic devices.


Family time from the past to nowadays

In parallel to interviews, we did literature review to explore reports of academic and industry researchers and found a plethora of evidence pointing to the well-being benefits of spending time with family, and the risks the internet and digital experiences posed on family time.

We also noticed a ton of literature on meals specifically. The consensus was that there were a lot of benefits related to family members eating regular meals together.


Breaking Down Mealtime


Focusing on mealtime, we look into this activity holistically and see where the opportunities can fit in:

  • Active Time: Break down the individual tasks throughout preparing, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Idle Time: Opportunities for different activities.
  • Other: Knowledge barrier, Skills barrier, Communication with family members, Deciding recipe


How might we leverage meals to encourage more active face-to-face interactions between family members, and by doing so creates more opportunities for interpersonal connection?

Design Goal

After our studies, my team and I wanted to make the most of cooking meals to encourage busy families to interact with and create more opportunities for emotional connection. We based our designs to deliver on the following key.


Promote active face to face participation in shared activities


Create opportunities for two-way emotional connection


Do not assume gender/ title based roles within the household


In order to make sure we weren’t influencing each other during the initial concept phase, each member of our group generated 30+ individual ideas which responded to our design challenge. When we came together we affinity mapped these selected ideas into 5 different categories of different mealtimes.


Setting Up The Structure

We went through a few rounds of iteration using the prompt and prototyping to refine the concept with research outcomes in-line with our project goals. Below is a revised and simplified information architecture and flow which focused on a specific dish that the family would be cooking together along with the i/o map.


Not only hearing, but seeing

In the prototype building process, we did several tests to evaluate our concept with Bean to see if it works while cooking and even more, bring out more face-to-face interaction and emotional communication. In order to assist in voice interaction for the chefs. I came up low-fidelity spatial UI wireframe mapping that could help with visual support while in the kitchen.


Gesture Testing


Gestures had to be learned, but once learned they were easily used. We incorporated 4 different gestures. Given the limited number and the natural mapping of gestures to the physical world, participants did not experience a steep learning curve.


After a few prototype testing, we found out the actual interaction is a lot more complicated compared to what we planned. We did a few changes below that'd divided into visual, interaction, and output.


Ideas to Action

We concluded a few scenarios from Voice User Interaction that how Bean would interact with family members in the kitchen.

Interpersonal connection

When there is a silence during cooking time, Bean would provide activities such as Guess-that-song, guess the favorite movie, and trivia helped calm nerves and bring the chefs together. We uncovered that they were especially effective while the chefs were waiting for food to cook and small competitions make the experience fun.

  • [participant A] ”Nice! I never win anything”
  • [bean] “Would you like to continue?”
  • [both participants, together ] “Yes!!”

Knowing You Better and Better 


Over time, Bean develops an understanding of family skills and preferences, recommending cooking experiences accordingly.

High-Level Design Goals

Aligned set of underlying principles describing the most important elements of our solution.

  • Since mealtime has been brought up a lot throughout our interview, we want to encourage more family activities at this specific moment.
  • Even more, to elevate mealtime more than just a routine.
  • Those actives can encourage more face-to-face interactions to bring out more emotional communication.
  • Generates shared activities with more face-to-face participation.
  • Two-ways, or even more crossed-over emotional connections within the family members.
  • No assume roles within the household, divided labor of work.

Bean is a primarily voice-controlled chef that guides household members through a shared cooking experience with holograms projection for visual support. It is designed to help encourage more face-to-face interaction between household members.


What makes bean special?

  • Reduce the time it takes to cook, by having two people do it instead of one person.
  • Challenge gender roles unfair distribution of labour within the household.
  • Get families closer together


  • What are the roles tech plays in the relationship with each other, sometimes parents use tech to keep kids busy and then sometimes they want them to use less technology.
  • People either think technology is really evil or people think it’s the other way around. It’s about entanglement. With machines and people... and even on a psychological level between the machine and our everyday behavior.


2022 Eric Chen - Images and content may not be used without written permission. All rights reserved.®