As the Allround Designer it is my responsibility to do the concepting, usertesting, design and communication around Mina.
“It feels like you no longer matter in society”
Mina is a smart mirror developed for those over the age of 50 who have difficulty finding work due to a lack of self-confidence and belief in their own skills. Despite a wealth of experience, talent and competency in many areas gained through a lifetime of practice, people aged over 50 may find issues with the application process. Mina is a mirror placed in the home environment that helps individuals build upon their self-belief in a novel, accessible way. The project first began with a conversation with my mother. At 59 she is a passionate person, eager to learn and always going the extra mile. Yet she hasn’t held a permanent job for the last few years. I decided to investigate further, and I found that my mother was far from the only person in this situation. Through conversations with my mother and other people of her generation, I discovered that due to a lack of self-belief, instead of entering an application procedure full of self-conviction and confidence, they consistently undersell themselves when applying for jobs. That was the moment I realized that as an interaction designer, I could help with this problem. I approached people between the ages of 50 and 67 who had experienced periods of prolonged unemployment. With these experiences as the backbone of my work, I delved deeper into the issues by engaging a career coach, who communicated that candidate self-confidence is one of the biggest problems. Potential employers often automatically dismiss older candidates; this is not helped by the fact that despite a lifetime of experience, candidates in this age group don’t see themselves as valuable employees. This led to my idea of getting people to talk to their reflection.
I set up a test group which I provided with various assignments, including exercises involving mirrors. Almost all participants found that they were more positive about themselves after a week of performing exercises with their reflection. The only exception was an individual who already used a similar technique, who still felt they benefited from the experience. The smart mirror I developed is the end result of this research. Mina gives short, daily assignments that enable the growth of self-belief, from simply maintaining eye contact to positive affirmations. Mina analyzes responses to give personal feedback and compliments. It starts with a low threshold, allowing people time to get used to a new way of interacting with technology. The longer people use Mina, the more they will be challenged. This ensures that an invaluable group of people are convinced of their own strengths, letting them improve their outcomes when applying for jobs.Mina empowers people with little self-belief to regain confidence in their ability, competence and expertise. https://youtu.be/WX6Qpbv-Zzw
The future of Mina
Mina has come a long way as a project since those first conversations with our initial target audience. Mina won the Hanneke Schreurs Graduation Award out of a competitive pool of young innovative designers and researchers with an interest in public health. In addition to this, Mina was shown at the Interaction 20 Redux – IxDA Nederland and the WHO congress (WHO European Healthy Cities Network Congres – Arts & Health 8-10 december 2020) conferences.
The aim of Mina at the original point of development was to design a tool to overcome the challenges faced by those over the age of 50 struggling to find work. During the coronavirus pandemic, we realised that this isn’t the only group facing barriers when trying to join the job market. We have therefore expanded our target audience to include young adults at the start of their careers.
To begin the process of bringing Mina to life, I have brought Stephan Spies onto the project as the ‘King of Technology’. We are also proud to announce that we have entered a collaboration with the municipality of Utrecht and the Institute for Positive Health to start to enact real change within these marginalized groups of society.
We are always looking for new collaborators interested in the further development of Mina. Please do get in touch via the ‘Contact’ section of the website for more information.
WHO European Healthy Cities Network Congress “Place, Health and COVID-19” – Arts & Health (private event)