Cultural probes aim to elicit unique responses by asking people to respond to a question, many times in the form of a photograph. While disposable cameras once worked quite nicely for this purpose, their relative rarity today meant a new digital alternative was needed. For this, Interaction Research Studio came up with a series of ProbeTools cameras that anyone can make and customize.
The most basic type in this series of cameras is known as the TaskCam, which features a 3D-printed frame and an Arduino Uno at its core. A shield with several snap-off sections provides user interface, including a trio of buttons, and a display that shows questions that are read off of a micro SD card. Users then respond to queries with photographs, saved with the corresponding question for future analysis.
TaskCams recreate the proven Cultural Probe technique of relabelling disposable cameras with requests for pictures. The 3D Printed TaskCam is the basic workhorse of the collection, robust and flexible enough to use across multiple studies.
The 3D Printed TaskCam has a small screen on the back that shows a scrollable list of requests for pictures. Researchers can load their own list of requests onto the camera to prepare for a study. When users take a picture, the image is tagged with the current request, and stored on a standard flash drive that can be removed for downloading.
The casing for the 3D Printed TaskCam can be printed successfully without support materials even on low-end printers. The device requires a custom Arduino shield, buy online at cost price, or follow the open-source plans to make yourself. Smart power management mean that two AA batteries provide more than enough power for an entire user study.