probetools, easy to customize cameras and audio devices for cultural probe studies

probetools, easy to customize cameras and audio devices for cultural probe studies

the interaction research studio of goldsmiths university of london presents probetools, unconventional cameras and audio devices for user studies that you can make yourself. created for use in cultural probe studies – playful tasks given to evoke inspiring responses from users – they’re easy to customize and use in your own projects.

taskcam 3D-printed



probetools build on contemporary making and hacking trends to offer researchers of any background new possibilities for user studies. they eschew traditional scientific approaches to understanding people, making a virtue of ambiguity and uncertainty by offering playful tasks to participants to evoke inspiring responses in return instead.



with features such as computer vision, motion sensing, and time lapse photography, probetools don’t just recreate the original cameras but open new opportunities for visual and audio research. best of all, because probetools are open-sourced, designers and researchers are free to modify them to suit their own purposes — or just for fun.



taskcams are the basic workhorse of interaction research studio’s collection. a small screen on the back shows a scrollable list of questions or requests that researchers can customise. when a picture is taken, the image is stored along with the current request. this updates the original cultural probe cameras. taskcams are built on a custom arduino shield designed for the probetools project. the shield, which is perforated and predrilled, can be snapped apart and reconfigured in about a dozen ways (including a matchbox-sized screenless version) without soldering. this allows taskcams to be constructed in a variety of forms chosen for their affordances or aesthetic qualities.

taskcam in paper



visioncams capture long-term recordings of settings without invading privacy. computer vision triggers and manipulates images, producing stop-action recordings that balance intrigue with insight. the automatic interviewer uses speech generation to read questions from a text file provided by researchers, then records users’ replies for about 20 seconds.




visionvam compact


visioncam mixed


visioncam tall


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

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