KOPPLA — A Twist on Connecting Cameras

Abstract

Globally less than half of us describe ourselves as being creative. One hurdle to creative expression is ‘just’ getting started. This project explored how a camera might invite more of us to explore our own creative expression by sharing our perspective of the world.

KOPPLA is a prototype of an Internet-connected camera that treats its owners as a creative collective. It offers inspiring creative challenges at the touch of a button. These challenges come from other camera owners in the KOPPLA collective, from local communities or from organisations interested in gathering personal perspectives.

KOPPLA aims to provoke new ideas for what the industry considers a connected camera to be. In that sense, as a connecting rather than connected camera, KOPPLA goes beyond offloading photographs to a smartphone or the Internet – instead connecting its owners to new places, people and ideas.

Inspiration and Method

As we add software to more and more of our everyday objects we are also introducing more complexity. Digital interfaces can feel disconnected from the rest of the product.

Cameras are devices that have long married digital and physical controls in one device - but now increasingly come with software and services that live outside of the device. For designers this begs the question of how to design these artefacts in ways that they still feel coherent.

Throughout the project I took a very explorative approach: First, I surveyed people to understand what they thought of their cameras and where they struggled. I then held 4 workshops that resulted in 22 future camera mockups. I made a short film using only footage gathered through Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform Mechanical Turk. I interviewed filmmakers and hobbyists to confirm or reject assumptions, built multiple mockups, prototypes and proofs of concepts before testing them with 12 strangers (in intercepts) and 14 students from Umeå University (over 6 days).

This project was influenced strongly by work done in design research (namely Stolterman and Janlert's Character of Things and Pierce and Paulos' Counter-functional Things) and the early work of the design studio BERG. Inspiration was also taken from interactions with film cameras and how some of that tactility could be transported to a digital experience.

Result

The final design, KOPPLA, is a social camera concept for people looking to reconnect with their creative side. It’s designed to put a smile on your face – and encourage its owners to see their cameras in new ways. It does so in two ways:

First, by offering personalised inspirational challenges at the touch of a button. KOPPLA owners can contribute photographs, videos or stories (photos + voice overs) to the collective. Material published to the collective is free to be reused by any member.

Second, by making sure the camera is in plain view and always ready to be used. When KOPPLA is placed on its charging dock, it automatically offloads photographs to the cloud, only keeping favourite photos on the device itself.