TaskCam: Designing and Testing an Open Tool for Cultural Probes Studies

Boucher, Andy; Brown, Dean; Ovalle, Liliana; Sheen, Andy; Vanis, Mike; Odom, William; Oogjes, Doenja and Gaver, William. 2018. TaskCam: Designing and Testing an Open Tool for Cultural Probes Studies. CHI '18 Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, [Article]

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Abstract or Description

TaskCams are simple digital cameras intended to serve as a tool for Cultural Probe studies and made available by the Interaction Research Studio via open-source distribution. In conjunction with an associated website, instructions and videos, they represent a novel strategy for disseminating and facilitating a research methodology. At the same time, they provide a myriad of options for customisation and modification, allowing researchers to adopt and adapt them to their needs. In the first part of this paper, the design team describes the rationale and design of the TaskCams and the tactics developed to make them publicly available. In the second part, the story is taken up by designers from the Everyday Design Studio, who assembled their own TaskCams and customised them extensively for a Cultural Probe study they ran for an ongoing project. Rather than discussing the results of their study, we focus on how their experiences reveal some of the issues both in producing and using open-source products such as these. These suggest the potential of TaskCams to support design-led user studies more generally.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



Design Research; Cultural Probes; User Studies; Context Studies; Open Source; Making

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Design > Interaction Research Studio


8 January 2018Accepted
26 April 2018Published

Event Location:

Montreal, Canada

Date range:

21 - 26 April 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Jan 2018 13:27

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:43

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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