Hengling Music Boxes

Interactive music boxes inspired by the Dong minority in rural China

For this project, we designed, prototyped and tested four interactive music boxes that could communicate the Dong culture, a minority group that lives in rural China. The project also explored which research approaches could be used in cross-cultural contexts: situations when UX researchers seek to understand cultures or users foreign to their own. 

In a team of ten, we built and run a mobile maker space using local materials in the Hengling village. We researched approaches to the design of the music boxes through observation, embodiment and interviews with locals, and we defined design concepts through brainstorming sessions. Next, we designed and prototyped four interactive music boxes using Arduino. Finally, we conducted usability testing with tourists, and we evaluated their usability and cultural representativeness with locals. The process followed a quick iterative design process.