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Generations is a service design App that allows young Chinese people to exchange time for elderly care -- a sharing economy for time and to make the seniors live an accessible, graceful life and feel being loved by their children through the service provided by this platform. 


UX Designer  (Individual Work)


Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch


Jan 2016



As the whole world is facing the challenge of the aging population, the situation in China is getting even more intensive because of the one-child policy in the past 35 years.



need support.png
physical challenge.png

A great part of the aging population is facing physical challenges, yet the care taking system is under development, most people need to rely on family members.




The one-child policy was originally created to slow down the explosive population growth but has inadvertently created an upside-down pyramid of exponential increasing responsibility. Due to the cultural customs of filial piety (the young take care of the elderly), the policy left 2.8 billion single children whom each need to not only support their parents but also their four grandparents.



work away from home.png

Although It’s a tradition of Chinese culture for three generations to live together for senior care, most young people work in megacities for a better career and income. In most cases, they cannot really be there when their parents and grand-parents need them. It’s an embarrassing thing for the seniors if they have to ask for a favor to get help from other relatives and neighbors.



Design decisions

1. Visual: the "toy-like" look

"Oh, I wasn’t expecting such a cute ‘machine’ is telling such a sad story!" said some audience during the shows. Cute and funny were the factors how this work got the audiences’ attention.

I made them toy like, not only because I didn’t want the experience to be all sad, but I wanted to show the fact that people’s happiness is played as toys. And the machine itself, wooden, rough, hand-made, not that accurate, looks like a toy someone made just for fun. Looks like the person who made the rules didn’t care. Just like how the real world works.

Those wooden couples in this work are toys, it’s true. But millions of flesh and blood gay couples, they are real.



2. Interaction: not fancy at all

The only interaction of this work is to grab and place the couples onto the conveyor.


A simple action made the connection between the audiences with the couple they grab, while curiously watching what is happening next, they started to care how it goes for them, and even cross figures to wish them luck to ‘cheat the machine’ or ‘escape’(sometimes the code wasn’t that accurate due to the interruption from the changing light)



3. Speed/Timing

The timing was the key of Marriage machine, the standard motor had to turn and hit the couples exactly when they get there, and had to hit hard and fast.


Consider how slow the pace is for the whole work, the hit looks even harsh and ruthless contrastively. Many audiences were shocked the first time they saw a gay couple got pushed down.




Early Sketch

The original plan was to make the piece automatic, the couples are pushed onto the conveyor. When the colored ones are rejected, they go through the process again and again but never will get married.



The biggest challenge was to make the conveyor roller, there were no exiting parts that designed for connecting a stepper motor to a roller. I tried with bronze nut, 3D printed parts that has a hole on one side to fit stepper motor and has three legs to hold the wooden stick on another, but it's hard to keep it at the center, I ended up drilling a metal stick into it to make it work.


color sensor test.gif
stepper motor.gif

Test with hand made roller for the conveyor


Using a motor driver board to make the stepper motor work with Arduino


Test color sensor with color papers. Found out color sensor is distance sensitive.


Test with a standard motor +  arm to hit



Marriage machine relied on all parts to work together so that the building had to be precise, where to mount each motor, leaving a groove to wire the color sensor, the length of the fabric had to be perfect to make the tension the conveyor needs.  Everything needed to be planned ahead.

Yet the headache was still the conveyor, the friction was either not enough for two materials to hold each other, or too much that the motor could not drive. After tested with more than five kinds of material, It finally worked out with canvas and wooden sticks.


laser cut.gif

Test friction with different materials for build the conveyor 


Make the main structure with pine wood


Mount the acrylic arm on the motor, and the motor on the machine


Test rubber as the conveyor 


Mount the stepper motor and the machine to drive the conveyor


Make the rollers for conveyor


Mount the color sensor


Laser cut the little "couples"


Make the little "couples"


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