Stress Team 2016 – iCannde


Week 1-3 / Embarking on an open journey

The module ‘Design Thinking’ kicked off with  an open topic.  In the midst  of going through the steps and guidelines for design thinking, and the peculiar candy liquorice, we were segregated into our groups. The creative, multinational group consisting of Martin Lundquist from Sweden; Janos Fisher from Germany; Ang Kai Lin and Foo Heng Tong, both from Singapore is formed. Yes, that is us. (Hallå! Hallo! Hello! 你好!)

We were asked to device a set of questions that are pretty general but may link us to a certain agenda. As we went through the topic with the guidelines of the steps in ‘design thinking’, we wrote down questions like “what do you like” and “what do you hate”. Also, we decided to structure the interview to be more casual and free-flowing. 



Week 4-5 /  Stressful interviews

We carried out our first series of interviews, at the location of Canteen 2 in NTU at 9 o’clock in the morning. As Martin and Janos were still not acclimatized to the Singaporean slang, we conducted the interviews together as a group. This actually limited our interviews in the allocated timeframe to a mere 4. However, we were able to question and press for a more genuine interview, as the interviewees were actually able to feel comfortable and tell us more problems that they face as we dug deeper.

We noticed that the interviewees were hall residents who were having breakfast, which was probably due to the time of interview. We also interviewed an elder gentleman by the name of Mr. Neo, whom we initially thought was an employee in NTU but turned out to be a taxi driver who just happened to be enjoying his breakfast.


As the interviews conducted were pretty little in quantity, Kailin actually continued the interview among her hall residents. In addition, we continued with a second phase of interview at the North Spine food court. In total, we accumulated 28 interviews.

In the 28 interviewees, we found a common trait. When we asked the question “Are you happy?”, the majority response was a pretty feeble “Yes…but…” We felt that that common response was pretty interesting, therefore we decided to probe further in that direction. It turned out that the word ‘Stress’ was a common term used among the 28 individuals.

We decided to focus on the topic of stress. We devised a set of questionnaires to be sent to the students regarding stress, of which a total of 40 students participated.


From the questionnaire, a whopping 65% of individuals actually admit to feeling stressed.


We also realised that the majority also feel that Singapore is a stressful society. Academics and career future constituted to the top percentage of stress. All in all, we felt that this was an interesting point to see, therefore we researched more into why Singapore is perceived as a stressful society.

We pointed the 2 factors of being stressed for the expectation of the future to a Singaporean term coined by Singaporeans, kiasu-ism, of which we looked further into.


Week 6 /  Kiasu Expectations

Kiasu-ism is a Singaporean slang that denotes “to do better than the rest”. We wanted to know why and how Kiasu-ism actually affects the personal competitive spirit amongst individuals in Singapore.

In an article published by Channel News Asia in 2015, [] a survey of 2000 Singaporeans and permanent residents conducted by the National Values Assessment between March and June viewed the behaviours and values as described by themselves. Additionally, perception of the Singaporean society and workplaces and their desired life were recorded.

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 11.52.55 PM.png

Interestingly, the top 6 views of how they perceived Singaporeans to be are pretty negative traits. Also, Kiasu-ism actually occupies the top spot!

Alternatively, in another related article by the Straits Time in 2016, [] reporting about the steps taken to replace the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system to combat “ to reduce the over-emphasis on academic results and allow students more time and space to develop holistically.” as quoted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Additionally, education minister Mr Ng Chee Ming was apprehensive regarding the change due to an inevitable emphasis on academics and certifications. He was quoted to say, “This is deeply ingrained in our culture (pointing to kiasu-ism as a factor), and even manifests in employer mindsets.”

We thus concluded that Kiasu-ism is deeply ingrained in our culture. Therefore, we decided to look into what we can do to minimize stress in the NTU students. We conducted another series of questionnaire to 40 participants again.

We looked at how these participants deal with stress. It is noted that the responses were more inclined to negative activities such as smoking, procrastinating, sleep and “run away”.


We also asked the participants when do they feel most stressed during their day.  It is recorded that the highest amount of stress existed within the school compound.

With the informations collated, we decided upon how to direct our project, of which we decided to work on handling stress in the school compound. Finally, we came out with a design direction, of “how to tackle the feeling of stress in (context)”



Week 7 / Ideation Expectations

As we wanted to narrow down our design direction to a particular context, we looked at existing design inspirations, that worked in different contexts.

We eventually finalised our design direction to “how to tackle the feeling of stress in school”. We also devised a plan that stressed students are able to act upon, a 3 steps act of taking a step back, change perspective and recharge.

We therefore based our ideations in the context of the school.


1.  The Cocoon Pod

The Cocoon Pod is based upon the idea of a larvae sprouting its wings and evolving into a butterfly. The cocoon acts as a segregated chair that is placed along the walkway of the NTU corridors. Upon sitting inside the cocoon pod, the ‘door’ closes and you will experience a 7-minute experience of stargaze flashes. After 7 minutes, as the door opens, you recharges as you go about the rest of your day.


2. The 7-minute time machines

The seven minute time machine is based on how we after a discussion within the group see time. When one group member explained his vision of time and the way he handles it we came up with the idea of a booth where you step in and close the door, the experience of the booth will take 7 minutes, and therefore transport you seven minutes into the future. Inside the booth there would be sound and lights which would represent a journey forward through the time.


3. The vending machine

This was the idea that we chose to go forward with and try to develop into our final project. The idea is a mix of a installation and a try to make people do the three steps, step back, change perspective and re-charge, that we came up with during our brainstorming session. The vending machine would function through the user putting a coin, or similar, into the machine and then you could watch a small goldberg machine take the coin through a journey inside the machine, in the end there would be a fortune cookie or a chill-pill that falls out of the machine, which the user could eat after watching the machine.

We thought that step one was recognising that you need a break, so therefore you step back, second was changing perspective through looking at the mesmerizing goldberg machine and when the journey of the coin is finished you will get a fortune cookie with a message which will make you change perspective and make you ready to head back  to work, re-charged.

Taking a step back to change perspective

We gotten ourselves into a fatal issue –  we fell in love with a concept. We were actually really happy with the idea of the ‘Chill Mint Vending Machine’ that once the idea came out, we all wanted to pursue the development of that idea in unison. However, as we consulted with Professor Nanci, she felt that there was a gap with the research we have accumulated to the generation of the idea concept.

As Professor Nanci tried to tell us over the gap in development, we were perhaps too in love with the idea of the Vending machine that we could not fathom another development of idea. Eventually she showed us the commercial of the ‘Touch Wood Mobile Phone’, which she commented that the idea would not work in long term.

After we consulted Professor Nanci, we also consulted with our peers over the idea, and found out that even though the idea of the vending machine, and realised that even though that allows a step back, it doesn’t exactly have the second step of changing perspective. We therefore had to go back to the drawing board. It was difficult, our hearts had shattered. We were drained.

We then decided in our feeble mind to stop our mind from thinking. We took a step back and changed perspective. We changed the idea of a poetic notion which we had in the 3 ideations we had before, and tweaked.

We looked back at the research we had gathered. Our ultimate aim is to introduce the ritual of the 3 steps, to the Stressed. We knew in the 3 steps we devised, we had a strong diction in ideating. It was then that we came out with a more literal notion in our ideation.

Enter, ICANN – the application that follows the 3 step.

This idea was sprouted with the outlook of a mobile phone’s calendar application. We saw that the notion of adding tasks into the calendar may be too stressful, so we relooked to the white spaces of the calendar as a void to implement and remind  the 3 steps of de-stressing.


Week 8-9 / ICANN concept development and refinement


The weeks ahead were pretty stressful, as we had to rethink a new idea and develop in that short span of time.

We looked at existing application that are made to de-stress, and we feel that in the existing market, each of the applications garnered only one aspect of de-stressing.

We therefore devised the ‘step of the 3’ into our application. We needed the user to be able to use the application both when the user is stressed, as well as in the long run, to be able to keep the notion of the ‘3 steps’ to use.

We incorporated activities that are found on the internet that are proven to de-stress, and segregated them into different durations. In it we are able to devise different types of activities that garners different durations. We also looked at visual queues from the internet that is pleasing to the eye with more quirks, as we are designing for NTU students. An interface too solemn would not be as appealing to the students.

During consultation with Professor Nanci, she felt that the name ‘iCANN’ should in itself incorportate the number ‘3’ as that is the selling factor for the application. Therefore the name is developed into ‘icannde’. The idea for ‘de’ is a short form for ‘I can de-stress’, also in the german language, ‘drei’ signifies the number ‘3’. Additionally, ‘icannde’ is of similar pronunciation as ‘eye-candy’, so we felt that the name sticks.

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With that, we got to work. We had to incorporate the usage of the application with a quirky visual queue, that is of a clean and simple interface.

We decided to use the idea of short-term stress relief suggestions with a long-term use for the application through tracking of the user’s activities recorded in the calendar.

In short-term suggestions, we incorporated proven suggestions in where users are able to view. One discovery we found was that even though there is an abundant of suggestions available, the user may not find it useful if the user has no interest in the activity. Therefore we realised that we needed to fulfill what the user will or may find interesting to make sense of the suggestion. As such, a personality test is required for first-time users to be able to gauge what sort of a personality the user is.

In long-term, we incorporated the use of calendar in which users are able to record down their daily chores. The application then can look at the white spaces in between and suggest some activities in which the user can engage in the breaks.

Regarding the interface, we look to existing applications that are intuitive and easy to engage and use, such as Snapchat. We therefore modeled it each interface to be swiped in 4 directions. Of course, the icons need to be visually appealing too.

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 12.03.14 AM.png

Also, from the proven activities we found online, we had to classify each activity into the 3 steps of ‘Taking a step back, Change perspective and Recharge’. We found that if the text are too solemn and unappealing, or too long the user may not read the suggestions. Thus, we devised a more quirky use of language so that users would be more willing to look forward to more suggestions.

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 12.05.30 AM.png

Finally, we began testing of the application.


Week 10-11 Testing and refinement


We tested the experience of the application with our peers. Each of us simulated the use as an application with the user.

We made a unique survey for each of our peers through Google Forms, and in it we devised the personality of each peer. This is so that we are able to suggest activities that suited the peer’s character. The personality test included 3 categories: social; hobbies; diet.  This allow us to classify each person as as being an introvert or an extrovert; what they can or cannot consume; as well as how receptive of them to people.


Simulation of the personality test for first time users



Below are the information we gathered.


Name: Robin Hofstetter

Age: 21

  1. Outcome Survey:

Putting together the answers regarding his social- character traits it seems that he considers himself as a social person, just in terms of work he also likes to work on his own.

The second category implies that he is very open to outdoor group activities and prefers them to other. Although he is involved and likes sport, his diet seems not very good.

  1. Defining outcome:

As a result to these outcomes we asked Robin to do tasks helping to improve his diet. Not only in regards to short term solutions but especially in regards to long term solutions. Secondly, as he seemed to like activities involving sport we often sent him those kind of activities.

On the other hand, to achieve a greater balance of activities, we also asked him to try other activities, which he neglects (according to his answers) in his daily life. He seemed to lack social interactions as well as to contemplate about future aspects. We asked him to go for a walk (consciously following the three steps) and to hug someone to target those aspects (Also three steps)

In Terms of short term solutions, we gave him as well as the other participants the same range of methods/activities to help them deal with stressful situation and raise their awareness of the three steps. In his case he didn’t try all of them but especially liked the hugging, which he found hilarious and made him happy.

Interview with participant:

Did you do the task: Most of short term solution, sometimes got a task but I was busy so I forgot to do it afterwards

-Did methods work: I cant really say about all of them, some took quite some time so I didnt to them – I really liked to hugging which was funny.

– Do you feel less stressed: I cant really say, some methods helps but I cant really say, if the more time consuming acitivies helped (because I got your point about the long term effects)

-Was the messaging annoying: No not really just two or three tasks a day. No problem.


Name: Nik Halim

Age: 21

  1. Outcome Survey:

Nik prefers to work alone, and is more comfortable by himself, showing that he is an introvert.

Nik is not very active, and prefers staying in a stationary place. He doesnt have a sweet tooth, and his diet can improve.

  1. Defining outcome:

Long term and short term solutions are selected based upon the results.

Due to Nik’s preference to do things by himself, the activities suggested to him in short term solutions will be based up upon activities that can be done in a small space by himself. However, in long term, we want to suggest activities that allow him to begin walks outside.

Nik found the short term solutions to be relevant, but some suggestions are too long, such that he actually skipped it.

Interview with participant:

Did you do the task: Only the breathing exercise, only read/ skip the rest

-Did methods work: seen it work on someone, seems to fit in a stressed mindset

– Do you feel less stressed: probably.


Name: Tricia Ting

Age: 21

  1. Outcome Survey:

Tricia is an extrovert as she is comfortable with working in a group and is open to meeting new people. Also, she finds that talking to people energizes her. She is open to outdoor activities but prefers group activities that takes on new experiences. Tricia does not have a sweet tooth and her diet is rather healthy

  1. Defining outcome:

As a result to these outcomes we asked Tricia to do tasks helping to improve her diet by eating more fruits and vegetables daily.

Not only in regards to short term solutions but especially in regards to long term solutions. Secondly, as he seemed to like activities involving sport we often sent him those kind of activities.

On the other hand, to achieve a greater balance of activities, we also asked him to try other activities, which he neglects (according to his answers) in his daily life. He seemed to lack social interactions as well as to contemplate about future aspects. We asked him to go for a walk (consciously following the three steps) and to hug someone to target those aspects (Also three steps)

In Terms of short term solutions, we gave him as well as the other participants the same range of methods/activities to help them deal with stressful situation and raise their awareness of the three steps. In his case he didn’t try all of them but especially liked the hugging, which he found hilarious and make him happy.

Interview with participant:

Did you do the task: Most short term solutions I will try, but in the midst of the day sometimes I will forget about it

-Did methods work: I think that it kinda worked but I guess I have to be more mindful towards the process which I wasn’t.

– Do you feel less stressed: It was helpful in disengaging myself from a stressful situation at hand

-Was the messaging annoying: It was okay


From there, we also took down their daily activities to be able to give the suggestions at appropriate timings. We made sure to use a different kind of medium from the one we normally use to communicate with our peers. to send the suggestions, to enhance the user’s experience of receiving notifications from a ‘bot’ rather than us.


In total, 10 peers were tested, including the 4 of us as we tried to carry out the activities. From the feedbacks we gathered, we were able to look into some pointers to improve the application.

In addition, we tried on the usage of the interface by physically printing out each screen and testing it among ourselves. We discovered the the font size mattered especially on different screens, and how much can be read in an individual screen.

We collated all the feedbacks and made amendments to the final application interface.


Overall participants were positive about the suggestions and acknowledged to be felt more relaxed during the period of usage.

Regarding our short term solutions participants seemed liked and understood the 3 -steps method and even came up with other suggestions based on the three steps which proved that people would acquire the 3-step method quickly and were able to extend the range of ideas on their own.

In general all participants had problems conducting long-term stress related solutions like “Play a match of basketball” because they couldn’t bring up the motivation to it. As a reason there is a gap between the usage of long-term to short-term suggestions. Unique suggestions were proven to be well remembered and got positive feedback. As a reason we later introduced more “funny” suggestions. Two wished to get more guidance through the steps, for example through a voice to read methods out loud.

In the following we listed up the more detailed feedback on the various suggestions:

  1. Conscious breathing: Helped people short term to relax and destress.
  2. Cooking: Participants felt helpfully distracted by this activity.
  3. Making Tea: Participants didn’t like the idea as it’s something very usual.
  4. Vending machine:
  5. Praising someone about hid/her work: Worked out really well, all participant felt much better afterwards.

During our process of looking up methods and discussing which ones to include to our application, we necessarily tried out some of the methods on our own. Although we didn’t add our personal outcomes to our research results, to avoid biased data, all of us came to similiar results.

We tested less of the long-term methods because they were time consuming. Still, we liked the process of consciously conduct daily suggestions as well as more abstract ones. Although we felt hilarious about some more abstract ones, like hugging a friend, we got entertained and hence felt better and more relaxed.

With that, we got into work for the final deliverable


Week 12 /  Final Deliverables

Enter iCannde.


ICANNDE_Final Deliverable WIP CS6





Heng Tong

I feel that throughout the whole semester, I am pleasantly happy with the group I am in. I feel that the 4 of us communicated very well with each other, and that we all were able to share the workloads together. In the midst of the ideations stage, we stumbled upon a block where we did not know how to continue. I feel that because we stuck together, the final deliverable is able to come through. I am really surprised by how the whole process actually showed our progress to the final deliverables.  


For me it was great to experience the practical process of design Thinking.  From developing an idea on research based information to finally test a solution. It learned that in this process it’s fine or even necessary to get stuck as it’s part of the process. I think this common depth point helped us to work even more efficient together to finally deliver a helpful solution.  

I really enjoyed working and this group as we supported each other very well. After some time I got the feeling that each of us found his or her distinct role within the group to contribute in his/her own way.


This project had its ups and downs, the constant ups is the group and that we managed to work as a group even though we ran into some difficulties when it came to the project we were doing. I think that we overall had a good phase of idea generation and that we could be creative together and develop and give critique on the proposals we gave within the group. Some of the empathy of our project disappeared in the same moment as we abandoned the vending machine idea.  But we came back and found joy in the app through our descriptions of the three steps the users are supposed to use in their way to a less stressful life.


Coming to this project was quite an uphill climb compared to the norm as the brief was open ended with no direct answers. I guess that was the beauty of it, to see that not all problems can be solved with answers we already know but more on discovering more than what is beyond us. The whole process was a tedious one, but with the most human interaction as we had to constantly go back to our target audience to see if our prototype works. Our group learnt to work with limitations of prototype testing and how we can gather feedback in the most straightforward way. Though the outcome was very much unexpected, it was truly a learning journey to see how design is able to impact much more than we think, how oblivious some people may be to design and the subtle messages we can send across through design without them realising.


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