Journey and its outcome

The Serendipity called OzCHI Student Design Challenge…

The challenge given was to identify an activity that is currently a mostly isolated experience, and to augment/rethink/design this activity to allow for serendipitous encounters.

Our understanding of the brief gave us the aforementioned insights and opportunity areas where we could work on. In this journey, we encountered many serendipitous moments which helped us in deeper understanding of this experience.

  • The word serendipity becomes suddenly so important in a day of our life!
  • Accidental discovery of the unnoticed functionality of the AC remote.
  • Sudden humor during a serious discussion reminds of serendipity.
  • Our friend falling, gives a sudden idea.
  • The Eureka moment wherein we accidentally discovered our final concept!

In our final concept we have incorporated the following insights:

1. Fortunate accident: Suddenly finding some information of a domain outside of your usual interests.

2. Randomness: Information would be displayed on the basis of an incompressible algorithm.

3. Spontaneous: Unpredictability of the next information that a user would receive.

Our idea tries to have ‘random links‘ rather than ‘tailored links’ for user when the user opens a new tab of the browser.
And thus encountering the unknown information that he never knew existed could turn out to be a Serendipity each time!

In Eli Pariser’s book on Filter Bubbles, he discusses the possibility of the internet even hiding information from us. According to him, “Filter bubble is this unique, personal universe of information created just for you by this array of personalizing filters. It’s invisible and it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape.” Hence, we are proposing an idea to make possible for the internet to give information outside the narrow realm of individualistic interests’ suggestions.

Because the results of the random output algorithm would be vastly distributed over a wide range of domains, the information given might not be as useful each time. Hence this in yet another way, keeps the idea of serendipity intact!

Also according to the Zen philosophy, it was followed that if a person wants to pursue painting and art, then he must do it for twelve years after which he must change to another entirely different field example of mathematics for twelve years, and then revert back to painting with a new energy and ideas. Hence our idea encourages the users to deviate in their information collection patterns, accidentally, away from their usual interests and explore other fields as well.

Our Final outcome can be an add-on for firefox browser and as an extension for google chrome or for similar extensions for other browsers to provide the aforementioned features.This will need further technological developments to go to the next step from prototyping.




References used throughout the challenge:
Book: The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser
(published by penguin group)
Paper articles visited:
1.Designing for Serendipity: Supporting End-User Configuration of Ubiquitous
Computing Environments(Newman M,Sedivy J, Neuworth C, Edwards W, Hong J),[2002]
2.Explaining Serendipitous Recognition in Design(Kolodner J, College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology)[1994]



Omna Toshniwal
Rhythm Agarwal
Niyati Gupta
Astha Dhawan
Arnita Saini


Bringing to life

According to our idea, we had to come up with a working video prototype which we have just finished working on.

Now its time to upload the video but we are running behind time a little bit. Hope we make it on time!

Please click on picture for prototype

Personas and Scenarios

The following are two main personas that we used to empathize
with the user.



Final Idea, a U-Turn

Eureka moment!

From the ideation phase, we finalized on the #4 idea, which was based on giving a serendipitous experience while the user opens a new tab. This experience was in the form of a webpage or a website that would open when a new tab is opened, relating to the user’s interests, which were derived from History and Bookmarks previously used by him/her.

After the finalization of this idea, on a short walk to the water cooler, one of us came across the idea of having a path-breaking and accidental revelation of information to the user. This was our serendipitous moment as she recalled an image of a concept Filter bubble, from her sub-conscience memory.
Retracing back to the essence of serendipity which  lies in meeting someone new or something never expected and henceforth a realization that the internet is currently not providing us exactly this.

This could be compared with the following example.
While traveling through the city, we come across many different experiences and encounters which are synonymous to a series of serendipitous experiences. Now let us suppose our relatives to symbolize our personal interests and unknown people who we shall meet in the city to symbolize the entirely unknown world of knowledge. What we propose is that the internet should encourage the dissipation of unexplored knowledge as against to the existing ways of suggesting users with webpages and websites pertaining to their personal interests only.



Person A



Person B

Considering the above two pictures to be information about personal interests given on the web by two people Person A and Person B, respectively. The idea is that on a new tab opened by Person A, a webpage or website is suggested automatically pertaining to a domain of interest of any other user over the web, here, Person B. For example, a webpage/website suggested to Person A could be of a domain like CAD, gaming etc. which Person A otherwise could possibly have missed gaining information about.


Connecting the dots

The insights and keywords that came as the fruition of the affinity were our dots.
Some of them being:
Association, Randomness, Surprise, Spontaneous, Mood, Emotions, Joyful accidents, Momentary, Connectedness, Memories, Unpredictable, Personal recognition, Subconscious.
The target areas where serendipitous experiences can be incorporated could be, Unknown environment, Boredom, Monotony, Trivial, Solitude.
Our goal: encountering physical spaces to encourage serendipity and bringing them in a virtual realm.



A brief description of our four short-listed ideas,

1. Floor projection – Considering the floor tiles as enlarged pixels on which surrealist images project randomly, based on the areas and directions of walking.
2. Restauro Luck – Based on luck, a random distribution of choices given to customers in the context of cuisine, drinks, cutlery in restaurants.
3. Lingui Surprise – Greeting in your mother tongue at an international airport by identification of your nationality by using passport.
4. Acci Tab – While adding a new tab, accidental opening of webpages and websites pertaining to your interest based on the History and Bookmarks.


The serendipity moment

Humpty dumpty without even a wall, walking talking there she had a fall!

After a grueling round of brainstorming and quite a tiresome mind-‘blog’ling session,
our brains drained all so chained, efforts in vain, with cognitive pains, the images so
grained. Argh! Finally decided upon going to the coffee shop and breathe fresh air,
and then it happens! Our dear friend Astha had a great fall which was essentially as
refreshing to us as awkward for her, which leads us to our opening score of ideas.
The idea goes like, having an installation in an amusement park like a pit in disguise,
which works on a random algorithm wherein a certain number of pitfalls located at
different locations activate at different times depending on the event of a person
qualifying certain parameters walking over that particular pitfall.




After a good break accompanied by hot samosas and chai, we moved on to
further ideation.


Diving in!

Our approach towards churning the essence,

Jotting down key words, listing isolated, boring activities, mind-storming as many
connotations of serendipity. Identifying the situations and physical spaces where such
serendipitous experiences are encountered.

Making an affinity diagram to analyze user psychology and situations to develop insights
upon which further ideation shall be done.


Peeking into others’ minds, letting thoughts unwind!

Studying articles, papers and blogs about works done in serendipity leading to design for
enriching experiences. Performing qualitative research by one on one interaction with
people waiting at bus stops, students having breakfast in the hostel mess, we gained more
insights and perspectives about their serendipitous experiences and isolated activities.

Relating to their experiences with ours was yet another serendipity.


Getting started!

With the early sun rays and sleepy eyes, we read the brief, the challenge arrives!

Serendipity by our initial understanding is:

Adding of a pleasant surprise, delightful design far sighted, sagacity,
interesting and new encounters, sudden appearance of something or someone
associated with self, accidental revelation of information element of randomness
in everyday experiences.

And suddenly a word becomes so important, Serendipity!





Namaste! Welcome to our blog. This blog is specially made for OzCHI Student Challenge.

We are Omna, Rhythm, Arnita, Niyati and Astha from the Indian Institute  of  Technology, Guwahati, India. We’ll keep you updated with our design process and you’ll find our submissions here. Get set go!