Visualizing, preserving, and experiencing memories in augmented reality

Project Summary


Interaction Design

Visual Design


Design Concepts

Concept Video


Nine weeks


Interaction Flow

3D Modeled Objects

Concept Video

Presentation & Pitch



Totem is a concept for a augmented reality experience using Microsoft’s Hololens, focusing on visualizing, preserving, and sharing memories.

This product was created in conjunction with sponsors for Microsoft specifically for the 2017 Microsoft Design Expo, and answered the prompt to create Intentional Design for Positive Cultural Impact in Mixed Reality. Our team really wanted to focus on creating an entirely new mixed reality experience instead of using expected and inappropriate 2D based UI in a 3D world.



Our teamed formed with the initial idea that we would be creating an experience within the context of the home. After some secondary research we came to the conclusion that homes can be defined as an amalgamation of memories, collections, and people. To build on top of that, we realized that to focus on these three aspects really meant that we were focusing on objects, relationships, and experiences. Totem is the intersection of these three ideas.

Conceptual Model

Reminiscing and memory are an inherent part of our lives. Totem works to express and visualize these memories and anchor them to specific objects in our homes.

By using gesture, voice, and both user collected and open source data to recreate environments of memories, users can tailor their experiences to be as accurate to their own memories as possible. The beauty of personal memory is that it is fallible and not just total recall, which is why we decided to let users create these memories instead of just having a device record their lives.


Before jumping into the details of the way the interactions would look, we wanted to think of a scenario in which this would be used. How could we depict our general idea without getting too focused on prototyping just yet? We created a storyboard that depict a scenario in which the daughter of a family finds an old mug that is filled with memories, and the family recreates those memories together.

Early Prototypes

In order to depict the initial design execution of our idea, we created a series of short gifs and images to demonstrate how these interactions may look. I was very interested in staying away from 2D inspired interfaces that mimic desktop or mobile interactions. With the ability to explore 3D interactions as well as gesture and voice, we wanted to push the boundaries of these design paradigms.

Interaction Flow

We decided to solidify both the concept of our storyboard as well as the functionality of our UI by creating an comprehensive interaction flow to detail the user's journey and experience.

Final Prototype

Finally we created a video prototype (available at the top of the page, and also here) to tell the story of not only how Totem works, but why it matters.


Interaction Design

As augment reality is such a new field, I think it would be fun to push the boundaries of what we assume interactions in virtual spaces look like

Build It

How interesting would it be to build this? I'd love to explore the challenges of what it's like to actually execture for this type of product

Test It

I'd like to explore how we might test this type of product, and gather feedback on emerging technologies like this