Small Design Decision – Ruocha Wang

“Black Museum” of the series Black Mirror consists of a series of three stories told by a museum narrator that all involve cutting-edge technological connections and transfers with the human brain.

The setup of the hospital looks old-fashioned: bulky medical instruments, decolored wall charts of the brain, wooden doorframes with visible metal pins… making us feel that the stories happened a long time ago. It matches one of the core ideas of Black Mirror that all these disturbing things can already happen, or happen in the near future. However, the “cutting-edge technology” in the story doesn’t exist in our time yet. Therefore there are some small design decisions in the episode that reminds us of the difference between the story world and our world.

The strange yellow “incubator” in the background. We don’t know what it does. But we know it is something related to transferring consciousness.

The blue dots display that occurred many times. Again, we don’t know what it shows. But following this scene the hero mentioned “brain enhancement”, “neural interface” and other terms. The display gives context and makes these concepts more convincing.

A raw of which machines on the table. Are they 3D printers? What are they printing? We don’t know. But it surely it makes us feel that something high-tech is happening in the lab.

Share Your World – Ruocha Wang

Cover Art


Year 2025. Technology makes life better.

Genetic testing walked out of the bio labs. Now you see us with a portable testing device on the street. It’s free, it’s fast, and it’s always good to know more about yourself. A comprehensive prediction of your future is generated real-time as your gene is being tested. What if you find out that you are likely to develop a serious disease, and there is no way you can afford the treatment? We are here to help: Invest in a healthy future by participating in our medical experiments in exchange for full coverage for any treatment.

Thanks to your active contribution in the medical experiments, we are able to accelerate the drug development process. In return, you are more likely to benefit from the more effective drugs the day you actually develop the disease, and it’s all free.

Sounds like charity. But there is no such thing as a free lunch. What you’re selling are your most valuable assets: your gene and your body.

Let’s see what happens next: What we give you is merely 1% of the information from your gene. I take your sample back to the real lab, test it again, then put the result into our database. See strange drug advertisements online? That’s us. Insurance company gives you a higher premium than others? That’s us. Your rich fiance has a second thought about your marriage? That’s all us.

Besides, you never know what we harvest from you in the medical experiments. I don’t know, either. I’m just a tester in the company.

Of course, someone has to do the work. Call us bad people, but your life wouldn’t be any better without us.

Microfiction – Old

Technology makes life better? Sure, for rich people. It’s a total scam. Rich people would never go for “free tests”. Our tests make their lives better.

Every month, there are breakthroughs in interpreting genes. A year ago, when I had the test outside that flee market, they were only able to predict chronic diseases, which I already knew pretty well from my family. Last month, there was a research group that claimed to be able to “predict criminal behavior” for companies. “Background research is faster and deeper than ever before” is their slogan. In the past, it was hard to find participants and conduct an ethical research. Now the researchers just buy database do some math games. You guessed it right, I lost my job this month due to “a fact that the company cannot share with me”.

I feel scared. Testing was a one-time thing. But the result will be read again and again even after I die because my kids also carry half of my genes. Who knows what is going to happen?

Microfiction – New


So they know my genes. So what? They probably also harvest some of my cells in the “medical experiment” for some other research projects like how the HeLa cells were stolen. But I’m getting treatment for my early-onset Alzheimer’s. Without this obvious scam, I can never afford treatment and I probably can’t work or take care of my family anymore. I still need to go to the medical experiment once a week, but I don’t think about it anymore.

I guess for people like me, our most valuable assets are indeed our gene and our body. If you want life to go on, you sell them.

Exploring Practitioners | Ruocha Wang

Practitioner 1 – Monkeycup Plant Care

The Monkeycup conservation garden is located on Penang Hill in Malaysia.


Long tweezer (for picking up “wrong food” in the cup); Shovel and rake (for soil loosening); Clipper (for removing damaged or dead parts); Watering bottles (for feeding weak cups); Dust ball (for sucking out small alien debris from the cup); Sprinkler (for large area watering).

Workstation Documentation

The workstation is located in the garden where the environment is half wild half human-controlled. To preserve the nature of the garden, the practitioner tries to leave as little trace as possible. She carries all the tools with her, which is not too many.

Process Documentation

The plant care work is carried out throughout the day. If the practitioner spots a dying cup, she first observes the condition of the cup: is it damaged by human? is it not catching enough food? is the mother tree doing well? Then she makes a decision: to feed it with the nutritious solution, or to remove it. If she sees debris in the cup that isn’t supposed to be in there and might harm the cup, she removes it using a long tweezer or a dust ball. This requires high skill as the cup cannot be touched. Once a day she sprinkles the garden gently, which also takes a long time.

Pain Points

As a conservation garden, they need support from tourists. But not all tourists are respectful nature lovers. Sometimes the practitioner finds damaged cups that are popped by hands or cup caps that are torn. The garden finds it difficult to balance between bringing people closer to nature and protecting fragile rare species. Showing tourists the conservation procedure that is done with great care can be a way to educate them.

Practitioner 2 – Plantable Packaging

This packaging is made by designers Bakker and van Dijk.


Blender (to further break up the fiber from the cutting waste); Basin (to soak the cutting waste); Filter screen and molds (to shape and drain the soaked cutting waste); Stamp (to print on the packaging).

Workstation Documentation

The workstation can be anywhere, preferably near the source of cutting waste and had abundant sunshine. As there is no artificial additive and no pollutive matters, the water drained can be reused or discharged into nature.

Process Documentation

The practitioner first collects the cutting waste, then blend them and soak them in water. They pour the mixture into a mold with a draining filter at the bottom. When the water is drained, the mixture is shaped. Then the practitioner lets the sunshine do its magic. When the pieces are thin and hard, they can be printed with labelling information. As food packages are not meant to last long, this plantable, easily degradable packaging is a solution to plastic waste.

Pain Points

The process of making the packaging material required intensive labour. It is a great concept in terms of material and energy, but the manufacturing cost is hindering its practice in industries. However, as more people are aware of the environmental issues and are willing to pay more for more responsible products, this is also an opportunity.

Practitioner 3 – DNA Sequencing in the Wild

Dr. Philip Johns from Yale-NUS introduced his portable DNA sequencing toolkit to us, thanks to his and Andy’s kind help.


Direct DNA sequencer (low cost, immediate sequencing, but the preparation work is tedious); Thermal Cycler (to amplify copies of a specific segment); Pipette (to transport a measured volume of liquid); Electrophoresis (to separate charged DNA according to size); LED Transilluminator (to help read the electrophoresis result); Laptop (to analyze data); Power  supply.

Workstation Documentation

Take otter feces DNA sequencing as an example. The practitioner brings the toolkit with him into the wild. They acquire samples from the sea and analyze them using the workstation. The analyzing work is not done in the wild, but in a small lab where there are power supply and workplace.

Process Documentation

After the sample is acquired and processed, the practitioner conducts PCR to amplify copies of the specific segment they look into. Then using electrophoresis and a LED transilluminator, the DNA fragments are separated and read. The data is then analyzed by computer to generate the real DNA sequence.

Pain Points

For faster direct DNA sequencing, MinION can be used, but the cost is higher than traditional ways of sequencing. A lot of time and different machines are needed. The plastic waste generated from the experiment is hard to neglect, especially if the experiment is carried out fully in the wild in the future.

Wearable Research – Ruocha Wang


Wingsuit formation flight over a coast | Wikipedia
Drawing of a Wingsuit

Practice it works in

Wingsuit flying is the sport of flying through the air using a wingsuit which adds surface area to the human body to enable a significant increase in lift. 

Specific use

The modern wingsuit, first developed in the late 1990s, creates a surface area with fabric between the legs and under the arms [1]. It allows the user to “fly” in the air after jumping from the aircraft and before deploying a parachute.


With most parts made with fabric, the wingsuit does not constrain body movements very much. It even facilitates the “flying” posture of the user.

Utility vs Fashionability

We can’t stress utility enough, as wingsuit flying is considered an extreme sport. If we look at available products in the market, they are mostly made of thick fabric in plain color, without patterns or excess accessories. Fashionability is different from normal clothing. What considered fashionable for a wingsuit might be thick stitches and small shiny metal parts.

Hood Wearable Musical Instrument

Rhó and the Hood Wearable Musical Instrument | Georgia Tech Wearable Computing Center

Practice it works in

Hood is designed for music artists. It is about “building a way of making music that also involves self-expression”.

Specific use

The artist plays music by touching the soft keyboard on his right chest. It could take a while to learn, but once the artist masters the new instrument, it becomes part of his body and helps him express himself.


Hood consists of soft sensors, portable processor, a communication module, and breathable light fabric. The artist can easily carry it on the body without extra effort.

Utility vs Fashionability

Hood is made for music performance. The shape of Hood a strip that crosses the neck and hangs on both sides of the body. The donning (wearing on) and doffing (taking off) process are simple and fast. The LED lights provide feedback to the artist and the audience. What considered fashionable for art performance here is what enhances the expression of individuality of the artist. Hood certainly does well.