top of page

Scar Story 

Brief: Find stories behind scars. Experiments about how to share scars and stories through interactive and delighted ways. 

Field: Experience Design, Research

Role: Individual Work

Timeline: 2 month | 2019


Design an interactive and delightful experience that enables people to share their meaningful or/and special scar and scar story with others.

Issue Statement 

Scars are unique marks left during our life. Scars are a part of life and show what you've been through. Some scars are forgotten, but for some people, scars are special and memorable because they are closely related to a piece of impressive memory, which can be happy or sad. Moreover, some scars may reflect social issues, such as self-harming and the public's awareness of cancer surgery. Sharing the memories or stories about scars is a very personal thing, but a lot of evidence shows that sharing is a good way to help sharer accept their scars, to help others who have similar problems, and to arouse the public's attention to a specific group or issue.



Design as Research: Research is embedded within the entire design process, I use research to understand the topics and take it as a process of creation.

Universal Design: the design of the products is accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors. Scar is a universal problem, so I want the experience to be accessible to everyone. 

Phenomenology: Study structures of experience and consciousness as experienced from the subjective or first-person point of view. I want to create a unique experience for everyone and appreciate people's subjective feedback.

*This is the initial research and experiments of the project. I used different methods to figure out which is a more suitable medium for the experience, an interactive installation, a VR experience, or an AR experience. The project starts from physical space and then move to digital space. check the final result here.

Stakeholder Map

Although a scar is a very common matter among people, it has more influence on some groups than others. Initially, I divided the target users of the experience into two different main groups -- storyteller and audience. Storytellers are people who have memorable scars, including patients, aged people, athletes, children, police, etc. Potentially, everyone who has scars can be a storyteller. The main audience will be storytellers themselves. The audience can also be people who are close to them, groups who care about the social issue that the scar is related to, and/or strangers who have similar scar experience.

pasted image 0.png
Stakehoulder Map
Experiment 1 - Survey
  • People’s awareness of memorable scars

  • Collecting basic information about memorable scars

  • Getting to know people’s initial willingness to sharing scar stories

Method: online survey
First version (Original version)

6 questions, 14 replies

Feedback :( 

  • Lack of context and description

  • Missing important questions such as gender and age

  • Too many required questions

  • Lack of contact information for later research

Second version (Updated version)

11 questions, 27 replies


  • Add context and privacy declaration

  • Add demographic questions

  • Make the question description friendly  

  • Make all questions optional

  • Improve options for questions about people’s willingnessLack of context and description​

Results and feedback

People's feeling about scars changes along with the time. Many people felt upset about their scar, but most of them accept their scars now. I am very curious about the reason for their change of feelings.


The results show that different people have a different level of willingness to describe their scar stories. And they care about privacy. But the results may not very accurate due to the low number of participants.


Many people don't want to share their personal stories through an online survey. When I sent out the form to gather information, some of my friends express their concerns about privacy. Some participants told me their scar stories directly instead of writing them down on the form. 

EXP 1 - Survey
Experiment 2 - Prototype
  • To know people’s feeling about sharing scars through an interactive way 

  • To confirm if sharing scars through a physical form is more acceptable than through a digital form

Method: paper prototype
Results and feedback

13 participants, 6 further conversations

  • Every person who received the experiment marked their scars except they didn’t have one

  • They through it is a very simple, playful and intuitive form. They liked The Gingerbread Man.

  • It was much easier to get results than the online questionnaire (experiment 1)

  • A good start of a conversation

  • Many people started to talk about their scars voluntary

  • Some of the people showed me their scars voluntary

EXP 2 - Prototype
Experiment 3 - Prototype
  • To know people’s reactions about different forms of scar presentation

  • To know people’s willingness to sharing scars in these ways  

  • To test if materials and textures matter when present scars. How?

Method: play with materials
Experiment 3-1

Type: Photography

Technique: Close-up

Visual: Cleaning style

The three images shown right are my scars that are special for me.

Experiment 3-2

Type: Installation


  • Cotton - shape the appearance of a scar

  • Balloon - tie a note of a scar to it

  • Wood - base

Visual: Whitish style, natural, textural

Experiment 3-3

Type: Painting


  • Felt - scar’s shape

Visual: Grayish, textural

Interaction: Come close to appreciate the scar painting, then the sound of the occasion that I got the scar plays. 

Results and feedback
  • Audience prefer physical prototypes than digital images.

  • Different materials lead to different actions that how the audience interact with prototypes. They like to look at the felt painting while play with cotton and balloon.

  • The relationship between scars and the form of prototypes and the use of materials is not intuitive to audience. Images are much more straightforward.

EXP 3 - Prototype
Experiment 4 - Workshop
  • Give participants a chance to represent their own scars.

  • Understand how different people interpret their scars by observing their behavior during the scar-making process.

Method: workshop

There were three main steps for each participant.

  1. Each participant wrote down three keywords to describe their scars.

  2. Shaped their scars by using provided materials. In the meantime, I observed the process without interrupting them.

  3. I talked to each person about their feelings about the whole process of shaping scars in a physical way by using symbolic materials.


The process took around 10 minutes for each participant.

Results and feedback

6 participants

  • When making a scar, everyone focused on different aspects of scars, such as shape, depth, cause.

  • Their choice of materials varies even though materials are limited.

  • They were all focused and recalled the occasion when they got the scar through the process.

  • One participant said, “the memory about the scar is very painful, I still can feel it now, but shaping my scar is a very playful experience”. 

EXP 4 - Workshop
Moving to Digital Space

 After several experiments, I realized the limitation of representing a scar and its story in physical space: (1) limited materials, (2) less dynamic. It is hard to find a way that accords to everyone’s preference for presenting a scar and its story. In the age of multimedia, creative coding, AR, and VR can also be used to present a scar in a creative and abstract way. So I started doing more research on immersive technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and interactive installations. Then I also researched data collection methods for digital scar representation. 

In the end, I chose virtual reality as the medium and used EEG (brainwave) as the data collection method.


 Virtual Reality

Higher engagement

More private space

More opportunities to customize

 Virtual Reality

Higher engagement

More private space

More opportunities to customize

Epoc-product-image (1).png

EEG (Brainwave)

Highly private

Directly reflect thoughts about scars

New user interface

My project started with physical prototypes and moved toward digital space. Each aforementioned experiment provided valuable insights that helped me propose the final form of the project -- a virtual reality meditation experience that visualizes scars information by using EEG data. My assumption is that the experience can positively impact people’s cognition about their scars. I hope people can rethink their scars after trying my experience.

Feel free to check my final project and results here.

Moving to Digital Space
bottom of page