Robert Boler
service + software designer

Blindfold app

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Breaking physical filter bubbles with Blindfold

An independently created iOS app for surprise destinations based on your mood

  • Client independent

  • Roles product designer, data preparation, marketer

  • Duration 8 months

  • Traits #mobile app #local #social

Addressing research-fatigue and filter bubbles

Blindfold aims to restore a little spontaneity and surprise to your outings, in a world of petty reviews and recommendation algorithms. It can also help you break out of your filter bubble and social circles, helping you explore parts of your city you might otherwise never bother to see.

How our process pivoted through the hackathon

Inspired at a transportation-themed hackathon, our original concept was a personalized audio tour for driving in a new city. Once we looked at the actual experience of using it, we realized it was terribly overwhelming and swung in the opposite direction—what if going out involved zero planning and zero decision-making?

 
Pitching Blindfold (originally called "Destiny") at the transportation-themed hackathon Startup Drive

Pitching Blindfold (originally called "Destiny") at the transportation-themed hackathon Startup Drive

We removed as many decision points as possible that would still allow for a good experience. No personalization, no cuisine filters, not even a preview of where you’re going. Just some coordinates and a dream.

Modern smartphone users are so used to doing tons of research to decide their experiences ahead of time. Simply obfuscating the destination (until arrival, via geofencing) created much more of the anticipation and much less of the decision paralysis involved in selecting places to eat, drink, dance, or otherwise go out.

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Carving out personal time to design, build, and test

A tiny designer-developer duo, we had to make time on the side to categorize necessary place data, design, develop, and test. We fine-tuned things like transportation mode distance, open hours, and the geofence range.

Our first test (with people other than ourselves) actually took us to where a friend of ours was already eating, without us knowing it. Truly life-changing.

 

Our inaugural test run of Blindfold (previously named Destiny)

The results

We quickly realized that the random nature of Blindfold took us to parts of town and around groups of people we'd never think to see on our own, breaking our habit loops and constructed filter bubbles.

Blindfold is available in the iOS App Store (five stars, as of this post)! It resulted in our invitation to the SXSW 2018 Place by Design public space design competition, and impresses our indecisive friends at dinnertime.


 

To learn more about this project, other design work, or random bicycle trivia,

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