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Eye Phone


WHAT IS IT:  Eye Phone is a technique that provides researchers/students an opportunity to practice observations skills. Using a smart phone, take photos to build a visual and verbal narrative that tells a story about the “topic” you are currently working on. Annotate your image (photo) with a description of what you see and why you have taken it. 

Discipline yourself to limit the number of photos per setting. For example take only a maximum of 8 photos and then only use a double-tweet (280 characters) in total to annotate the photos.


Eye Phone [1] is a contemporary method for design researchers to observe, capture and collect photographic artifacts involves humans and objects in a specific setting.  

Design inspired by observing real people living their real lives is critical to understanding people's choices and anticipated behaviours. 


  • Helps practice keen observation.

  • Makes thinking about what you are seeing and why you are choosing to capture that “visual thought”, explicit.

  • Helps develop visual storytelling skills.



  • Identify a specific context to observe (people, place and space) and bring your smart phone. 

  • Observe the context and explore potential photographic opportunities. 

  • Identify a few key spaces/places/situations and take photos. Annotate those photos by stating what you believe to be the scene and why you chose to take the photo. 

  • Reflect on selected images. Ask yourself: How do I see? How do I record and store what I see? What does it mean? 

  • If taking photos of people's faces or personal materials, ensure you have their consent (be ethical).  

[1] “Eye Phone" is a concept originally proposed by Professor Moura Quayle and co-evolved with Dr. Angèle Beausoleil.

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