How to use the Post-Human-Centered Design Method to envision the future?

Jesse Gao
9 min readMar 29, 2021


Project Date: 7.1.2020
Duration: 8 weeks
My role:Experience designer, AR prototyper, director of storytelling
Keywords: Post-HCD Method, Mixed Reality, New Normal


People will adapt to the new normal eventually due to COVID -19. The work-from-home policy shapes the people and they start to embrace new technologies in the digital era, and value community more than ever. Society has been seeking a way out from the economic shutdown that complements the entertaining aspect of people’s lives. What can we do for the usual entertainment if we have to live with the virus?

Trends and present design situation by John Payne | Verizon

Based on the given situation, we decide to focus on the Club topic.

Introducing Mixxy

For young people living in the post-COVID world, who seek authentic drinking and clubbing experience while keeping the social distance.
We provide Mixxy, an MR-based virtual clubbing service, and delivery service which includes our dedicated smart glass, that helps clubbers feel the authentic club culture and stay connected with people in their favorite club environment. Unlike the awkward Zoom clubbing or in-person clubbing that risks life. We offer an immersive and multi-sensorial enhanced experience to provide various modes of interaction between people while keeping them safe at home.

1. Unboxing service package

For a better immersive drinking experience, we provide a premium package, which includes several ready-to-mix cocktails and smart glass, as well as AR accessories before entering the platform.

2. Smart glass

The smart glass has high and low volume two modes that meet the requirements of different cocktails. The Bottom housing could provide correct feedback when users toasting, and visual effects based on different drinks.

3. Ordering drinks socially

Users can open the bar menu at any time, selecting drinks they want to place on their own glass or send to others as gifts.

4. Virtual toast

Toasting to a screen is kind of awkward currently, but with the help of haptic feedback comes from the Mixxy Glass and the special visual effects, clubbers can drink virtually in the reality.

5. Premium dizziness effect

When the clubber gets tipsy, Premium Dizziness included in the drinking package will provide several visual effects to make the clubber stand out in the virtual world. On-fire, Speedy, Flying, etc.

Method & Process

The Challenge of human-centered design:

A focus on the individual “user,” their “problems,” and “needs” is necessary but no longer sufficient for the increasingly complex, interdependent socio-technological environment we are working and living within. We need to evolve our approach to accommodate our partnership with software-driven products and their use as an extension of ourselves — products we act through, not just with.

Human-Centered Design

Post-Human-Centered Design Method

A post-human-centered design approach recognizes that people and their technology are an integral part of the constantly evolving socio-technical system we live and work with and through. We need to incorporate new methods we can use to:

  • expand beyond the individualized focus of HCD
  • emphasize emergent behavior of systems
  • explore multiple future outcomes and externalities
  • enable live adaptation of through design approaches

Step1: Understanding Context

1. 1 Scenario planning based on social impact

based on the social and digital preferences of people in the near future, we use a 2 by 2 to propose our scenario and name the group of people featured in each section.

1.2 Desk research-emerging technologies

“Virtual nightclub experience can’t be far off.”

1. From DJ’s perspective, cheaper products in a Virtual environment make DJ’s work easier. “Right now, if you…

2. Emerging technologies — AR headset could provide better interaction with the audience. “Terryn at Vinyl Reality is also…

3. Clubbers are willing to attend online concerts. “Online music events are just getting started…

4. Bold attempt in VR has been proved right. “Epic Games has undoubtedly provided the biggest…

1.3 Current solutions for an immersive social experience

After investigating Facebook Horizon, Microsoft Altspace, VRChat, Mozilla Hubs, and Hoppin, we found that in order to make users fully express themselves in online concerts or clubs. They need to have the ability to transform their actual movement into digital form very easily and straightforwardly.
Body Motion Capture and Human Pose Estimation technique meet the needs.
And for the sake of easy to start and future promising, single-camera like webcam, phone-cam is our required hardware.

Pose Animator, Hyprface, and Microsoft’s Kinect provide good approach ideas.

Step2: Generative Research

According to current trends, we decide to narrow down our target group, focusing on “E-topia” — Those who are open to new digital stuff and willing to be social in a large community.

User Interview

To better understand this group of people, we made several interviews and a persona in the end for building our story. With different concerns based on different roles (DJs and clubbers), we interview 6 people to understand their needs and wishes.

Here are the insights from them:

1. Virtual experience *is not a replacement* of real-world, but should be a stand-alone, unique experience.
2. Id people choose virtual clubs, they wish to feel the *synchronization of more sensations* like smell and touch, besides the improvement of vision and sound effects.
3. People value most the *social function* which is a side product of clubs.
4. Some people also value the *foundational props* of clubs.

According to the insights, we made the target user persona


provide a contactless and safe way of clubbing for young people like JD in the new normal of a post-COVID world so that they can experience in-club drinking to stay connected with people and enjoy themselves?

Step3: Synthesize Ideas

3.1 Structured Planning

We use 5E as our framework to identify the whole in-person experience, and Structured Planning to synthesize the opportunities either by adding new functions or improving current ones.

3.2 Storyboard

The Mixxy platform concept should look like what this storyboard demonstrates.

3.3 DSM narrow down the idea

Thanks to DSM (Dependency Structure Matrix) method, therefore, we keep the main related functions as many as possible, understanding that drinking, dancing, and socializing are the core of this project.

3.4 Value proposition canvas

To deep understand user’s feelings while they are drinking, dancing, and socializing in clubs, we use value proposition canvas to point out the opportunities areas which lead us to the detailed design touchpoints.

Design Concepts

The service map shows what products and functions are included in this service, specifically for drinking and socializing while dancing in Mixxy.

The order & delivery cocktail service with the smart glass satisfy users’ drinking needs with special virtual effects. And other AR accessories will enhance the overall experience.

Users’ journey in Mixxy club

  • Unboxing: users will get the packages and set up their home environment with all the sensors we provide to capture their movement and feelings.
  • Preparation: After setting up all the equipment, they can choose the drink before entering the club. Currently, they can see through the real space.
  • Start Drinking: Once they get into the club, they can find the visual of the drink has been changed, they can order “drinks” for themselves or send them as gifts just by the simple in-air gesture. Here the drinks just main the special visual skins for different alcohol.
  • Party Climax: While the atmosphere getting higher, users can toast with their virtual friends, the smart glass could provide needed feedback. And the system will let them experience a brand new “Dizziness” situation — letting them fly in the club and have an amazing body visual effect in front of others.


I use Manamotion SDK to help realize hand tracking function in Unity AR, Image tracking to represent the virtual cocktail “try-on”. And make some cocktail models in Unity.

Here is a short video that shows the basic UX design in this scenario.

For the detailed design process of this interaction design, please see Part 2.

Next Steps

For such a near-future product, even though we try to optimize users’ experience, there are still some unintended consequences that appear with the benefits along. As responsible designers, I need to take those into account in my design process and try to minimize them at the beginning.

1. Online Fraud

In a highly immersive digital environment, people can utilize their fraudulent avatars to make others believe they are someone they are actually not. Especially in a club environment, it’s possible there will have people hired by the club to lure you into buying more drinks.

2. Privacy Issue

Even with the privacy settings, it’s inevitable that some people may expose their vulnerability when they are drunk and get exploited by people with bad intentions. It may also cause social awkwardness when being over transparent about how drunk they are between friends.

3. Disturbing Noise

Without a dedicated, usually below-ground club space, it can be too noisy and disturbing to the neighborhood when people are having fun dancing and drinking at home.

Final Reflections

Firstly, I enjoy this kind of teamwork in a challenging environment — everyone tried their best to contribute to this project, using the skills that they mastered before and the outcomes are pretty good. Of course, we need to learn some new skills and bring what we learned in ID to achieve some part of this concept. I also appreciate this master challenge manager- John Payne, with his Post-Human-Centered Design method and weekly meetings for pushing our minds further, we complete our final deliverable successfully.
Secondly, before COVID, I had a chance to design for Mixed Reality. At that time, it was new for me, who usually deal with 2D stuff on screens. Thanks to my teacher and a friendly XRlady I knew on Youtube, Ayşegül Yönet from Microsoft, (I am the first 10 followers of her channel), they gave me the right direction and rich resources to explore in the coming XR world. Because of this, I had the confidence to boldly use the mixed reality knowledge here and convinced my teammate to design around MR, and eventually won the challenge.
Last but not least, the social innovation topic is quite challenging. It is not like the projects you’ve done in school or working in firms, we have to think more and consider every detailed aspect, from the precise user interactions, allowing users to easily adopt the new form, to social impacts, optimizing unintended consequences by smart designs. I learned a lot.



Jesse Gao

An XR researcher, hoping to bring more actuated physicality to future work;Keep in touch: