Story-based ambient interfaces that assist with positive behavior change.

What is the idea behind WhoIsZuki?

WhoIsZuki is a narrative-based app that utilizes beautiful artwork and ambient displays to increase engagement and connection with a user to drive positive health behavior changes. Rather than utilizing the quantitative, dashboard-based design of many mobile health apps, WhoIsZuki seeks to provide an alternative to this by utilizing the power of visual narratives to promote curiosity, engagement, and self-reflection.

In WhoIsZuki, the narrative is accompanied by artwork that visually shows the story's progession. Alongside the traditional methods of showing an activity log, WhoIsZuki uses visual elements in the app such as flowers to represent activities that a user has completed. As the user completes their individually-set goals, they unlock new chapters in the story. WhoIsZuki also utilizes ambient, glanceable reminders by changing a user's wallpaper and lockscreen to the latest unlocked chapter's artwork.

Related paper

Designing Ambient Narrative-Based Interfaces to Reflect and Motivate Physical Activity [Paper] [CHI Website] [Video]
Elizabeth L. Murnane, Xin Jiang, Anna Kong, Michelle Park, Weili Shi, Connor Soohoo, Luke Vink, Iris Xia, Yu Xin, John Yang-Sammataro, Grace Young, Jenny Zhi, Paula Moya, James A. Landay
CHI, 2020

What is the initial version about?

The application revolves around a story about a friendly alien named Zuki from the planet Thern. Zuki loves Thern, but unfortunately, Thern was ravaged by global warming and many plant species and animals have died. Multiple Zernians, including Zuki's brother, have ventured to earth to collect DNA samples and bring them to Thern to restore the biodiversity. When Zuki receives an SOS call from his brother, he decides to journey to earth to help him and the other Thernians. As the user reaches their health goals, the story gradually unlocks and brings Zuki closer to finding his brother.

Our goal is to build upon our initial concept with variations of narratives, including culturally-tailored narratives and narratives with positive-negative incentives. Beyond health-related behavior change, we also seek to study increasing eco-friendly lifestyle choices in the future.


The current version of WhoIsZuki was designed and developed by many of our alumni and active team members.