Here is a link to our project blog:


This is a video my team created to explain our concept (Password: drift).



For DRIFT, we wanted to explore a provocative/uncomfortable space through the lens of HCI. Death is ubiquitous and carries spiritual connotations regardless of the religion one participates in.We wanted to challenge ourselves to design for people who have experienced loss in a modern, future-looking, way.


Our initial means of research was an online survey with over 100 participants we used to gather information about people who have lost loved ones. We learned that the emotions caused by losing someone, while very powerful immediately following the loss, recur as the years go by at times associated with the lost ones (birthdays, anniversaries, death-date).

Expert Interviews

We visited a funeral home and Carnegie Mellon University’s grief counseling offices to conduct expert interviews both about the business side and the personal side of the death/loss process. The funeral home director helped us understand the service aspect of funerals. Funeral work is unique in that it takes an extraordinary amount of patience and empathy to serve the customer. This was further backed up in our interview with a CMU grief counselor who illuminated the nature of grief itself.  He made 3 things very clear to us:

  • grief hits people in waves over time
  • it is NECESSARY to feel grief for the healing process to begin
  • sometimes it is necessary for the conversation with the person who was lost to continue after their passing

We used our research to identify design opportunities in the funeral space.

Design Opportunities and Ideation

There are several areas we identified we could design for, three that we felt were particularly strong were:

  • memorialization of the deceased
  • generating funeral keepsakes
  • handling removal of possessions of the deceased

After generating dozens of ideas in these areas, we came to idea of aiding the grief process with a living memorial to the deceased. Admittedly, this idea pushes the envelope, but we believe that because we picked  a jellyfish for the memorial, it could possibly be seen as more socially acceptable in the future.

Other Possible Directions

While DRIFT is our design solution for the opportunity to memorialize the deceased, we also had strong ideas for the other opportunities.

Generating funeral keepsakes:


Handling removal of possessions of the deceased: