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Moodscape - Travel recommended by emotional moods

 

Moodscape is a travel application that utilizes Gen AI to provide personalized travel recommendations. By analyzing your current mood and understanding your desired emotional state, Moodscape goes beyond traditional travel apps by curating a unique and tailored travel experience just for you.

Role

Full Stack Designer

Type of Work

Thesis Project

Duration

4 months

Responsiblity

Tools

UI Design, UX Research,

Wireframing, Prototyping, 

Developing

Figma, Miro, Notion

Category

App Design

Context

Moodscape is a travel application that utilizes advanced recommendation algorithms to provide personalized travel recommendations. By analyzing your current mood and understanding your desired emotional state, Moodscape goes beyond traditional travel apps by curating a unique and tailored travel experience just for you.

Imagine this: You wake up on a beautiful sunny morning, feeling adventurous and craving excitement. With Moodscape, you can simply input your current emotions and let the app do the rest. Whether you're seeking a thrilling outdoor adventure, a serene escape, or a vibrant and lively city experience, Moodscape will suggest the perfect destinations that align with your desired emotional journey.

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Problem Statement

Goals

How might we receive travel recommendations tailored not just to our physical preferences but also to our desired emotional states?

Build an app that:

  • Understands current emotions

  • Understands desired emotions

  • Recommends travel journeys based on desired emotional state

  • Tracks the emotional reviews for better recommendation

Impact

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Travel guided by emotions, or Emotional Tourism, is currently a nascent market, but the global wellness tourism industry, which often incorporates emotional well-being elements, is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2024 according to the Global Wellness Institute. This rapid growth highlights the increasing consumer interest in travel that prioritizes well-being, making Emotional Tourism a promising and timely concept. Studies show that 72% of people experience emotional well-being improvement after traveling based on their emotions. Furthermore, 78% of travelers prioritize self-discovery during their journeys.

In my own study here, I found that 90% of user test participants reported that their current and desired mood was accurately assessed, and were happy with the travel itinerary recommended by Moodscape. Impressively, 80% stated they would definitely visit the destination suggested by the app.

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Personally, this project highlighted the powerful combination of psychology, technology, and travel, which ultimately gave birth to Moodscape. Learning from these multi-disciplinary fields enhances the depth and effectiveness of emotional-based travel planning. However, if Moodscape were to be launched in the real market, this is how I speculate the impact could be.

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EMPATHISE

Professional Guidance

My professor Ian Pollock recommended I speak to Dr. Suzy Ross, who is a Recreational Therapist and Professor at SJSU, CA. Experience of 20+ years in the field of Recreation Therapy. Exploring Transformative Travel as her latest project and getting her guidance directly helped me with a lot of roadblocks.

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Dr. Suzy authored “Transformative Travel: An Enjoyable Way to Foster Radical Change” where I found some interesting insights like how some people are using transformative travel as a way to radically transform consciousness in a short amount of time and in way that is pleasurable.

User Research

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“If travel is something that is prescribed to me for my mental ailment, I won’t want to do it. It should be on my free will and choice. Travel for me has always been about novelty and surprises so I never over-plan.”

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“I love to travel and explore new places. I never really plan my travels around what I’m feeling, it is usually what I’m interested in doing. What I end up feeling because of it is a byproduct of my travel journey.”

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“I’d be delighted to know how the app is going to analyze my current emotions without the use of those old mundane assessment questions. What if there’s an algorithm that tracks my emotions based on what I’m looking at in the app the most?”

DEFINE

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User Archetype

User Persona

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IDEATE

User Journey Map

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User Flow

I made a user flow chart to understand how the user journey could be translated into actionable UI screens. This will provide the basis for creating wireframes later.

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Tech Component

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The first approach was using Augmented Reality to scan the surroundings and suggest Emotional Reviews by people who have visited before.

 

The approach did not work out for several reasons. The primary issue is that the user would need to interact with their phone while trying to change their mood. This goes against the purpose of promoting less screen time, particularly when users are on the go. While they can still take pictures (from their Camera app) as they normally would, it should be left to their discretion for creating memories.

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The second approach was using a Gen AI that analyzes user-selected mood assessment images to generate personalized travel recommendations (Content-based Filtering) and use Collaborative Filtering to recommend similar users based on mutual mood assessment image selection. Based on the user's mood, desired emotional state, and chosen destination, the AI could generate a unique itinerary that includes activities, restaurants, and even transportation options tailored to their preferences.

 

This approach works because GenAI enables the user to receive personalized recommendations without having to interact extensively with their phone while they are at the location. Instead, they can fully immerse themselves in the experience without any interruptions from the app. Imagine exploring the world, free from phone interruptions, while the Gen AI ensures your journey perfectly aligns with your current mood. Now that's a truly transformative travel experience.

PROTOTYPE & TEST

Paper Pretotype

Paper pretotype was made to assess moods correctly. This assessed whether I (the human  algorithm) was able to correctly understand and guess what the users are feeling at the moment.

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Testing Insights 1.0

  • People like to see images more than texts

  • Short time to select - avoids pattern formation

  • Maybe select one-by-one to avoid bias

  • Could be two tests - where you’re at & where you want to be

  • Maybe have intrinsic rewards/incentives for people to travel and go out of comfort zone

  • Felt seen by the mood assessment - my human algorithm works!!

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Wireframes

Wireframe prototype was made to assess whether users are able to follow the flow of the app. This helped me understand whether the language/ UX writing was aligning contextually or not.

Testing Insights 2.0

  • Need a revamp in UX writing to make it sound more personal

  • Clearer CTA on onboarding screens

  • Emotion (instant) vs. Mood (lately) clarity and alignment with core concept (Moodscape)

  • Add tabs to indicate how long are these trips are for, eg. day trip, long vacation etc.

  • Use of actual emojis than the current ones for more variety of emotions

  • Interchange the money aspect with emoji so the latter stands out more

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  • Change certain cards backgrounds so it doesn’t submerge with foreground gradient

  • Enough space for buttons to ensure clickability

  • Appropriate font size for better visibility

  • Click area near the thumb should have more interaction; other interactions could be in the far away click zones

Testing Insights 3.0

Hi-fid prototype was made to assess whether users are able to follow the final flow of the app. This helped me gain final insights and nitpicks about the user interface (accessibility) and certain changes in font sizes for better visibility.

Hi-Fid Clickable Prototype >

User Interface Design

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ONBOARDING

The user downloads the app and is welcomed by a slider of what Moodscape offers. The user then makes their account and takes the assessment where their current and desired mood is analyzed. 

RECOMMENDATION

The user is presented with options that are deemed best for them to reach their desired state of mind. Upon clicking one, they are presented with a glimpse tutorial on what is presented on screen. They can choose to go ahead with the presented itinerary or look for more recommendations.

FEEDBACK

After having visited the location, the next time the user logs in, they are presented with an engaging feedback which is taken both to write emotional reviews and recommend better on their preferences. After a year of using the app, they are presented by an atlas which showcases which locations transformed their moods and how.

Future Scope

  • Diversify Travel Recommendations: Expand recommendations beyond day trips to include various travel durations, from weekend getaways to extended vacations requiring flights. Incorporate diverse travel experiences and accommodation options.

  • Technical Feedback Gathering: Explain the recommendation algorithm in detail to developers to gather technical feedback. Engage with them to understand database functionalities, optimize data handling, and refine algorithm efficiency. Utilize machine learning to enhance accuracy and tailor recommendations more precisely.

  • Personalization Enhancements: Deepen the app's ability to provide highly personalized travel recommendations by integrating user profiles, preferences, and historical emotional data.

  • Expand Emotional Spectrum: Broaden the emotional spectrum beyond basic emotions to include a more nuanced range of feelings. Incorporate cultural and individual variations in emotional associations.

  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Collaborate with mental health professionals, travel experts, and emotional well-being advocates to enrich the app's content, guidance, and resources.

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Personal Reflections

  • This project has been such a journey of discovery, not just for the user experience of travel planning, but for me on a personal level. Seeing how much emotional intelligence matters in travel blew me away. Imagine feeling overwhelmed and your app suggests a quiet beach instead of a bustling city. That's the kind of impact I wanted to create, and realizing it's possible was incredibly exciting. 

  • Prototype testing turned out to be a real eye-opener.  It wasn't just about the app, it was about understanding people's emotions.  Seeing how users reacted in those early tests, even with paper prototypes, totally validated the core concept. It felt amazing to see my idea resonate with real people.

  • This focus on the user's emotional state throughout the project has really driven home the importance of a user-centric approach.  Travel isn't a one-size-fits-all experience, and neither should the planning be.  Building something that puts the user's feelings first is what makes Moodscape special. 

  • The whole idea of emotions and experiences being linked in such a personal way was fascinating.  What makes me feel tranquil might send someone else running for the hills!  Learning how subjective those associations are was a key hurdle, but also an opportunity to create a truly personalized experience. 

  • Merging psychology, technology, and travel felt like something out of a brainstorming session at first.  But seeing it all come together to create Moodscape has been incredibly rewarding.  It's more than just a travel app, it's about using different fields to unlock a whole new way of travel planning, and that's something I'm incredibly proud of.
     

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