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Xianzhi Zhang

Xianzhi Zhang is a multidisciplinary designer with a background in mechanical engineering and product design. Prior to starting her Masters, she worked as a product design engineer at Withings and Parrot, where she gained valuable product development experience through bringing two sophisticated yet accessible healthcare products into the market. She is also participating in the EIT (European Institute of Innovation & Technology) Health Wild Card Accelerator as a co-founder of BrightSide, focusing on helping chronic pain patients communicate their state to their loved ones.

Her unique cross-cultural (China, France, UK and Canada) and cross-functional background has amplified her sense of empathy, resulting in a better understanding of a wider pool of users, enabling her to approach product ideas with an open-mind and to collaborate with a diverse set of people.

She enjoys exploring the relationship between humans and objects and believes that designers should shape the way people interact with each other and with the environment, bringing positive impact to society.

The motivation for Beyond² is to bring back the physical interaction in the digital world and create this 3-dimensional storytelling tool that goes beyond the 2D surface to help the audiences to empathise with the effort and value behind every detail of a physical object.

The pandemic has driven most people’s lives and businesses online, providing some unique opportunities, but also creating problems due to the lack of physical interactions. This shift is particularly difficult for artists and artisans who deal in tangible goods and often struggle to convey the value of their work through digital means. Audiences have been unable to interact with the artwork or artisan, so they can’t see the details or appreciate the level of precision, concentration, and persistence stored in the stories behind the cold product description online.

Art and craft work display will be an initial application of Beyond². With digital interactions increasingly replacing physical ones, we need to go beyond 2D and reanimate the lost stories behind digitised physical objects. Beyond² takes a first step in this direction.

Beyond² is an interactive storytelling experience that enhances artisans' ability to communicate the uniqueness of their work. 

With Beyond², artisans could scan their work into 3D models and associate stories in the form of text, image, sound or video directly with the physical features of the object. The collectors could then interact with the object in 3D and navigate through layers of stories behind it. Beyond² also encourages meaningful dialogues between creators and collectors through story sharing or question and answers towards specific details.

Explore stories — Beyond² users could browse craft work in 3D or via AR, interacting with the object to see it from different angles as with a physical object. Users could also click on the floating highlight bubbles attached to the object to read associated stories. Different keywords are shown at the bottom of the screen, helping users filter relevant features.
Create stories — Creators could generate a high quality 3D scan of their work with the Beyond² application and add the 3D model to their Beyond² collection or embedded on their personal website. They could then associate stories about objects, including description of material, process, inspiration or cultural background with specific details on the object’s 3D model. Creators could directly embed stories that they share on other platforms such as Instagram or Youtube, to better centralise or establish their identity.
Interaction — Collectors could ask creators questions about specific details of their work by pointing to the detail on the model. Creators will receive notifications to continue the conversation and answer their questions. Collectors could also associate their stories of using the object to show their appreciation or provide feedback to the creator on the details they care about.

Beyond² fits in the creators' regular daily routine. With little extra effort, creators could better showcase the details of their work and enable their audiences to be attached to the values represented by the work.

Beyond² brings back the physical interaction to the users beyond the flat 2D screen, communicates the warmth of stories beyond the cold object description, and conveys the knowledge and craftsmanship beyond the usual online browsing experience.