How Many Saturdays as a way to personalize and visualize the passage of time. The app asks the user a few simple questions, and allows them to see estimated measures of their remaining lifespan: how many Saturdays are remaining in their life; how many presidential elections; how many blue moons, how many hours watching TV, and so on.
Designing an experience around how much time we have left before we die is a challenge. The app speaks of mortality without being morbid, with a UI that feels light but not cartoonish, serious but not callous, warm but still scientific. In face-to-face user testing, users displayed a feeling of curiosity, followed by shock, and moments of true discovery, humor, and engagement. App Store reviews ranged from hostile, “remove this from the App Store immediately” to extremely positive, “It gives a different perspective to one’s life.”
Ultimately the app was more about living than about dying. Beyond the curiosity and even the hint of fear, we wanted to create a moment of contemplation, a new sort of clock, a chance to re-imagine our lives as the overlapping of many different cycles and different scales of time, from the short life of a mayfly to the inch-by-inch shifting of Mount Everest.
Developed with Dina Herring as part of the Digital Experience Lab, Exploratorium.