When Kristin is about to get her period, everyone in the house knows it.
A light on her nightstand tells us so.
What we now call the "Mood Cube" tracks my wife's cycles and has helped foster household harmony. It also makes Kristin smile every day.
It was easy to build. You can make one, too.
The Mood Cube story really starts with Louise Ma, a great interaction designer and my colleague on the WNYC Data News Team. She knows her mood tracks closely with her menstrual cycle, so she put up a chart of different faces and hangs a rubber band on the face that matches her feelings.
Stop by Louise's desk for a chat, and you immediately know where she's at. Talk about transparency!
Louise has made a hobby out of tracking her moods and cycles. Kristin had tried to track hers, too. She used several of the flowery iPhone apps designed to help, but didn't stick to them. She put the dates in Google calendar, but they never really lined up.
And each month she was surprised by bouts of intense stress, frustration and agita -- always followed by her period just a day or two later. After a recent episode she texted me: "I want Louise's chart!"
I had another idea.
I wanted to make an ambient indicator -- something in Kristin's life that was subtle but clear. I wanted it to be peaceful, friendly and needinig no attention. And it shouldn't be harsh or shaming.