Cultural probes are a very interesting form of design research. Unlike direct observation techniques such as usability-testing or traditional field studies, it allows participants to self-report. The probes are usually aimed at finding out more about people, their emotions and behaviors regarding a certain theme or subject. They are most appropriate when the researchers needs to gather information from participants with minimal influence on their actions.
Cultural probe kits are a package of selected material that request the participants to fulfill certain tasks. These material usual include disposable cameras, diaries, postcards, maps, stickers, and sometimes voice recorders.
The requests usually revolve around the subject being researched and when completed, are handed back to the researcher for analysis. This method was first introduced by three designers Gaver, Dunne, and Pacenti in 1999.