What is Cultural Probes?
Probes are collections of tasks designed to elicit inspirational information from people about their individual lives. They provide an alternative to more traditional methods of user research from the social sciences, such as questionnaire studies, focus groups, or ethnographies.
(The probe approach was initially developed for the EU funded Presence project by Interaction Design Research, and has since been extended for the Equator project also by Interaction Design Research.)
Probes is about using a design-led approach to engage with people and their experiences in order to develop a new design space.
Probes is about practise-based design research, which means to design and make stuff that provokes people to let you know about their lives.