Explore home applications for a new technology called Ambient Backscatter.
We designed a system that helps people find things at home called Doko. This system forms a network of tagged items and utilize their relative locations as reference points for each other. Instead of a vague beeping sound or a radar diagram like most competitive products, Doko can tell you “Your keys are in the office close by sketch pens, macbook charger, and coffee mug”.
We followed an end-to-end UCD process: Investigate, Ideate, Prototype, Evaluate.
I was the UX & Interaction Designer. This was a collaboration project with Kosuke Shiraishi and Rick Huang.
What do people want or need to keep track of at home?
What scenarios where keeping track of items at home is relevant?
Who would be interested in this product?
We spent 3 weeks in research getting familiar with the technology and its constraints, identify existing problems, opportunities and scenarios. Research activities we carried out include literature reviews, SME interviews, competitive analysis, product evaluation, and field studies. Domains we explored include home security, home automation, and home item tracking. Check out our research summary.
To analyze and synthesize the data we’ve collected from our research, we created a 2x2 diagram to visually identify 3 distinguished target spaces.
I want to find it quickly.
Items such as TV remote, stationary, and portable mouse are used frequently and people want to find them within 1 minute. Here, we need to figure out a convenient way for users to find the items quickly.
I need to know that it is safe at home.
Items in this category are rarely used but have a great impact if lost. Users will not actively track these items, but would like a notification when they go missing.
I carry these things with me, and don’t want to lose them.
Phone, key, and wallet are categorized into this group. We believe existing products such as Tile, Stick-N-Find, and Chipolo are primarily focusing on this group. Here, we want to improve the user experience when tracking these frequently used items.
Round 1: Brainstorming
For our first ideation session, we started out by sketching our ideas based on the categories we have found in our analysis and synthesis meeting. We split up and sketched 29 ideas, and categorized them into 9 groups. We then picked 3 of the most promising concepts that maximized the benefits of Ambient Backscatter Technology.
Round 2: Dive Deep
Based on the first round of ideation, we digged deeper on the advantages of Ambient Backscatter that existing products can not achieve. Since Ambient Backscatter tags can communicate with each other, we can therefore draw a whole picture of the connected network between tags, estimate the relative locations between tags and group them according to proximity.
Round 3: Refinement
In this stage, we have narrowed down our direction based on feedbacks from instructors, sponsors, advisors, and cohorts. All 3 of us agreed and decided to focus on providing a convenient way to tag and find things at home. We felt that this concept matches the technology of Ambient Backscatter very well. To make our idea more concrete, we created a user flow diagram and quick UI sketches.
We recruited 5 participants in total and ask them to locate several items that we hid in a controlled lab setting. We conducted 2 rounds of evaluation. Each round, we used the RITE method and quickly refined our prototype based on the participants feedback. This method fits really well with our limited time and budget. Our main goal is to find out how we can provide the right information at the right time to the users, so that we can help users find their missing items at home efficiently.
How can we deliver the right information at the right time to users, thereby physically and mentally help users find missing items from their home?
Round 1: Wireframe Prototype Evaluation
We pilot tested this with 3 participants from the MHCI+D Program. These students were aware of our project, so we kept the project introduction to the minimum. In addition, the students are familiar with UI heuristics, so the feedback we received a lot of design related usability feedback.
Round 2: Visual UI Prototype Evaluation
With the feedback received from the pilot test, we discussed as a team to brainstorm on new ways to present relative location, as well as deciding what we can quickly refine for the second test. Using Sketch, i revised and created new UI for another round of testing. This UI was again placed into Invision to create an interactive prototype for evaluation.
Refined UI Prototype
The UI was revised once more based on feedback from our 2nd round of evaluation. A key finding was to include the compass tool as a supporting role for the reference points list view. Our participants also favored list view over swipe view when using our app to 'track' the missing item. Furthermore, since the last 2 versions were designed with iOS in mind, I designed an Android version of the UI using Material Design Guidelines to cover major smartphone devices.
For video and demostration purposes, I single-handed created a cosmetic prototype using inkjet friendly sticker sheets and static clings. I designed the packaging using Illustartor, and wrapped the printed sticker around an existing router box. I then used a wall plug router to mimic the Doko Power Adaptor. Finally I designed a sheet of Doko Tags and printed on the static clings. Every element of the prototype looked extremely realistic, and nearly fooled everyone that encountered this kit.
Our presentation was well received. We received questions such as “How much does this product cost?” and “Can I have this product in my office?”, showing that our audiences were interested in purchasing the final product. In addition, we received the highest overall score out of the whole class (19.9/20).