Case studies and process
HCI encompasses particularly early stages of thinking on design. Not solely applicable to the digital environment, it is predominently used to address user needs, navigation, and are typically applied when developing prototypes. Below are a few examples of the sorts of projects it might apply to.
WIGO - London transport with added happiness
WIGO came out of a brief to develop a prototype application combining the idea of the 'internet of things' and big data in urban movement. So including elements of affective interaction and AI, the prototype aimed to utlise transport information which not only to provided decision-supported transport routes and solutions, but actively promoted and suggested ways to improve the experience of moving round the city. It could recommend a coffee stop or a walk in the park when it detected signs of stress. Linking to a London community, the app would estimate your carbon footprint and utilised elements of gaming, competitiveness primarily to persuage you to lower it.
So having a set of idea and reducing down to a prototype and a wrist band in two weeks was pretty good going. In between was a great deal of user research, used affinity diagrams, task analysis and user testing.
I'm a lover of museums and so assessing a display using an affective interaction approach was just up my street. Affective interaction analyses the emotional relationship we have with robots and digital interfaces. asking for a detailed and intricate look at understanding the emotional states generated.
Focusing on the Universal Orchestra in the Google gallery at the Science museum was then an eye opener. Something that most, almost universally responded negatively to. I had tried it sometime before and had liked it because it reminded me, rather obliquely, of an exciting and emotional rehearsal of the Simon Bolivar orchestra I had been to earlier in the year.
But others responded poorly. It is designed as a means of connecting people across the internet, but few comprehended this fact. Sweeping strings? No, a it is low level percussion which does not communicate the power of an orchestra. communicating cool rather than inspiration.
Why was this display so unstimulating? Designed in a rather empty space, it literally lacks auditory and visual power as you can see from the picture, it isn't the most visually inspirational of designs although the picture is doing the display a disservice. Access was limited and the queuing was tedious, and users left me in no doubt of their feelings. Understanding the emotional core of something is essential. Assume that everyone else will get it? Think again. A lot of people use that Google gallery and I bet a lot leave slightly disappointed.
User testing of biodiversity applications
My final project focused on citizen science. Citizen science has expanded in recent years and enables the collection, aggregation of data from across the globe. Useful if you need to find out the population of a species but many might know citizen science from sexy sites such as Galaxy Zoo.
Research asked whether novice users would understand biodiversity (nature) applications and asked twenty four people to Hampstead Heath to run through the key functions - finding an animal or plant, filling in the required fields, sending for identification as well as two contextual study days.
The key aim was to find out the novice experience of these applications and whether they could be engaged enough to consider ongoing particpation? Did they understand the concept of citizen science?
There was a lot of frustration with some applications which certainly seemed to cater for the more advanced participants.They didn't get that biodiversity applications contributed to data collection and that this could contributed overall to our knowledge of the world around us. They really couldn't understand why it wasn't a straight forward process, that there wasn't a database of all species readily accessible to identify what they had found on Hampstead Heath.
My project pointed out many of the usability issues to be found with the individual applications but in addition suggested how support could be provided through a 'scaffolded' approach or use games theory. But this fundmentally, its very hard to pin point that factor which cites that 20% of us contribute regularly whether its to citizen science, its in other areas too. Is this a geek factor?
Its a beautiful world
This is a video created from an early design project. The brief was to develop a new crowdsourcing idea and demonstrate with a prototype. Its a beautiful world attempted to bring together great travel and secret places...music choice is experimental!