THE DESIGN PROCESS
During the co-design and team activities many concepts were prototyped, tested and evaluated.
Our co-design participant has been fully blind since birth. But nonetheless, he lives his life to the fullest. When we first spoke with our participant he was pretty straightforward; I like the way I am living, but I think some things could be better; optimized to fit me better. The thing he was most enthusiastic about was running. He asked if we could help him to run coordinated with his buddy in a more convenient way.
This challenge was accepted. To find out more about co-design, designing with visually impaired users, design for visually impaired users and the impairment itself a conext mapping study was conducted. The results of the study were used throughout the entire process. The context mapping study will also be referenced multilple times on this web-portofolio. The context mapping study also helped us prepare for the first meeting, After this first meeting 10 concepts were made using brainwriting. With these 10 concepts came a lot of questions. We mainly used audiochat to communicate short questions and to give weekly updates.
After narrowing it down to 6 concepts we set up a second meeting. Auditory descriptions of the 6 concepts were given to the participant, which mostly focussed on the functionality of the concepts. After the concepts were introduced, their suitability for our participant was evaluated using scenarios. The scenario-based approach is a commonly used technique in designing for the visually impaired.
Using the feedback our participant gave us, his 3 favourite concepts were transformed into low-fidelity prototypes. We delivered the prototypes to the participant and to maintain within the government regulations we evaluated the prototypes via videochat. The participant's trainer was present at our participant to perform the 'Wizard of Oz' testing. Together with our participant we brainstormed about combining the positive aspects of the concepts. From this brainstorm we came up with one concept.
This one concept was later adjusted in a meeting with the design team after re-evaluation. The result of this concept was prototyped into 2 functional prototypes. Once again those were brought to the participant and evaluated via videochat. Based on this evaluation we made one final prototype. This final product and prototype can be found in detail at page 'The Product'.
This final prototype was first prototyped into multiple Low-fidelity prototypes to personally it on the points our participants had indicated. With the conclusions of this testing a final concept design was made and prototyped. This prototype was tested by the participants using the test protocol listed below, The test involved various tasks which had to be completed. Tho test was performed in the field and conducted as a moderated user test. Data obtained varied from qualitative open-question answers to quantitative scales of agreeability and number-of-errors testing. For more details download the test plan below.
Designing with VIPs
Only a minority of blind users knows braille.
Focus groups showed good results, as well as employment of tactile prototyping materials, described by Ratto (2014)
Sahib (2013) involved one blind user in the design team and used a scenario to evoke a dialogue between blind users and designers with which they evaluated design choices.
Pissaloux (2017) mentions audio diaries to evaluate the working of a system.
Blind people are unconsciously forced to take the role of advisor because they cannot prototype similarly to sighted individuals. Sonified objects can avoid this.
Disability in Society
Practicing sports with a disability can change the perspective and attitude towards people with a disability. Because it focuses on what can be done instead of what cannot be done.
The majority of the participants expressed that perspectives were improving, which is supported by research in non-sport contexts explaining that exposure to disability is indeed assisting in changing attitudes.” (Cottingham 2015)
The features specific for the CB runner in the product should not depend on sight.
During this process physical prototypes are tough to communicate with due to the pandemic. However, the importance of this prototyping style can not be neglected and will be a challenge during the process.
The design should be straightforward and easily understandable for the user because it should not be distracting the user from running.
Research shows: there are three kinds of challenges: loss of cues, obstacles & environmental conditions that have to be overcome to be successful (Quinones, P., 2011)
The device should be as simple, low cost, lightweight, reliable as possible, and have good coverage area as well (M. M. Islam, 2019)
Present sensory substitution devices don’t outperform the white cane in general. Sometimes an SSD fails to work as desired, or stops being used due to many different reasons, i.e. ‘technology abandonment’ (Grott R, 2019)
Human Centered Design
The goal is to develop products or services that match users’ practices, needs and preferences.
In the basis, facts about people are used. But HCD tools also consist of the detection of meanings, desires and needs, either by verbal or non-verbal means. Some HCD tools are used for simulating intuitions, opportunities and possible futures for purposes of emersion, reflection and discussion.
There are two tensions inherent in HCD, one between project-team members and users and one research and design orientations.
Focussed on involving users to bridge the gap between ‘creators’ and users. Problems and possible solutions are explored simultaneously and iteratively (Steen, 2013)
Designers who do not identify with the target group can make false assumptions, leading to faulty design.
Auditory scenarios were used to evaluate the suitability of different concepts in different situations. An example of an auditory scenario is made as a demonstration.
Low-fidelity Test & Interview
During the low-fidelity test three completely different prototypes were introduced. The prototypes were tested with the Wizard of Oz method. Combined with the test an open-question interview was conducted.
Working prototype Field Test & Interview
During the working prototype test 2 similar prototypes were tested in the field according to the user test plan. During the monitored session an interview was held about the experiences with the prototype. The working prototypes were continued to be tested throughout the week. Additional feedback and experiences were continuously communicated thoughout this period.
Pre-production prototype Test & Evaluation
The pre-production prototype is similar to the final product. This prototype was tested according to the user test plan as well. Resulting in qualitative and quantitative data about the prototype. Which allowed the designers to evaluate the product and dot the i's and cross the t's.
The non-functional harnas prototype was made from a safety vest. The vibrating shoulderpatches are imitated with cardboard. The camera that would be on the chest is portrayed by a beercap, because of its smooth, lens-like feel. All buttons are imitated with soda caps.
LF: STICK WITH SPRING
The stick with a spring did not have an actual spring because the envisioned spring would be a hydraulic spring. Hydraulic springs are not really low-fidelity level. The handles on the stick are made with handles of screwdrivers. The buttons are imitated with thumbtack and cardboard.
WP: HULA HOOPS
The hula hoops were pre-made. The leather belts are connected to the hula hoops via resistance bands. The pvc piping can be connected to the hula hoops via clasps made from polypropylene foam.
LF: 360 BAND
The chestband is made from a stretchy fabric. The clips and size-changer on the fabric are made from old plastic. The sensors are made from thin pieces of metal because the vibrating sensors will be metal-like as well. This has a specific feel on the skin due to the temperature conductance. The electronicsbox is made from cardboard and packed in plastic wrap to imitate a smooth, plastic feel. The tactile marker on the electronicsbox indicates how the band should be worn. The tactile marker is made from folded paper.
WP: TWO TAILS
The tails prototype consists of two leather belt. The belt on the outer ends of the sticks has holes all over its length. This belt should be worn by the runner. The belt on the bent side of the sticks should be worn by the trainer. This belt is attached to the sticks via a piece of fabric. This fabric encapsulates a sponge which should dampen shocks. The sticks are made from pvc-piping.
PPP: UNO CERO
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Different iterations lead to the final concept
The scenario method yielded a strong preference for concepts which are worn around the chest and electronics-based. Even though, scenarios often came forward as a good co-design method in the context mapping study, the results of the scenario approach were debatable. Since our participant was unfamiliar with electronic Sensory Substitution Devics his mindset about this technology was very open. But from other researcher's experiences it became clear that many visually impaired people are hesitant to rely on technology. Our participant also indicated that he was hesitant about purely individual running, without any physical connection. But he was very open to give it a try. The responses of our participant varied throughout the scenario because he was unfamiliar with any electronic SSD.
From the scenario approach three concepts were formed: the 360 band, harnas and stick with a spring. Where the harnas and chestband really allow independent running and the stick focussed more on the traditional, physical connection. We wanted to keep the options open due to the varying results we obtained from the scenario-approach.
The low-fidelity test gave some more clarity about the previous responses of our participant. He was still very open to the idea of using technology to guide him in the right direction but both the participant and his trainer felt more assured with a product where the trainer or buddy still has the main control and responsibility. The would always want to have the option to give physical feedback or quickly give corrective cues. The stick however was not the most ideal solution because it is very similar to the tether in essence. The stick does not prevent the pulling and pushing which tires the arms. Plus, the stick makes the running movement feel unnatural. The chestband and harnas were still in the running but needed a more physical connection to the trainer.
Working Prototype Test
The working prototype test showed that even when there were no electronics implemented the concept could tick off most of the requirements of the participant and his buddy. The quest for independent running turned out to be about the way of running and not necessarily about being 'loose' or 'free' from a physical connection. The independency was found in the freedom to run without constantly pulling a tether, running at a fair distance from one another and being able to follow the buddy without need for extra pushes, calls etc. It also became clear that in order for the prototype to work there should be no displacement of the waistbands. Another important finding was that both the buddy and the trainer wanted to have handles. The participant wanted to have handles because it felt more natural to him. On top of that, he indicated that he could feel the cues of his buddy more clearly when holding the handles in his hands. The buddy wanted to have handles to give that extra correction when needed. If there is no correction needed the buddy could run with his hands free.
From the test it became clear that the trainer and the runner have a specific preference for the different ways in which the physical feedback system should be rigid or flexible. In short, the feedback should be:
- Flexible when speeding up and slowing down;
- Rigid when giving direction corrections.
These two characteristics formed the new requirements that would shape the final pre-production prototype. The flexibility when speeding up and slowing down came from the Hula Hoops prototype and would make for a more comfortable way of using the system, while the rigidity in steering came from the Two Tails concept, making it easy for the trainer to give corrections to the runner.
Pre-production Prototype Test
To be conducted...