Week 10: Evaluative Research and Concept Development

Mar 24, 2018 · 4 min read

After getting back from spring break, Team Whaleshark got together to analyze our existing concept scenarios. The three that we had proposed in the Generative Research Phase were the following:

  1. A VR device that allows the user to view alternate future scenarios
Storyboard 1

2. A visualization device that makes the invisible unsustainable practices more visible to the home owner.

Storyboard 2

3. A conversational unit that recommends and prompts users to start making more sustainable and environmentally-friendly decisions.

Storyboard 3

Although these storyboards were our initial pass at a concept, we weren’t sure how strongly we felt on the ideas. Because we shifted our primary focus to behavior change learning in individuals, it felt like there was a slight seperation from the research we had done on connecting people to others — the social factor was lost. Driven by this obstacle, we decided to try to expand our device — which would work in the home on an individual level — but make it part of a larger network that could sync up with others in the neighborhood or local area.

We have a general sense of what we would like to design — since our timeframe is looking approximately 10 years down the line, we would like a home assistant incorporated in an IoT smart home that can learn about your daily habits and provide environmentally-friendly suggestions or visualizations. This device would also be able to communicate to others in the neighborhood and encourage communication between households regarding sustainable efforts, such as carpooling, street clean-up, and gardening days. For the households that have the time and effort to volunteer, the system would be able to match them up with an organization that needs their specific skills and preferences; however, for those who are too busy to donate their time to groups, the system would simply try to encourage more sustainable habits in their normal routine.

We created different user scenarios for the kinds of users who could use our device and started to address the pain points in our concept.

First, privacy and the sharing of data is a large problem — some people may not feel comfortable with the amount of information that is taken by in-home assistants.

Second, what are the capabilities of our home assistant? It can detect environmental qualities, but is it also an all-encompassing home assistant, like Google Home or Alexa? It seems redundant to have 2 devices in the home so it may be more favorable to just have our system perform most of the functions that the others can do.

Third, is it an object? Or can it be an software system that is uploaded to different existing devices?

Fourth, we are assuming this is 10 years down the line and IoT with smarthomes is common.

Fifth, what is the onboarding process for this system?

Our next steps will be to refine and narrow our scope for our concept, we need to understand the limits and boundaries of our device. We will also want to continue speed dating our ideas, create low-fidelity prototypes, and conduct more workshops.

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