Week 1 Journal | Human Centered Design

Usefulness, is in my opinion, the driving force behind technology. New interventions, devices, and applications continue to be created everyday to try and improve efficiency in all industries. When a thing is deemed useful, I place indispensable value on it until something better comes along. I realize “better” is a subjective word, and I personally appreciate innovation and design, as much I value practicality. If something is practical, easy to use, and looks beautiful, I am sold.

For my first class in Consumers & Interactive Health, I was introduced to the idea of human-centered design. Creative problem solving, prototyping, user testing, and iteration were also key concepts and phases of development the class touched upon. Based on our readings and class discussion, I learned before you are to set out and solve a problem or try to develop an innovative solution, you must begin with interacting with those directly affected by the problem. Human-centered design requires you to learn directly from the people you’re developing for to understand their needs. In nursing, we work with our patients everyday and build relationships with them in understanding the successes and challenges in the care they need. Both the Play Pump and Project Evo are attempting to address a health related issue and consider their users’ health literacy. The Play Pump is simple to operate and designed for children to play on. Project Evo engages players via gaming tasks designed to improve attention and memory. This is important because as clinicians, we should also strive for patient activation. The user — or in the context of healthcare — the patient, should always be at the center of the design.

Building a piece of playground equipment that acts as a pump to supply clean drinking water to rural communities is clever and creative. It is powered by the play of children, built to the height of children, and placed at schools. So, in several ways the Play Pump can be considered human-centered. Project Evo, is a video game developed by neuroscientists and entertainment software creators to improve the brain’s ability to deal with distractions. It is a creative intervention to help relieve symptoms related to ADHD, autism, and depression. Though whether or not this project is human-centered or an effective treatment modality, is still hard for me to assess. It would depend on whether or not the developers worked with individuals who have ADHD, autism, or depression to see what gaming elements help relieve their symptoms. Not much is said on this process. Additionally, it is still being tested through clinical trials, so it will be interesting to see if the results are promising.

For the upcoming semester, I am most interested in learning what are the most common elements in why a piece of innovation fails. Everyday, we hear about new applications, technologies, and devices being developed. I’ve always been interested in the process of how something is dreamed up, built, and then executed. In that regard, Kickstarter is a fascinating hub for me. Even if all the right pieces are in play, something can fail. Take the Kickstarter project Zano, which I consider the biggest Kickstarter success that failed. It was such a big deal in fact, that Kickstarter hired an investigative journalist to suss out how and why this successfully funded project took a downward spiral for the worst.