HCDE 210: Sprint 0 — UCD Charrette

The first studio of HCDE 210 is a charrette, a fast, intense period of design activities. In the studio, we, as groups, are randomly assigned a combination of a certain user group and a specific vehicle type generated from the whole class.

Ideas about possible user groups and vehicles from the class.

Our Challenge

Our goal is to design the interaction user interface of the smart vehicle to better serve the need of targeted users. To be more specific, my group’s task is to design the user interface of a van for people with night blindness. Since the theme of this charrette is about user-centered-design, we started by coming up with a possible scenario about our user: a night-blind worker who can only drive to work during daytime and has to either ask some else to driver or give up driving in night. Team work played a crucial rule in this. Each group member contributed both ideas and illustrations in the process. By illustrating this scenario out, we exemplified the user’s specific need, which is people with night blindness can’t be a fully functional driver during night and need help to navigate when driving at night.

With this better understanding of how we might help them out, we came up with the idea of integrating a night mode on the interaction screen which includes certain features designed specifically to help the night-blind driver navigate.

Our group present out design in front of the class.

In the brainstorming, we bounced ideas back and forth within our discussions. For example, we once planned to replace the interaction screen with a smart goggle like google glass. But then we found out that a smaprt glass can interfere with one’s vision and resulted in blind spots. Therefore, we decided to keep the original design. After an intense discussion and collaboration, our final solution includes a screen that can display front, sides, and back real-time videos of the car incorporated with the 360 degree camera, a voice system that will remind you about traffic condition, and even a thermo imaging system to tell potential dangers.

Critical Reflection

The charrette overall changed my opinion about design. I used tend to view design process as first coming up with a fancy design, maybe even with some cutting-edge technology, and then show the design to users. But from this charrette, I learned how looking problems from user’s angle can make better products that better serve user’s need. I will try to learn from this user-centered view in the future process.

Team collaboration is another theme in this studio. By collaborating with other people, we can address the problem from multiple angles and integrate our thoughts into a product bigger than all of us. But of course, there are times team members will disagree with each other. We argued for a long time about whether or not to include a thermal imaging system considering there is already a screen displaying the actual images. We finally reached our agreement that thermal imaging is necessary in functioning as a back-up safety guarantee. However, the arguing process was a bit of too intense and this is something I should pay more attention on in future classes.

Class’s reflection about what to try if there are more time.

My Thoughts

Personally, I enjoyed this charrette in that it condensed the feeling of conducting user-center design (UCD) in an hour-long activity. By “throwing” us directly into the design process, I could actually get some first-hand information about how UCD feels like and whether I’m interested in it. Also, the time limit makes the process both challenging and rewarding. While I usually tend not to move into another step until I feel fully prepared for the current one, the time limit in the charrette continue pushing me forward. Though it’s challenging to come up with a good solution in short amount of time, I didn’t realize before about how much I can achieve in such limited time.

Future Application

Nowadays, a large amount of people are unable to employ the convenience of driving due to their disables. Night-blind people can’t see clearly in night, color-blind people can’t distinguish traffic lights, people with spacial detection difficulties can’t tell how far they are from the objects in front of the cars… With a smart interaction system like we designed in this charrette, these current problems can be addressed. Smart interfaces on the car can be designed with more accessibility to serve the needs of these certain groups. Cars can form image in night, tell the color of the traffic lights, and inform drivers the distance. One of the most important purpose of technology is to help people achieve what they used to cannot. So in a general sense, projects that target to solve disable people’s needs can borrow from the pattern we did in the studio: First conducting research on these groups’ need and then design a targeted solution to help them out with technology.