Let the Creative Juices Flow…

What Did You Do?

Throughout this Charrette, we focused our minds toward understanding User Centered Design. With this in mind, our TA Kerem asked us to list multiple types of vehicles, which led to modes of transportation. In groups of threes, we wrote down multiple answers on sticky notes. After about 15 minutes of brainstorming, we were asked to place these sticky notes on the whiteboard, to show everyone. As “types of vehicles” was broad, many funny answers were listed… which included: “witch on a broomstick,” “barbie and ken riding in their convertible,” “group of high schoolers in stretch limo going to prom,” and etc… After posting these answers to the board, we were then asked to categorize overlapping ideas together. This action generated a variety of groups ranging from “road rage,” to “athletes on hoverboards.” After sorting, Kerem picked a random category and handed each group of three a post-it; the group he selected was “students.” Within this category my first group of three received “athlete going to class on hoverboard.” Then at my second group we recieved, “cat on a hoverboard.” At this group, we threw out random ideas on what elements would be needed for the interface on this vehicle. With that in mind, “meow recognition” was born. We came up with a lists of information we needed, materials, and technology we needed. Then we switched groups, and at this third group we tackled the problem of needing to keep band students and their instruments tucked away from authority. At this group, we drew out screen ideas for our digital interface, and presented to the class what the problem was, and how we planned on solving the issue. Our solution was to add a camouflage feature, which would change the exterior appearance of the bus, add a police radio in, a criminal activity survey for the students, and GPS. As our user was the student, we had to think of a solution that would keep their goal intact.

Identifying the users, and different vehicles we could design a smart interface for, Image from UW HCDE Department
Identifying materials, technology and needed information, Image from UW HCDE Department

Now Reflect On It…

A common question I heard at many of the groups I encountered was: “Is this feature really necessary?” As we were brainstorming solutions, many “out of the box” ideas were generated and shared, but were often irrelevant to what we were trying to accomplish. For example, at the table with the user “cat on a hoverboard,” we had many ideas to alleviate the stress of being transported, which a cat might feel, by suggesting a much more advanced interface. We originally thought of allowing the cat to control some of the buttons and maneuvers included on the hoverboard, when in reality, all they need is something simple. With that in mind, we began to think in a more simplistic way, by making many of the hoverboard features automatic. For example, if the board detects a dog nearby, and the cat’s hiss, it would automatically prepare for turbo mode, in order to escape the threatening dog. By identifying the user’s needs and taking into account what they should be able to do with the technology was an important role in our design solution. Other questions included “Would this be possible to create in real life?” or“Where should we place this functionality?” Along with those two questions was “What’s the best way to display this interaction with the device?” A problem we encountered was running low on time and being able to come to a consensus on what is necessary in the solution.

What Did You Enjoy?

This charrette was a great ice breaker, and I enjoyed getting to know people within my class through this sort of interaction. I especially enjoyed reading through the different answers to what type of user we are designing for, and the presentations. Many of the user scenarios were funny, and many groups provided clever and interesting design solutions. I also enjoyed coming up with a clever solution, and discussing with people how this would be implemented. A moment that I remember was when my group and I decided on “meow recognition,” which we planned would work like Siri and detect the mood and behavior of the cat through their different types of sounds. It was interesting to talk about that because it incorporated a previously mentioned type of technology that we thought about manipulating.

Future Implementation of a Charrette?

Using a charrette, in general seems like a great way to initiate a problem’s solution. I could see this technique being used across several Engineering courses, in which group work is utilized. Another setting that I believe would benefit from the use of a charrette would be at OXO Good Grips. I remember watching a video about OXO reinventing their potato peeler, and they realized that their items weren’t selling well due to the fact that many people with arthritis had a difficult time using this technology. Through several periods of design, they came up with several different styles in order to ease the use of the technology, and target a larger audience. A charrette would be good in any setting of reinventing an OXO item, since many people could benefit from a better design of the tool. Another moment where a charrette would be useful, would be when redesigning the iOS interface. Determining the users, the best style to display the information, and a solution to making the information easily accessible through the interface in a creative discussion, would bring about a better solution. I believe that projects aiming toward improvement would benefit from a charrette. I could see this technique being utilized in many car manufacturing companies, and even in other types of kitchenware. With self driving cars entering our world, a charrette would be helpful in this design process.

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