Case study: EnjoyCal (concept)

EnjoyCal is a wifi connected, interactive wall calendar. It connects and syncs with all your digital devices using Google and Apple Calendar, allowing individuals and families to schedule their busy lives with a central planner.

Intent

The intent was to build a profitable business that would fit into the current “connected” home theme in an affordable useful way. The thought was because connected devices such as the ipad and notebooks were pricey and did a wide variety of things, EnjoyCal would focus soley on tasks and calendar management at an affordable price.

The Year 2020

The estimated smart home market will be $43 billion. Our focus would be in the productivity area.

The family unit

In design we wanted make sure we were hitting the right use cases for the target audience in the connected home area. We surveyed and found that mothers were generally responsible for keeping track of and reminding family members of upcoming events.

Qualitative case studies

We Interviewed 6 moms: Moms are generally responsible for managing everyone’s schedules, keeping track of, and reminding the family members of upcoming events.

Is there a problem?

Today families use paper calendars, digital device calendar or a combination of both. The Family scheduling portion is far from perfect and a problem we wish to tackle.

From design perspective there are are many things to consider that made this project challenging. Things to think about:

  1. What habit are we from a user experience perspective trying to change?
  2. We would have to consider form, function, experience design which included in industrial manufacturing.
  3. Usability, if this product is not easier to use then the various ways people are custom to then we will miss the target.
  4. Will this be touch screen? If so how easy is it to set up, how hard is it to mount or place in your home.
These basic questions will make or break the cost effectiveness of building a device without a more innovative form factor and technology…. (digital paper?).

Product took a leap of faith

Product decided to build a test digital calendar that would be easy to mass produce and sync with users.

Step 1. Create a prototype that could be built and manufactured cheap. Unfortunately the form factor was not what we as designers believed would be innovative enough to catch a users attention.

It was just another screen someone had to buy. Users had iPads, TV’s and other devices, why would they want to buy a device that is large, bulky, hard to install?

A designers challenge, how to guide product the right direction.

As designers we figured we could talk product direction into testing a simple calendar on an Ipad pro to see if users would change their normal habits in task management.

The problem with this approach was they did not believe that the IPAD form factor would not give the best experience if mounted on a wall. The test would have to be as close to the finished product as possible.

Design disagreed. We believe that basic feedback with any form factor should give us a direction that users would take. Would they change habits? would they gravitate towards a wall mounted screen? A simple paper prototype could suffice for this level of testing in a field study.

The compromise

Design came to terms with product and decided that we would create visual mockups and project from a website as close as possible to a finished product that we know we could buy manufactured. The understanding was that the final direction should be more in line with what we think the best experience would be for a user. Listed below.

Physical product

The product should be light weight, iPad thin, easy to mount and no wires. The overall physical design has to be innovative in nature in our opinion. If not, we are not sure people will purchase “just another screen device” to hang on the wall.

Digital paper, easy installation, durable features were all topics of discussion.

UI/Experience features

The first pass UI should focus on 3 things, and do them well. Family pictures, weather and mapping. Voice activated for ease of use. And of course device syncing. zz

Early testing

Early in home testing was done with paper/board mockups to determine a size that users were most comfortable with. We found the 21" was most accomodating.

Next steps were to get pre-manufactured android devices that were touch screen for the next level of tests. We found a few that were thin, but still bulky and heavy overall.

Lessons learned

Its not as easy as it looks. Given that we were a team comprised of software engineers and designers, the key factors that came into play were definately on the production side. As stated before, if the product was not unique in design from a screen standpoint, (flexible, paperlike) it would be considered just another screen or ipad on the wall.

Factoring in the cost of creating such a different kind of screen would cost too much in R&D and would drive production costs up.

From the interaction and experience side, there was a lot of potential from unboxing to setting up and syncing. We in the end did not think this was enough of a drive to continue unless we had something really cool on the industrial side of the project. We decided to shelve the product and keep for later innovations that may come from our team that we could integrate.

Fail fast…you know the rest.

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