Concept Refinement

Feedback from Initial Concept Presentation

After the initial concept presentation in class, we received 2 primary comments from our pair team:

Should have more depth in our ideas” — We have 3 initial ideas presented this time, although they were still in a very rough stages, the purpose of this presentation for us was to broaden and cover the space where Ambient Backscatter can be fitted in properly, and we will filter and refine them in the next presentation.

Keep the advantages of Ambient Backscatter in mind” — This is a great suggestion. Sometimes we go to far from the origin of the capstone project, the technology of ambient backscatter, and we should always remind us of this fact and try to maximally utilize the benefits of this technology.

After the class presentation, we also presented to our sponsor, Prof. Josh, and our project mentor, Maggie, and got a lot of positive feedback.

The 2 x 2 diagram is effective and defines the scope pretty well” —After presenting to them(separately), coincidentally the first comment of both Josh and Maggie is that this framework (“Impact of Losing It” v.s. “Frequency of Use”) is powerful and clearly illustrates and segments the tracking and finding domain.

Voice is just one of the interaction approaches” — Both Josh and Maggie indicated that using voice for input/output is a good way to interact with the system, but they also suggested that we should focus more on finding out what and how people use our system. In the very beginning, we thought voice can be the kernel of our capstone project, because we want to use voice interaction to improve the user experience of the tracking service, and this should be a good topic in the HCI domain. But after consulting with instructors, Josh, and Maggie, we were convinced that we should dig more into the essence of the tracking problem and focus on how to improve the experience when tracking and finding items.

Besides receiving a lot of great feedback from Maggie, we also gained some insights through visiting Maggie’s house. The house is pretty different from the places we visited in previous field studies, which is a four stories building and has thousands of books and items. We realized that it’s a totally different problem space that ambient backscatter can fit in properly and this brought us a new thought that might be able to lead us to a new direction.

Stuck in CoMotion and Concept Refinement

After leaving Maggie’s house, we immediately had a brainstorming session on the bus in case some fresh ideas fade away. We soon identified a initial problem space that we can try to solve — “How to help people make sure that they will not leave anything behind?” We also designed a concrete solution which utilizes the benefits of ambient backscatter properly, and believed that this will become the final concept of our capstone project.

Everything went well until next meeting. We carefully reviewed the concept and solution in every details from different perspectives, and found the fact that existing products can also solve the problem in a simple way, and the only benefit left in our solution is just battery-free (although this is still an important advantage). We thought this is not good enough for our capstone and decided to put away this concept and start over again.

In the next 3 days, we spent 8 hours every day meeting in CoMotion center, and we experienced the same situation over and over — “Identify a problem”, “Construct a promising solution”, “Examine the solution again”, and “Start over again because existing products can do the same thing”. We were totally stuck in the building and the concept refinement.

Making Progress — Relative Locations

After struggling in the endless recurrence for a long while, we decided to go back to the origin of our project, Ambient Backscatter, and analyzed and compared every single difference between existing products and our technology again. In the end, we found a very critical part that we usually missed and ignored in previous discussions. In addition to the obvious battery-free advantage, the most important feature of ambient backscatter is that the tags can communicate with each other and we can therefore draw a whole picture of the connected network between tags. In this way, we can estimate the relative locations between tags and group them according to proximity, and this is what existing product (Bluetooth Low Energy technology) can not achieve. Most importantly, we found that the fact that everything connected is the essence of the Internet of Things, and it perfectly matches the topic of our project.

In order to narrow down our project scope, we also analyzed the whole process toward tracking and finding behavior. We divided the user behavior into three stages — “Tagging”, “Notified”, and “Finding” — , and we thought that there were two places we can exert on and apply the concept of relative locations.

Managing” — we defined a new stage between “tagging” and “notified” and wanted to assist people in organizing their items with the help of providing relative location data.

Finding” — we wanted to improve the approach that people use to find items by providing auditory and visual cues converted from relative location data.

Feedback from Refinement Concept Presentation

After the second concept presentation, we received two major suggestions from class.

We should revise the content and rearrange the order of How Ambient Backscatter Works section” — Apparently, we should move this section to the very beginning of the presentation in order to help our audience understand the concept and the following scenarios. In the meantime, we should also make the diagram more clear and easy to understand for the audience who are not familiar with this technology.

Several classmates like the phrase — Locate, not Search” — This is the major difference between our solution and the existing products, and we want to provide an unique experience of finding items for our users under this concept. In order to explore the possibility of our project, we have to come up with more scenarios to examine and figure out what the most suitable application for ambient backscatter is.

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