The CHI Student Design Competition is an annual event where teams of students from around the world develop solutions to a defined challenge in the domain of human-computer interaction. The 2014 challenge asked teams to find a way to improve one’s self-awareness through the use of sensor data collected through routine interaction with everyday products.
Our team utilized a user-centered design approach described in The Elements of the User Experience by Jesse James Garrett. We started our design with ideation sessions to discover the information gap that many individuals may have about their own behavior. This required a bit of a feedback loop, since we had to brainstorm an idea, then research existing solutions (to avoid reinventing the wheel) and interview users to assess feasibility. We had to ensure the solution addressed a problem experienced by real people while finding our niche.
After finding our domain – monitoring a user’s activity level and prompting behavior to improve cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems health – we developed a strategy (what do we want the user to get out of our solution) through research on relevant medical findings and gamification to modify behavior. Finally, we moved on to functional requirements, workflow, and the characteristics of the UI surface.
Tools and Methods
The team used ideation sessions, literature reviews, user research, and a functional prototype to design and validate our solution. The user research consisted of an electronic survey distributed through Qualtrics to gain an understanding of self-reported work behavior and willingness to adopt new behavior through a smartphone application. We also utilized traditional ideation methods like card sorting and worksheets to guide our design. The competition scope limited teams to focus on a design and the necessary preliminary research, but the next step is usability testing with live participants.
The solution proposed by our group is a smartphone-based application that monitors activity level and proposes rest or activity breaks. Our research showed that there are many health risks associated with extended periods of sedentary or active behavior. The solution, an app called Q.in, monitors user behavior with smartphone accelerometers and helps to modify behavior. Our full submission can be found here.