Posts Tagged ‘users’

Graphical User Interface design – Part 1

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

After having spent time with the elderly, we started thinking in concepts that could improve the life of the elderly. We had the honour of having Niels Clausen-Stuck as guest teacher for the first two weeks of our GUI design module, where he, along with Alex from CIID, helped us through the whole design process. A process looking a lot like the good old ISO13407 which I am quite familiar with after having studied product development at DTU for 5 years. Well, this post is not going to be about design processes (though it’s a topic that I’m very interested in).

After having visited the elderly, we found out that they are no longer interested in creating and sharing new memories, they are more interested in re-living old memories, with people that can help them filling in the gaps and completing their stories from the past. But it’s not always easy to find people at your own age that you can actually do this with, as almost 85% of the residents on the old folks homes have dementia to some degree. And as the course was about graphical user interfaces, we also had to create some kind of device. After lots of thinking and another visit to Plejehjemmet Aftensol, we decided to develop a “time machine”. Well, not a time machine in the traditional sense, but at least something that would help you think back in time.

Radio in BW

We decided to build a radio, that could go back in time. Instead of having a frequency scale, this radio has a time scale. Turn the knob back to the year you would like to get refreshed, and the radio will start playing content from that period. If you only want to listen to specific types of content, there is a knob for selecting that, e.g. news, radio-theater or classical music. I won’t go into the details of the UI, but we put a lot of thought into arranging the buttons and the graphical layout of the screen, to be as intuitive as possible. As this mock-up was developed in the second iteration, it is still very early – unfortunately we didn’t have time to take it to the elderly to evaluate it.

The radio set to 1978

Technically speaking the radio is just a device with a wifi connection, and access to digitalised radio archives, e.g. from Danmarks Radio or BBC. The interface is kept “old-fashioned” on purpose, to keep a higher level of familiarity to the user. Our philosophy was, that this concept is a radio and therefore it should look and feel like a radio. Not a computer or streaming mp3-player.

Electronics-wise the mock-up (or hardware sketch) was built using Flash, Arduino (+ potmeters), a hacked Nokia speaker and an Asus Eee 901, all put into a cabinet covered with sheets of paper with a wood texture printed on them. The picture below is showing the radio when it’s not covered by the fake table.

Under the hood of the radio: Arduino and Eee 901

In general the GUI class resulted in some really nice models, considering we had very short time for the projects. Take a look at some of the other mock-ups in my¬†Flickr photostream. If you don’t want to go to Flickr, the photos from the exhibition (and some from the process) can also be found here.

Marcin's smurfFirst concept sketchPutting Post-Its on the wallMessyBrainstormingKey value
Discussing ideasGood or bad?In or out?ScenariosScenario sketchesInterviewing
Taking notesInterviewingInterviewingInterviewing EbbaSid's fist snowNordic Brainstorming
Deciding placementDeciding placementSetting up ArduinoAndreas finishing the fake woodAlmost readyCool proto. Great UI.
Cool proto. Great UI.Controlling the showNice drawingsSetting the moodAndreas demonstratingAndreas adjusting
Hmm...Singing or presenting? Or both?Memory protoTired girlsFilmingNice setup
SimonaActive wallKevin and SidUjj pretending not to have a camera aroundJust tiredTired of it
Calendar systemVisitors from JapanRadio protoThumbnail sketchesThumbnail sketchesThumbnail sketches

A week with the elderly

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

No mom and dad, I’m not referring to you. I’m talking about last week’s CIID course, which was about user research. We spent two half days visiting nursing homes in Copenhagen, which was both a very interesting and scary experience. Not that the nursing homes are bad (at least not as bad as the rumors say) what really scared me was to see how sick and tired everybody is at such a home. Especially the people suffering from dementia. I had never experienced people with dementia before, and I must say that it is an illness that is much worse than I thought. Especially for the relatives to the sick person.

Our group at the nursing home "Aftensol" interviewing the manager. Mimi is hidden behind Sid.

Our group (Sara, Nunzia, Sid, Mimi and me) at the nursing home Aftensol, interviewing the manager. Unfortunately Mimi is hidden behind Sid.

After having visited the homes, we spent the rest of the time analysing and interpreting the data we collected. My group came to an interesting conclusion (among others); that the meaning of friendship changes over time. By that we mean, that when people are young(er) we get friends to socialise with and among other things create and share new experiences with. When you get old enough to move into a nursing home, you know that your life is probably soon to end. You stop looking for new friends in the “traditional” sense and instead you start reflecting over your life and the experiences you had. Instead of having friends to create new experiences and memories with, you need friends to re-live the past with. The carers and families can come listen to the stories from the past while you re-tell them, but it is not the same as talking to someone that actually remembers the past and can help you completing your stories and memories. Fill out the gaps, so to speak.

This was a very quick and superficial description, but essentially the point all my jabbering is that elderly people need empathy instead of only sympathy. They also need sympathy from family and carers, but empathy is even more important. But how do we facilitate that, when up to 85% of the residents in the nursing homes are suffering from dementia? That’s what the next couple of weeks will bring.

I didn’t take any pictures last week, so I’ve posted one that our supervisor Oren Horev from ReD Associates took of our group instead.