19 May

Creative Design Lab: Evaluation

The techniques I have learnt over the course of this Creative Design Lab have been, and will continue to be, very beneficial to me throughout my career as a designer. The methods I’ve used, from simple mind maps, lists and group ideas generation, to the six hats method, 9×9 grids and more.

Whenever I start a new project, I can use these techniques to generate the best ideas/solutions possible, test and evaluate them properly, and view projects as the continual reflection and redesign process that they are.

I feel that the last project was definitely my strongest from a creative standpoint. My processes developed well over the course of the last few months, and the creative thinking became far more natural by the end. When I look back on these blog posts, I am both proud of what I’ve achieved and critical of some of the decisions I have made, which I can learn from in the future.

 

cdl2014

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19 May

Creative Design Lab: Wearable technology week 3

Last week, I did a lot of ideas generation, and used various creative methods to expand on my ideas. I then conducted lots of research into types of technology, specifically in terms of fabric, sensors and detection. This week, I started to create my prototype based on this.

It consists of a vest and an app with an interface as detailed below.

 

PROTOTYPE PART 1: VEST

Hot and cold

Made from a special fabric that contains an active cooling agent, which reacts with the wearer’s own sweat to lower their body temperature. It also has fibres woven into the fabric that can be switched on if the wearer becomes too cold, and heats up the body until an optimum temperature has been reached. This combination works to keep the body temperature constant, and help the infant to sleep through the night.

Vital signs

The vest has stainless steel yarns woven into the fabric itself that monitors the infants heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature, and uses integrated Bluetooth to send that information to the app. The monitoring of vital signs can relieve parent’s anxiety, and lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Moisture

There are also sensors in the poppers at the bottom of the vest. They can detect if the child is wet, which can help during the potty training phase, and to alert parents to any leaks.

Vestprototype

An important part of this vest is its ability to go through the washing machine/tumble drier and without any parts being removed, for easy cleaning. This is because it has all the elements woven into the fabric itself.

 

PROTOTYPE PART 2: APPLICATION

The application will be in the app store, available to download for free to the user’s smartphone or tablet. It connects to the vest using bluetooth and offers a simple visual display of the three main elements included in this design. It would set off an alarm if the device detects that human intervention is needed, and this would be reflected in the display.

monitorappfinal

I wanted to keep the design really simple, as it would mainly be used at night while the parent is only semi-awake and often drowsy. I also decided not to put the numerical value of the heart rate/temperate as it cold be confusing and some users wouldn’t know what the ideal is.

To present how this would function, I made a paper prototype of this app.

paperprototype

This is a good representation of how the app would set off a warning for one or any combination of the elements.

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12 May

Creative Design Lab: Wearable technology week 2

The first thing I did this week was to consider the senses, as it is wearable technology this is a very important factor, and could be a major advantage. I created the following mind maps about possible inputs and outputs of my wearable technology.

senses

I also found this interesting project, when researching wearable tech, that involves a 3d printed cast that emits ultrasound pulses to aid healing. There are all sorts of advantages to wearing technology, and incorporating senses into the design, making the computer part of the human body.

photo credit: A' Design Awards.

photo credit: A’ Design Awards.

SIX HATS

all hatsI then went over my idea using Edward de Bono’s idea of six thinking hats.

The six hats method is to wear (or imagine wearing) a coloured hat. There are six different colours in total, and each colour represents a different way of thinking. While wearing each hat, the colour of the hat defines the way in which the wearer should think.

It is a really useful to practice the technique of separating ways of thinking, to see your project from other perspectives and see things you wouldn’t otherwise.

The six hats are:

The green hat

The hat of creativity, focusing on new solutions to problems and different ideas.

Green hat text

The black hat

The hat of pessimism, looking for all the negative points, being cautious and defensive.

Black hat text

The white hat

The hat of logic, only dealing with facts and data.

White hat text

The yellow hat

The hat of positivity, seeing the benefits and value.

Yellow hat text

The red hat

The hat of emotion, instinct and gut-feeling.

Red hat text

The blue hat

The hat that controls the session, the chairman of the meeting.

Blue hat text

All these hats, used individually, can be a very useful tool. It can really help to look at an idea or problem from a different standpoint.

I then moved on to use the 9×9 method, where I sketched out three ideas to solve the problem of a child waking during the night. I then passed it to Sam who filled in the the next three boxes with ideas that expanded on mine. I then filled in the next three boxes, adding to the last sketches. The outcome is below.

9x9

From there, I made more lists about how to solve the particular problems of heating and cooling the child.

waysofheatingcooling

COOLING

I quickly discovered that more research was needed into the latest technology, to find out what is/will be possible with fabrics, especially with regards to temperature control. There is something called Coolcore that uses a blend of yarns to draw sweat away from the body and dry it quicker. There are a lot of other ‘unique blends’ of fabric that offer this kind of ‘technology’, including Sportingtex and Komfortas. There is also a company, Mountain Hardwear that markets a product, Cool.Q ZERO, where the fabric is said to contain an ‘active cooling agent next to your skin that reacts with your sweat to lower the temperature of the fabric’.

This sort of technology could be included in my wearable technology design. The problem with the first set of cooling fabrics is that there is no way of turning them off and on. The last uses sweat to activate the cooling process, so would be suitable on a child if sweating during the night occurs.

I also found Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Zero claims to do the same thing. There is a lot of new technology in this field, specifically created as sportswear for use by athletes while exercising. This could easily be transferred to my project.

HEATING

Heating is a lot easier, as things like the electric blanket have been around for a considerable amount of time. The electric blanket itself was invented in 1912. Since then, there have been lots of inventions around the same theme. One project I found was heated slippers. The technology is definitely there, to allow for fibres to be woven into the garment and switched on if the wearer’s temperature has been read as too low.

MOISTURE

I also came up with the idea in the 9×9 grid of having a vest that had sensors built into the poppers that could alert the parents if the child is wet. Urine is an irritant, and could cause rashes and broken skin if left too long. The alarm system will help to prevent this.

VITAL SIGNS

To find out what else parent’s want in a gadget for children, I looked at what is currently on the market. I already own a baby monitor that connects to a sensor pad, which sets off an alarm if no movement is detected after 20 seconds. The pad is sensitive enough to detect breathing when placed under the mattress.

I found this really interesting article on Gizmag that outlines some new projects and advances in wearable technology – particularly new fabrics. The BioMan Fabric from AiQ is described in the post as ‘made from a conductive fabric sewn together from stainless steel yarns. It monitors vital signs, such as heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature, and with integrated Bluetooth connectivity, sends that information to a smartphone for analysis’. This would be perfect for monitoring the vital signs of an infant during the night.

I am going to use all this research and the creative techniques to design nightwear for an infant/child.

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05 May

Creative Design Lab: Wearable technology week 1

This wearable technology project starts with some research into two existing projects referred to in the Microsoft Research report:

1. Ambient Wood, a project that combines a physical environment with augmented reality, for the purpose of creating a fun and interactive learning experience for children.

2. Whereabouts Clock which uses SMS messaging to alert a device when a family member moves location. The location is displayed on the clock device.

I begun by looking at different sorts of ‘wearables’ that technology could be integrated into. I used the A-Z method, to quickly come up with a range of different things and start thinking creatively.

atoz

The two groups of people I’m going to be looking at designing for specifically in this project are children and the elderly. The first thing I did was create a series of mind maps, focusing on the problems and desires of these particular groups.

childrenelderlymindmaps

From this, I decided to concentrate on the topic of children having trouble sleeping. The task that needs to take place is to adjust sleeping conditions to help the child back to sleep. I created a task analysis flow diagram to consider the actions needed for this.

flowchart

Other functions that could be added include sensing if the child is wet, dehydrated or a sensor that sends information to a separate device to monitor the child’s sleeping pattern.

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28 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 5

Today, I presented my project and received feedback on my location-based game.

Overall, the response was positive, but there was some confusion as to where the starting point was.

I had assumed that when the user goes to the park, as there is only one entrance, the tasks have to be completed in order. Although, I have overlooked that the user could become confused, miss sections out or just get lost. I adjusted my game according to this feedback. I added a quest (the only quest that comes up in the beginning) that directs the user to the meeting place. After the meeting place plaque is viewed, the next quest to collect ten pieces of treasure appears.

 

quest beginning

It was simple things like this that really made the presentation and testing worthwhile.

I also added a logo and splash page photo to my game, to help make it stand out from others in the list. I decided to use the coin image I’ve used throughout the game for consistency and to highlight the fact that it is a treasure hunt game.

AbbottsWoodGame

In terms of the characters and storyline, the feedback was encouraging and I think that children would enjoy playing the game as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

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07 Apr

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 4

I have spent this week putting together the narrative game.

The plot goes as follows:

1. User goes to the meeting point, which opens the first quest, along with a quest to collect ten pieces of treasure.

2. User must walk along the path to find the tall trees.

3. When the user has found the trees, a character pops up.

4. The character is a pine cone called Betty, who asks for help. She wants to find her friend Peter. She says she will give you a reward as a thank you for helping.

5. The user then can talk to Peter, then again to Betty who gives you a piece of treasure as a reward.

6. Further along the trail, there are some flowers. There is some treasure amongst them.

The game continues along this theme of helping creatures/collecting treasure. The aim is to get the user to feel compelled to complete the game, and in doing so walk along the trail, as well as looking and interacting with nature.

Editing the ARIS game online.

Editing the ARIS game online.

I found using the online editor very easy to use. It’s possible to get a game up and running in a very short amount of time.

I edited the notes I made on the map to make sure my game followed the correct path, and linked to the location of objects (using the GPS on my smartphone – see week 2).InventoryScreenshot

The treasure collected goes into the users inventory.

It was really important to test the game as I was creating it. Testing the prototype highlighted issues with the gameplay and various loopholes. One important one was I realised that after finding Peter, the user could talk to Betty and collect the treasure from her an infinite number of times, thus completing the game. I went back into the editor, and created a requirement that meant the treasure could only be collected from her once. Each piece of treasure had to have this requirement, allowing each player to collect the treasure only once, but allowing an infinite number of players.

There are a lot of elements that I added to the game as I discovered what was possible with ARIS. For example, I added a piece of treasure that only popped up when the user followed the instructions to find and take a picture of an insect and upload it to the the map. I added this piece of treasure to the map with a requirement that the user has to have ‘created a note with an image near’ the location. The only downside with this is the image could be of anything… it would be good if there could be some sort of recognition for specific items. At the moment, there is quite a lot of responsibility placed on the user to play the game correctly.

PeterScreenshot

I tested the game using the ‘quick travel’ feature, which allows the user to cheat the location aspect.

The game could be expanded to have different levels, longer paths and different areas of the park. As this is the first game I’ve created using ARIS, most of this project has been about ideas generation and learning the boundaries of the technology.

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31 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 3

This week I started with character design and storyboarding for my narrative game.

My character is based on the image of a pine cone I took last week on location.

Character design

I really like the idea of having good and bad characters. The one I’ve made is quite cheeky, playful and childlike. After creating the character’s personality and other details, I begun playing around with Morfo. It is a downloadable app that allows for quick creation of animations based on a photograph.

This is the first video I made playing around with this idea on Morfo.

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24 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 2

This week, I visited the location of my game, Abbots Wood. While I was there, I used the app on my phone to log in to ARIS. As a player in the game, I took photos and made notes on the map using my phone’s GPS. I concentrated on gathering images I could then use to animate characters, inspire players to find similar objects or use to simply teach players about those objects.

I took a number of scenic photographs, and a number of close-ups to get an idea of the area in which the game would take place.

Trees in Abbots Wood Pine Cone

After going to the location, it gave me a better idea of what was available to work with.

I did some research in to gaming, and the idea of this game layer. I found this interesting TED talk (below) that describes the game layer that I will be looking at in my location based nature trail.

I am looking into two different game ideas: the first is a treasure hunt, where the player is required to go to specific locations and find specific objects (a combination of real and virtual). The second is a narrative version, with characters that the player can ‘talk’ to and a sequence of tasks to complete for a reason specified within the game.

TREASURE HUNT

Over the next week I am going to create a version of the game, starting at the meeting point and following the trail where users are required to pick up objects along the way. This includes physical activities such as ‘find a pine cone’, placed on the map near some coniferous trees, and virtual challenges like picking up ‘treasure’ on-route.

It encourages the player to continue down the nature trail, and interact with nature in a fun way.

NARRATIVE VERSION

This version will include more of a storyline, and characters to talk to and interact with. I will look at storyboarding the game and creating characters with a personality and details like whether they are trying to help the player or hinder them.

 

Research

I looked into existing games and technology related to my proposed project. I did some research into Geocaching, a ‘real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices’. It is a very successful project with hundreds of thousands of active players. The fact that it is popular makes it far more appealing, but also the interaction with real-life objects.

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17 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Contextual design week 1

This week is the beginning of a new project: a location based game encouraging children to go outside and learn about nature.

At the end of this project, I will have a working prototype of the ‘nature trail’ game, and develop a presentation to explain the game concept, along with these blog posts that outline the creative methods used to generate ideas.

Aris-Horizontal251

The very first thing we did was familiarise ourselves with the technology we would be using to create this game. We will be using ARIS in this project. ARIS will ‘allow the user to experience and interact with objects and experiences directly while also allowing digital augmentation to add more fun’, as described in our project brief.

I looked at games that had already been created on ARIS by downloading the app and researching what is possible.

Then, in groups, we created a series of mind maps on the topics of location, game model (principles), materials/objects they may interact with and senses.

Initial mindmapWe decided at this point to make individual games based on the ideas generated in our group sessions.

I am going to base my nature trail game in Abbots Wood, located just off the A27 near Polegate (East Sussex). It is a beautiful place, with lots of things to discover and explore. I want my nature trail to include having to walk a fair distance as well as searching, finding and collecting things, as the main aim behind the game is to educate children about nature, but also to encourage gentle exercise and the many other benefits to being outside.

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10 Mar

Creative Design Lab: Mobile app week 5

Over the last week, I’ve created a representation of my app in Photoshop. It includes a logo and icon for show on the home screen, as well as sample in-app screenshots. The icon was created used this template from pixelresort.com and the iPhone templates are freely available here.

funnybananasiconforblog

representationforblog

We each came up with a version, developed from the same storyboard and the same ideas. It was very interesting to see our creative differences in the graphics alone.

I used a lot of colour in mine, combined with simple shapes so as not to let it look cluttered and thus confusing the audience of children. I used a lot of circles and rounded shapes to give it an inviting and friendly appearance. I stuck to design rules like alignment and used fading of background elements to keep focus on the task at hand. I also tried to keep text to a minimum, given that our target demographic is children.

The following is a version by Amber James.

1972621_10203333691961732_853189926_o

 

The following was created by Raghad Badahdah.

raghadapp

The following was created by Elise Harbord.

EliseApp

I also created a flow chart to demonstrate the order of interaction within the app, as shown below. This was very useful as it highlighted to me that I needed to add a reset button on the screen where the user adds a face to the food, in case they don’t wish to save what they have created. Next time, I’ll make sure I do this exercise before creating the mockup, so I’ll know how many elements to include in the designs.

flowchart

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