Additional materials: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-RqhxWjt3c6YnNfV1U0c3FMLUE?usp=sharing
Case: 73 year old man who has severe neuropathy and can’t feel his hands, feet, fingers or toes, just got into Words with Friends. He cannot simultaneously click and drag the mouse. He has to use one hand to hold down the button and the other hand to roll the track ball, to get the tile to move on the screen, which is very difficult.
Group Member: Bruce Luo and Sam Arellano
After watching the video from Marianne, we figured out that the main difficulty comes from using the trackball with two hands, and no apparent visual / audio feedback. In this stage, we mainly focused on separating cursor navigation from clicking and dragging, as well as other means of interacting with the game. We had a list of potentially usable body movements that could be possibly mapped to the input, and a few points we were not clear with. But at least we could help improving mouse interactions by making a larger, easier to use button box. Software improvements can also be made. Initially we focused very heavily on high tech and programming intensive solutions, but as we got further into the design process and brainstormed further iterations, we focused more on the low tech.
2. Prototyping for the hardware solution:
By using Makey Makey, we can make input device prototypes very rapidly. The first prototype we made was built with a cardboard box and foam holding the internal parts. The rest of the circuit and contact points are hand-drawn pencil lines. Not durable, but worked well enough for concept verification. Essentially, it’s a box that has two big pedals as the two buttons on a mouse. When they are pressed, a LED indicator lights up. Aside from the makey makey, this prototype was about as low cost as possible.
3. Software ideas:
4. Feedback and improvements:
After getting some feedback from the guest speaker, rest of the class, as well as Marianne, we started rethinking about our solutions. We made another version of the box that is smaller and more durable, combining it with switch control. Since the trackball isn’t the ideal way of navigating using palm, we decided to introduce IR touch panels, which can be programmed to behave like a trackpad on laptop, but only larger.
Bruce personal reflection:
This is my first time designing something specifically for someone. It’s actually more interesting and challenging than I previously thought. One important lesson I learned is not to over complicate simple stuff. The most reliable and easy to use and maintain solutions are often low-tech, though hi-tech solutions can provide better experience if done right.
Another challenge is not being able to talk to the subject directly. We have to make close observations watching the same video and text descriptions over and over again. Having to make assumptions, we ended up delivering a few different solutions for different assumptions we made. During the process, I had such feeling that my design thinking abilities are put into test and became better in return.
Sam personal reflection:
This project really put forth a unique type of design challenge I hadn’t experienced before. My previous projects have primarily been focused around identifying a specific demographic and then creating with the majority and perceived “normal” or “average” in mind. This is the way it’s done in many industries and as such the negative consequences of this on the minority groups who get hit the hardest never was at the forefront of my mind. Not because I had no experience with living with or interacting with disabled individuals, in fact despite my personal experience, I always perceived industry standard as the right or only way to do many things. As such this project was very eye opening at the massive yet often unnoticed need for inclusive design. I think of rapid prototyping mainly for agile development in the business sphere, but this was a great example of how it can be done in a purely not for profit domain, and how much more effective it might be here with budget constraints being even tighter than they would than in creation of a product. I definitely would like to work on more cases like this and possibly follow up on this specific case in case I can offer more assistance to the man we were designing for.