interaction design :: user experience :: mobile tech
This was the keystone course of Georgia Tech's HCI Masters program, and wow, was it a lot of work.
The class centered around a project that was broken up into four different parts, which were intended to mirror the steps involved in the development of a commercial product: defining the problem and identifying the user population, creating design alternatives, choosing the best design and implementing it, and evaluating the product with potential users. Our group (four people) chose to address the needs of musicians in the orchestral rehearsal environment.
Our idea was to create a digital rehearsal assistant that enabled the musician to manage digitized versions of sheet music, and easily create and modify annotations in that music. OrchestrAid, as we called it, would also have wireless connectivity to a local area network, where it could talk to other musicians' machines to synch rehearsal schedules, share annotated copies of music, or even stream video and audio content.
This practical component of the course served as excellent reinforcement to the lectures. The project gave me an opportunity to see an idea through its entire lifecycle, from conception to evaulation, and really helped to demystify the process of design, and demonstrate its importance in the development of software-based products. Throughout the course of this class, I had the opportunity to practice formative evaluation techniques, such as interviews and questionnaires. I also learned how to design and execute an appropriate evaluation plan, employing techniques such as the think-aloud and cognitive walkthrough evaluation methods. This class was also an opportunity to increase my proficiency with a number of design tools; I was responsible for creating our storyboards with Adobe Illustrator (shown below), and prototyping part of our proposed user interface in Flash.
|Some sketches of one of our proposed design alternatives. This device would have a form factor similar to that of a tablet PC, and would sit on the user's music stand. The image on the right is part of a poster that we presented as part of the project.|
Frames from a storyboard for another design alternative. This design included a transparent screen mounted on an adjustable arm. The screen can be placed in the ideal position for the musician, probably in direct line of sight with the conductor. The arm was itself attached to a chair that has the capability to provide haptic feedback, in order to reduce some of the visual load of the musician. This [partial] storyboard illustrates the turning of a page using a foot pedal.