UX + Product design
To explore “human-centered design” through designing an object or experience that only made sense for a single person.
For a New Media class that I have taken, along with a talented team of 3 students, we designed a hyper-personal object for Christina Ong, a UC Berkeley senior studying Geophysics and minoring in Cal Teach.
User interview, Prototyping, Product Design
Our client who we’d like to design a hyper-personal object for is Christina Ong, a UC Berkeley senior studying Geophysics and minoring in Cal Teach.
We wanted to get to know Christina on a deep, personal level, and design something that will be a “painkiller” that she will love and use. In order to do that, we conducted a series of long interviews with her, with a specific focus on her passion for teaching, and here are some highlights of our findings:
She is a part of ANOVA, an on-campus organization that mentors students on computer science.
She's passionate about helping and teaching kids, and she encourages group works, and having class/group competitions. However, sometimes she struggles with engaging students in class.
A teaching tool that she found worked well is a simple point/reward system where the kids get to hold onto a poker card whenever they answer a question to symbolize a point earned. She also told us that students like holding onto something physical.
She enjoys anime (especially Pokémon), cosplaying, and cute things like eggs.
Defining the problem space.
It wasn’t immediately clear to us what is a problem that Christina would like to solve at the beginning. While we were conducting the series of interviews, we also brainstormed different ideas for the object that we’d like to build - like a personalized mannequin for her to make cosplay costumes, a custom stamp for her to grade assignments, and gadgets to help her dog get on the chairs.
What we realized, as we drew insights from the interviews that we’ve conducted, is that Christina really has a passion for teaching, and she’s having trouble engaging her students in class.
From there, we decided to make a personalized teaching tool for Christina to help her engage her students in class, facilitate student interactions and interests in the class materials, and incorporate her personal preferences to make it uniquely hers.
Since our product is highly interactive, sketching really helped us understand the mechanism, as we designed different components of the box.
We made multiple sketches, and kept improving the design as we prototype and iterate, which also helped solidify our final prototype.
The final idea is that it’d be a Pokemon-themed, piggy-bank-like box that students can interact with in class.
The teacher (Christina) would distribute egg-shaped tokens for any student achievements, and as students earn their tokens in class, they can deposit them into Pokébox. As the tokens add up to reach a certain amount, the Pokémon on top of the box evolves. When it reaches its final evolution, Christina can then choose to reward the students.
One of the important aspects of our project is a functioning prototype, and this involved an iterative process of prototyping at different fidelities.
Starting with a low fidelity cardboard prototype, out team had several iterations as we improved our design. We adjusted relative sizes of each component to make sure that they’d work with each other (including a box and some electronic components), made sure that the mechanism of the teaching tool would be intuitive and easy to use, and lastly, the final product would be visually appealing to both Christina and her students.
How it Works
Christina may choose to use the tokens to symbolize class participation.
When a student answers a question, he/she receives a token.
Students deposit the token into the Pokébox at the end of the class
Tokens start to add up and fill the first tick-mark on the front of the box - Christina can then evolve the Bulbasaur into Ivysaur.
Tokens start to add up and fill the second tick-mark on the front of the box - Christina can then evolve the Ivysaur into Venusaur.
When the box is all filled up, the Pokémon has reached its final evolution, Christina can reward the students with a pizza party.
OBJECTIVE: STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
A reward system to encourage students to participate in class.
The idea is that there would be an immediate reward (egg, sound and lighting effects), and a long-term reward (evolving the pokemon) for the students (from the book 1-2-3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2–12).
Physical objects as token.
From our interview with Christina, we've learned that students enjoy having a physical object to hold onto. We decided to make a box that can be filled up by tokens shaped like Pokemon eggs, which can be earned in class through activities like answering questions, handing in exit tickets, or acing a quiz/project, etc.
OBJECTIVE: PERSONALIZED PREFERENCES
Christina enjoys anime, especially Pokemon.
Our box is Pokemon themed. We also chose the Pokemon Bulbasaur, because Christina likes the original Pokemons, and her favorite type is grass type.
She loves cute objects, especially eggs.
She told us that she likes cute things, and she find eggs especially cute. So we made the tokens in the form of Pokemon eggs, which also goes with the theme of evolving the Pokemon.
Watch a video of our prototype and Christina’s reactions when she received it!
Initially, we were intrigued by her pet dog Jojo (who is absolutely adorable by the way, and you can find him on instagram @jojothepembrokecorgi), but from interviews, we've learned that that her true passion lies in teaching and helping children to learn. Being able to understand her struggles and passion in life, I feel like we've grabbed hold of something that core to her life, and I'm glad that we were able to reach that stage and really get to know her.
The best part was watching her reaction when we gave her our final prototype. She was so excited that she took it around to show her friends, and she was able to explain exactly how it works in less than half an hour after she received the product herself.
It was satisfying knowing that we were able to design something that truly made sense to her, and that she would use in her classroom in the future.
I wish that we had finished prototyping earlier, so that we can present it to her before we had our provocation critique and iterate further based on her feedback. While we have finished the project for the class, we will continue to improve the prototype for her, and we are excited to hear her feedbacks!
Critical Practices* is a studio design course where students work at the intersection of technological innovation and socially engaged art.