Social isolation measures due to the pandemic have prevented many of us from being able to spend time with our loved ones, leaving many people craving social connection. While widely used technology can help facilitate verbal or written communication (video conferencing, texts, emails, etc.), how do we facilitate non-verbal communication such as presence or touch?
Send ambient light messages to loved ones using the three main interactions:
Using the framework of our initial goal to design a solution that facilitates social connection, we wanted to focus more on ambiguous forms of communication. Since many types of technology focus on enabling verbal and written communication, we were interested in exploring how technology could facilitate non-verbal communication - something many of us have craved during the pandemic.
Since this project focused on prototyping, we conducted a fairly short secondary research process before jumping straight into the ideation phase. We gathered 20 examples of scholarly research projects that used technology to promote social connectedness.
We conducted an ideation workshop during which we each sketched 5 potential design concepts. We then dot-voted and down-selected to 6 total ideas as a team based on our design dimensions and feasibility.
- Validate the concept ideas
- Gather additional use cases to help refine the concepts
- Brainstorm more features and functionalities
- Watch each prototype video
- Record immediate feedback of the concepts on Miro sticky notes
- Draw yourself using each concept, including any additional features you want
- Line-judge vote on which concept you like better
Wizard of Oz Prototype
Our WOZ prototype consisted of two light up balls that we could (secretly) controll with a remote.
We conducted 3 prototype testing sessions over Zoom in which one of our team members was in the same physical location as the participant and the rest of the team were remote. In this scenario, the participant would interact with one of the prototypes, while the member of our team in the room with them (the Wizard) would discretely control the lights with the remote, and a remote team member (the Assistant) held up the other prototype to their camera and controlled the lights with their remote out of frame.
We also conducted a separate prototype testing session with the KidsTeam over Zoom, during which two members of our team held the prototype up to the camera and controlled the lights with the remote out of frame.
- Test squeeze and shake interaction communication modalities for triggering LED light feedback on partner’s Oobi
- Understand what scenarios users envision themselves using Oobi (who, where, when, why)
- Define the number and type of desired communication interactions (in addition to the ones included in this study)
- Overall, determine if Oobi facilitates a sense of togetherness while being physically apart
- Preliminary questions about using technology to foster “togetherness”
- Present the prototype and explain how it works
- Interact with the prototype to convey “Hello”, “I miss you”, and “I’m feeling down”
- The Assistant controls their prototype to light up when messages are sent by the participant
- Participant explains the action taken and the reasoning
- Switch the interaction model so that the participant is on the receiving end of the messages
- The Assistant repeats these interactions on their end while the Wizard controls the participant’s prototype
- Reveal the WOz!