Cultural Probe 1

20 Apr

Placement of Ambient Energy Information Display

Placement of Ambient Information Display

I decided to conduct cultural probes because they will allow me to evaluate potential users interaction with the prototypes within the intended interaction setting. Because of the nature of my prototype it is also very important that I evaluate the user’s experience and satisfaction of using the prototype over a period of time. In order to know if my prototype is successful I need a potential user to interact with it as they are going about their normal, daily lives. The prototype cannot be properly evaluated in an organised user testing setup because this is not the way it will be used in reality. This will help me develop a design that will cater for the user’s needs and capable of seamlessly fitting in with their lives.

I set up the prototype in the dinning room of a three bedroom house located in Cork City centre. There is a male and female in their 50’s and another female that is in her 30’s. I left the prototype in the house for 5 days and provided each member with a probe pack. Within the pack was an instruction sheet and a notebook and pen that I wanted them to use to take notes. Before we began I described my project and explained what I wanted them to do.

I wanted each member to self report each time they thought about or interacted with the prototype. I explained that I wanted them to report their feelings, thoughts  and experiences of using the prototype. I included a few questions and bullet points on the instruction sheet to help stimulate thought. Basically I wanted each member to explain what, where why, when, who and how they interacted with the prototype. I also asked them to  report any improvements, likes or dislikes.

Main Findings that influenced change in the prototype

  • “Not very interested in the in between colours I just have a quick glance to see if its blue or red”
  • “It seems to be always blue and then every now and again it goes Red if someone in the shower or kettle is on etc”

The focus seemed to be on how it changes when large appliances are turned on but not on any of the small changes. Numerous times it was mentioned or suggested in some way that it needed to be more sensitive, and change colour more throughout the day and not just when large appliances are turned on.

Because of this I introduced a third colour which would allow me to make the prototype more sensitive and at the same time not go red easily. On testing this with the same group of people they all preferred it and agreed that it worked better.

  • “At night in a dark room the colours are much too bright”

This inspired me to investigate including a light sensor so that when the room gets darker the light dims. I am only implementing this feature at present so I still have not tested the results.

  • “Can you turn it off? Now that I’m conscious of turning lights off around the house it seems mad to leave this on all the time”

This supports my decision to include a motion sensor so that when nobody is in the room the prototype will automatically turn itself off.


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