My project is about prolonging independent living among the elderly. This is a highly topical matter of late due to the government aiming to keep those living independently in their homes for as long as possible to reduce costs on residential care.
In Phase 1 I gained deeper research in my area of interest following on from Phase 0 by speaking to potential users and professions. Moving forward from ideas day (post here: http://feeoonah.co.uk/2011/11/07/ideas-day/) I decided to combine two of my original idea ‘subtle reassurance’ and connecting families. From there I took an ethnographic route through photography, visiting elderly relatives to understand what surrounding I would like my product to fit. Having struggled to secure a focus group I was advised to take this knock back as an opportunity to look at my project from a different angle and see what was easily assessable in terms of potential user input. To do this I asked my friends parents (to with I termed ‘the middle-agers’- they will hate me!) because they would be my potential secondary user. I wanted to gain an understanding of how they communicated with their parents, some lived locally others far away to try and help me map out certain scenarios of how the product would work to connect families together. The feedback I received showed that many used the telephone, a small amount wrote letters and most people visited their relatives/friends. I was interested to know if people would want a device like this in their home to alert them of their parents well being.. hourly, daily or weekly? The majority wanted reassurance on a daily basis and only a small amount said they did not feel if was necessary for them at this time. From there I was still curious about what other setting I could see my product working in, I arranged a visit to a care home and also shadowed an occupational therapist for the morning that really made me think thoroughly about what scenario I could and couldn’t see my product working in. I came to the conclusion that the care home environment would not be the best place for my product but from shadowing at the hospital I could see my product fitting into patients home when they have just left hospital. I have carried out other probes into my users lives by asking them to take photographs of their fridges, and querying what product they used on a daily basis to judge where is best for the potential product to be placed in their house.
Over the past few weeks I have been sketching and exploring form, making non technical prototypes, and understanding how my product might work through attending the Arduino workshop which I found very beneficial.
I am lucky to have spoken to a lot of people about my project and have experienced different setting that I have explored during my research stage to see if my product would fit in that environment. At the time when we were to make a video I was researching where I could see my product being used to its full potential, I wanted to explore the nursing home and gather some ethnography style photographs. I am pleased I visited the home because although it might have seemed like a move in a different direction at the time I know now that it was necessary so I know that I have explored that area and realized that in fact the type of product and idea I had in mind would not would best in this environment.
Although I was fortunate enough to speak to several people regarding my research, I did not have a formal focus group as originally planned, when trying to organize the event I was told to wait till after Christmas when the group would be less busy. I took Graham’s advice after feeling a bit down about this and took another approach to the project that was much more accessible, speaking to my friends parents who all have parents around the age I am designing for and my contacts in nursing.
I also think that I could have better time keeping within phase 1 especially around dissertation hand in, I know I certainly wasn’t the only one but I did struggle to put equal amount of effort into both projects around this time.
I also think that I have maybe spent too much time gathering user insights and researching and that I could have maybe spent more time making quick prototypes but I am thinking along these lines a lot more now and have the information I need and the contacts in place to show these prototypes to in the future weeks.
Overall Phase 1 has allowed me to deepen my research from Phase 0 and to give me a change to take different direction regarding my research and explore. I have gained some good insights and have started to prototype and see what is in store for Phase 2
Moving forward from Phase 1 I have three main areas I intend on focusing in:
- Prototyping forms
- How the information will be received
Additional information regarding how my Phase 1 journey has been can be found afew posts earlier under tutorial 2012.