Product Design Case Study
A smart ring solution that makes presenting easy and seamless!
For the term project of our Inclusive Design course, we collaborated with Maitri Shah, an entrepreneur having muscular dystrophy, to identify unique challenges faced by her on day-to-day basis, and design solutions that cater to her needs while also benefitting a wider population.
Role: UX Researcher, Co-Designer
Team: Dawson Hoppes, Mahitha Kalyani, Naishi Jain
Methods & Tools: Co-Design, Figma
Duration: 10 weeks
In today’s world, everyone strives for autonomy and independence. Being a trailblazer for the people with disabilities, Maitri is often invited to various events to talk about her work and pitch for her start-up. While presenting, she faces several challenges that constrain her autonomy.
Create a product that allows the user to present seamlessly and with complete autonomy.
Spin, is a smart ring solution that enables its user to connect with Google Slides and control the presentation autonomously.
Spin the ring inwards to go to the next slide, and out to go back.
Long press on the ring to enter and exit the highlight mode.
Tap the ring to go to the next highlighted block.
The video prototype describes the steps involved in setting up and using Spin to control slides and highlighting content, while presenting. It also explains the process of assigning highlights using Google Slides.
“If it were actually a product, I would buy it!”
No new hardware attachments to the user's wheelchair
As the heavy chair usually needs to be lifted to the stage due to lack of a ramp
Intuitive micro-interactions with the ring
So it doesn’t distract the user while presenting
Subtle, sleek and almost invisible to the audience’s eye
So it doesn't divert the audience’s attention.
“It's not just for people with disabilities, anybody can use it!”
People with disability usually complain that their needs are not taken into consideration while designing for them. Hence, we used the participatory design method to involve the user early in the design process, to gain in-depth exposure to their needs and background. This method also allows mutal learning wherein the participant learns about the technological possibilities and the designers learn about their context.
In this phase we established a bond with participant and on-boarded her as co-designer through an ice-breaker interview.
As an ice-breaker activity and to learn about the daily needs and challenges of the participant, each of us created storyboards of a typical day in our lives and discussed them briefly.
We brainstormed and sketched design ideas serving the daily needs or challenges.
Since our participant was in India, we conducted a remote co-design session. Through the interview, we narrowed down on the challenge of not being able to give presentations autonomously. In the co-design session, we shared some sketches of initial ideas.
Design Idea 1: Using Speech as a modality to control presentation slides.
Challenge: Unexpected slide changes when trigger words are uttered unintentionally.
Design Idea 2: Using Touch as a modality to control presentation slides.
Challenge: Participant was wary of adding any hardware attachments to the wheelchair as they expensive and might add to the bulk of the chair.
Design Idea 3: Using Gestures as a modality to control presentation slides.
Challenge: Participant found this to be a funny-hat solution as no gestures would be subtle enough.
Technique: Big Paper
The second half of the co-design session involved brainstorming new design ideas with the participant using a participatory design technique called ‘big-paper’.
The Big Paper method allows the co-designers to build on each other's ideas while sketching.
Since the participant was remotely engaging with us, we used an online whiteboard to sketch and brainstorm ideas to collaborate with the remote co-designer.
The design evaluation was conducted remotely using the Wizard of Oz method. We observed her while she interacted with the prototype and used the Think-Aloud protocol to record her feedback.
The color and shape of the highlight can disturb the visual aesthetic of the presentation.
Insight: Instead of using color to highlight sections of the presentation, the presentation could zoom in to different parts of the slide.
The users of the ring might accidentally change slides without realizing while twiddling their thumbs.
Insight: There should be some feedback (haptic) that is provided for actions done by users.
The direction in which the user wears the ring. This might potentially change the way the gestures change slides.
Insight: There is a need for a physical marker on the ring indicating the direction in which it should be worn.
“This is like driving a car, after a few tries it would feel natural”.
The conceptual idea of the final product was given by the participant. This input truly made me realize the power of participatory design as a research method and the benefits of involving the user in the early stages of the design process. One of the challenges we faced was conducting the co-design session remotely, as we didn't have good collaboration tools for building on each other's designs.
This project gave me the opportunity of working with a person with disability thus helping me recognize my own biases. I am now able to think for a full range of human diversity and identify the populations I might be excluding while designing. For example, this product excludes population with no fingers or other motor disabilities or from low economic background. Solutions for the edge cases usually tend to work for the median populations.
We would like to thank Maitri for her efforts and time. This project wouldn't have been the way it is without her inputs!
Maitri Shah on the screen, Mahitha Kalyani, Naishi Jain, Dawson Hoppes (Left to Right)