UX/UI work in progress. Polishing, finishing, and turning this into a working interface over the next couple of weeks.
Experimenting with Origami in Quartz Composer. Looking forward to tinkering with it a little more.
I recently started doing design sprints to experiment with tech ideas. Say hello to Listenly, a concept born from my first session.
The elevator pitch:
“For people consuming media on desktop and mobile devices who need a private yet comfortable listening experience, Listenly is a personal speaker that makes listening to media content more enjoyable. Unlike portable speakers and headphones, the product is ear-free and can only be heard by the person using them.”
In layman’s terms, only listeners positioned in front of the device can hear the sound coming from it. Listeners will no longer have to deal with things in their ears, restricted movement, and pesky wires. Yes, all of these benefits without compromising the privacy that headphones afford.
Listenly would be a device that pairs with laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It was designed to fit snugly on the edges of these devices. Additionally, a small clip located behind the device allows it to be fastened onto clothing or propped up on flat surfaces.
Its controls are simple the device can be turned on and off by pressing and holding the top face. Listeners can pause sound by gently tapping the device twice and resume sound by tapping it once.
Listenly would intelligently measure noise levels in the surrounding environment by leveraging mics onboard devices it’s paired with and set volume levels accordingly.
Where it could come in handy:
- Consuming media at work
- Consuming media when someone is sleeping nearby
- Consuming media while being active
- Consuming media while riding the plane, train, or bus
- Anytime you’re listening to “I Don’t give a ****” by Peaches
How did I arrive at Listenly? I started by asking the following question: what would I like to design/redesign? A system, service, or product?
I settled on designing a product and set the following criteria:
- It needed to be simple
- It needed to be useful in an everyday kind of sense
With this loose criterion in mind, I looked at design-thinking exercises that could help me generate ideas.
I ended up going with A Day in the Life, an exercise for examining people’s lives in detail — everything from waking up to falling asleep.
Here’s a step-by-step for anyone interested in recreating this exercise (make sure you have sticky notes, markers, and a flat surface):
- Start by mapping pieces of someone’s entire day on a timeline e.g. alarm goes off in the morning, they then shower etc. Take those pieces and order them under the following headlines: morning, afternoon, and evening.
Begin from personal experience and gradually move onto different perspectives e.g. family, friends, colleagues, and classmates. Give it your all and aim for quantity.
- Examine the pieces of someone’s day for places where pain-points may exist e.g. woken up abruptly by the obnoxious alarm clock in the morning or packed into a streetcar like a sardine.
“Waking up significant other with excessively loud alarm clock”
This was the pain-point that sparked ideas around sound isolation, which in turn, led to exploring scenarios where sound isolation might prove useful.
- When a nice body of pain-points has been generated, start thinking about products that lessen or remove those pain-points all together e.g. forgetting chargers at home = a device that converts energy from pedalling a bicycle into energy that powers laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
- Aim for 50 to 100 product ideas and mark ones you find most interesting after finishing.
- This is the tricky part, reduce your list a single idea, this is the idea you will be taking forward. If you’re having trouble narrowing things down, enlist others to help you discuss ideas and cast votes.
Once I had a direction, I looked into tech that could theoretically be used to actualize the ideas. The technology I came across is parametric speakers.
Here’s how they work: piezoelectric transducers produce two ultrasonic waves (red and blue), both at frequencies too high for humans to hear.
The transducers beam out modulated waves that travel in a single focused column — much like light beaming from a flashlight.
When the two waves hit someone, they slow down and demodulate, producing a new wave (green) whose frequency is much lower — equal to the difference between the red and blue waves. The frequency for this new wave is low enough for humans to hear.
When no one is positioned within the beams path, the wave keeps traveling without producing an audible noise. Moreover, the beam is inaudible to people nearby because these sound waves do not diverge from the source that makes them audible, unlike regular speakers.
At the present time, the technology is somewhat large and expensive; however, there are people currently trying to make it accessible.
Listenly is still very much a prototype. The industrial design process started with materials like paper and gradually progressed to more complex materials like hard-density Balsa Foam. At each stage, prototypes were scrutinized — flawed ideas were shelved or iterated upon.
Here’s a breakdown of the rapid prototyping process:
- Basic sketches
- Paper prototypes
- Foamcore prototypes
- Clay prototypes
- Hard-density Balsa Foam prototype
Tools of creation:
- Cutting board
- Ellipse stencil
- Flexible ruler
- FoamWerks foamboard cutters
- Generic wooden sculpting tool set
- Hand-held rotary cutters
- Sanding paper
- X-Acto knives
The final stage of the process involved 3D scanning the model and mending the mesh with Rhinoceros. The biggest hurdle was designing a form factor that was inclusive of all devices from a UI, UX, and ID perspective.
Having parametric speakers integrated into our devices is the optimal route. However, devices such as Listenly could exist as pioneers that validate market interest. Interested in knowing more? Have specific questions? Feel to reach out @edwinslara.
tweet2hold is an interactive app I co-created that identifies the sentiment of Twitter @replies and hashtags via sentiment analysis algorithms. tweet2hold takes the message’s sentiment data and uses it to produce an origami keepsake that embodies the data.
In other words, if the app identifies the message’s sentiment as being sad, it creates an origami keepsake that aesthetically looks sad (it can identify eight distinct emotions).
Conference booth journey from the exhibitor and attendee point of view. Broken down using the 5Es of usability: entice, enter, engage, exit, extend.
txt2hold is the second in a duo of interactive apps I co-created that identify the sentiment of messages. Instead of analyzing the sentiment of Twitter @replies and hashtags, txt2hold analyzes the sentiment of text messages on cell phones via sentiment analysis algorithms.
Like tweet2hold, txt2hold takes a text message’s sentiment data and uses it to produce an origami keepsake that embodies that data. If the app identifies the message’s sentiment as being sad, it creates an origami keepsake that aesthetically looks sad (it can identify eight distinct emotions). It debuted at Mini Maker Faire in 2011.
Glue is a working prototype that allows users to catalogue physical brainstorming sessions digitally.
Brainstorming is most effective when done physically with markers and paper, but this format also presents a set of problems: when done regularly, sessions become hard to track and ideas get lost.
Further more, people often refer to brainstorms during a project, so they generally stay up until the project they are associated with is completed. This behaviour creates another set of problems: paper management and clutter. Glue is a concept aimed at alleviating some of these problems.
Various user-centered and design thinking methodologies went into the creation of this prototype. I developed the functioning clickable version via Axure.