Essay: Energy saving prototype – design and testing

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There is research available at length that describes the formation of attachment to a product, an example is that done by Ruth Mugge. From her research it becomes clear that there are four main factors that can influence product attachment: self-expression (can I distinguish myself from others with the product?), group affiliation (does ownership of the product connect me to a group?), memories (related to the product) and pleasure (provided by the product). Personalization being the most important factor in the list (Mugge, 2007) An interplay between these theories and features should be investigated
viii. Other literature
There has been more research done very specifically into how wasteful behavior can be combated with respect to energy consumption from a less psychological standpoint. Encouraging pro-environmental behavior change specifically, has been approached by for example, policy makers from around the globe.
The European commission issued a list of techniques in their 2012 “Science for environment policy” concerning the stimulation of pro-environmental behavior. The publication states that goal setting, social modeling, cognitive dissonance and prompts were found to be the most effective among examined techniques for behavior change. These accounted for an overall performance boost of 20% in energy saving behavior. (European commission, 2012)
2008, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) published a paper providing a framework for pro environmental behaviors. This
framework was constructed on the base of a large user group, segmented into seven types of personality (from environmentalist to highly critical). It provides a number of tailored approaches directly aimed at individual user segments (DEFRA, 2008)
Jon Froelich compiles an interesting table of often used psychological techniques for sustainable behavior in his gamifying green essay. Composed from various sources he highlights five techniques that can be employed (alone or in succession) to promote sustainable behavior (Froelich, 2015)
ix. Conclusion behavior change
People are of origin non sustainable beings, and altruism does not really manifest itself without some form of personal gain, pure altruism simply does not seem to exist according to found theories. But while this is a grim view, there is hope in being able to achieve sustainable behavior by providing external intrinsic motivators. Triggering intrinsic motivation and make sustainability a gratifying activity in itself.
The research into behavior change pointed out a number of interesting facts, and helped me define and refine a specific strategy for designing. It became very clear that behavior change is a very complicated concept, that designing a product that influences a psychological process is even more challenging and that not one single approach can guarantee results. Because of this, I first tried to define the most common approach and this is where the social element jumped out.
Social dynamics in general
Using social dynamics to leverage a behavior change is ubiquitous throughout behavior change literature and theory. Peer pressure, collaboration and social reward are effective and formed a good initial focus for the project. This common denominator led to more extensive research and discovery of Tromp and Fogg’s writing on the subject.
Social design
While social design is a name that is somewhat misleading in that it targets societal problems and not social interaction per se, this framework helped me create a strategy for designing. By wanting a low force of influence and high salience of influence it became apparent that the persuasive approach would be most fitting, leading to deeper research in this area.
Persuasive technology design
Fogg’s theories and methods were especially helpful later on in the project when defining the role I wanted technology to play. The functional triad and its division of designs
into social actors , tools and media helped define how input should be received and processed, and output should be given to activate users.
Gamification
Gamification is a strategy that is very applicable in this situation to create a motivator, however, heavy reliance on extrinsic motivators will not achieve the long term behavior change that I am looking for. Reflection and realization should be exploited, games should be gratifying without reward, they should provide a form of intrinsic joy.
Product attachment.
The research into product attachment was very vision driven, however, it is a very valid way to create a persuasive motivator for behavior change. Designing the final product in such a way that is provokes feelings of attachment could boost motivation intrinsically.
Other literature
Conclusions from other literature sources are quite diverse, what is important to realize from this however, is that layering strategies can strengthen effects that I want to achieve.
Design methodology plays a very prominent part in the exploratory section of this thesis. Next to the examination of behavioral change models, a number of methods were employed to generate an initial sense of direction in the project. Design methods foster, or even force creativity. While the best ideas are often spontaneous, a commissioned project simply does not allow for a designer to sit around waiting. A design project follows a time-line, and creativity needs to be stimulated and pushed in order to hit deadlines.
Methods help in structuring a process, and while their outcome is never a guarantee
of success, they can offer a great guideline for exploring different facets of a design problem. In this project I used design methods like VIP (Vision In Product design) and later SID (Social Implication Design) to create a first direction, vision and concept which was then used as a starting point for iterative design.
This section details how the proposed methods work and in what context they are applicable. The section ends with a description of how I fit methods together to form my overall project approach.
ii. Methodology: The VIP method (deconstruction)
The VIP method is a very straightforward method created by Paul Hekkert, Matthijs van Dijk and Peter Lloyd that supports the conceptualization of a future product. VIP lets a designer deconstruct a current product, context and interaction, identifying problems and opportunities in both. Once thorough analysis is complete the designer projects this product into a future context and makes relevant adjustments. (Hekkert et al., 2001) I used VIP as a starting point for my design process as it enabled me to explore the current design and identify shortcomings.
Contextmapping
Context mapping is a generative method often used to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and wants of a target group. By examining the context around a user in depth, many conscious and subconscious requirements for a design can be uncovered. “The aim is not just to uncover user insights, but also to carry this through in product concepts and
product development.” (IDStudiolab, 2015) Different contextmapping techniques were employed throughout the research phase of the project.
iv. The SID method
To focus on social issues at hand and to be able to start conceptualizing I fed the outcome of the VIP into the SID method. The SID method was developed by Paul Hekkert and Nynke Tromp as a continuation of the VIP method. SID aims to help a designer reason from a social statement towards a design proposal. Using a similar time-line to the
VIP method, a designer can move from defining the desired social effect to defining a facilitating behavior to strategy development to conceptualization (Tromp, 2013).
v. Design with intent
A small mention should be made of the design with intent card-set developed by Dan Lockton. “Design with Intent aims to give practitioners a more nuanced approach to design and behaviour, working with people, people’s understanding, and the complexities of everyday human experience. It’s a collection of design patterns—and a design
and research approach—for exploring the interactions between design and people’s behaviour, across products, services and environments, both digital and physical.” “Design with Intent is aimed particularly at socially and environmentally beneficial behaviour change. The patterns are drawn from a range of disciplines, and are phrased as provocations to enable use as both a workshop tool, and a guide for exploring the field. “The card-set helped structure thoughts and define focus on numerous occasions throughout the process. (Lockton, 2015)
vi. Iterative approach and rapid prototyping
The overall approach that was decided on for my graduation research project was one of iterative cycles. Four cycles of designing, building, testing and evaluating were planned together with my supervisory team. An iterative process requires a designer to make quick prototypes which are tested after completion, a very user centered approach in my case. Testing prototypes and setting up experiments allows the designer to test intended interactions, evaluate effectiveness of a design and eliminate usability issues all in one go. Once complete, results of an iteration can be fed into the incremental improvement of the next iteration. Using this “enlightened trial and error” process, as IDEO founder David Kelley calls it, is a great way to approach any design problem (Kelley, 2001)
Four iterative cycles imply a very short research and ideation phase, which made sense due to the amount of prior research and knowledge amassed in other graduation projects.
Mention should be made of the unmissable role that (rapid) prototyping and mock-up techniques played during the project. Arduino, CNC, but also playacting techniques like “Wizard of Oz” facilitated the fast creation of a minimum viable product that could be used in user tests for concept evaluation.
vii. Conclusions method & decided approach detail
While VIP and SID are logically sequential, they do not allow for continuous use in an iterative process as this would be time consuming and ineffective. For this reason the methods were only used in the generation of a first concept and overall design vision. VIP and SID provide a great platform from which the context and problem area of a design can be examined,. Following analysis and generation of a first concept, the iterative process was started. The decision was made to theme each iteration according to the generated design vision. This was done to optimally implement and investigate each part and its effects (n.b. Cycles were themed as follows: Care, Social motivation, Community and lastly bringing all elements together).
In reality it was found that my iterative cycles never took the form of perfect cycles ending in evaluation. Rather, an iterative cycle led back into design before moving on to the next iteration often accompanied by re-evaluation of literature. The next page shows a visual overview of the entire process.
The research and exploration done up until this point serve as a strong base from which to formulate a fitting design goal and interaction vision. This goal and vision will guide my design process from this point onwards and serve as a benchmark to which i can test my designed solutions. The design goal defines clearly the angle of approach for the design, while the vision uses a metaphor to describe intended qualities.
i. Design Goal
“People in the IDE building waste enormous amounts of energy consciously and unconsciously. At the moment there is little being done about this wastefulness from the user side (behavior). There are many reasons for energy wasting behavior, but the reason I want to focus on is the lack of energy culture at IDE. I want to activate users to better their behavior through the formation of an energy culture based on a community garden themed interaction vision. I want people to discuss and comment on each other’s sustainable behavior. I want the state of energy use to become a collective concern and I want people to foster care for the energy use of the building. Tangible interaction combined with persuasive strategies will be employed to boost motivation for energy saving and behavior change.”
iii. Design vision
Coming from the desire to create a social product, I formulated an iteration vision based on a community garden setting. I defined three main factors contributing to the “community garden effect” in order to investigate them separately in my design iterations. This results in the following equation:
Community garden = Care + Social skills + Education
Care — Care is about feeling responsible towards a thing, like when nurturing a plant to full grown state in a garden. Caring is a completely voluntary action, but its outcome is completely dependent on the amount of time you are willing to invest.
Social dynamics — Participating in community gardening is not a solo activity. Spaces are shared, there is communication with neighbors and exchange of information, collaboration between people and even play. Social interaction is one of the biggest motivations to partake in such an activity
Education — The community garden teaches its users about the fundamentals of growth and life, it uncovers a process that is mostly hidden in our modern society.
iv. Confirming the vision: Frederique Huygens
To get an idea of whether the defined vision was accurate an interview with Frederique Huijgens, landscape architect involved with the design of the “Zeeheldentuin” was done, This gave insights into what has been done to stimulate social activity in the community garden on the Tasmanstraat in The Hague. The “Zeeheldentuin” serves as a good example of a community garden which is informal, low boundary and open to everyone. This garden, located on a plot of land where a school burnt down over 10 years ago, serves as a connecting feature in the centrally located neighborhood. Since the garden is located in an urban part of town, with little green, it offers many a small escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
In the interview, Huijgens stressed the importance of creating a sense of belonging and ownership for people to want to participate in an activity that is intended to be
as longterm as gardening. Garden plots were left undefined (gardeners got to build their own fences and walls), weekend crafts activities (where participants build their own furniture) are organized and a lot of input is asked for the design of the remaining communal parts of the garden. Gardeners are generally interested in gardening and healthy living, but there are also people that simply like being outside in the weekends when its sunny (Huijgens, 2015).
The interview with Huijgens was a good confirmation of my chosen interaction vision since it became very apparent talking to her that gardening is an activity that ties in
very nicely with the act of sustainability. Gardeners in the Zeeheldentuin partake in gardening because it gives them gratification, they are not farmers looking to produce large amounts of food… the act of growing simply gives them pleasure. They come to the garden for social contact, the pleasure of being outside, to learn about gardening and to produce something. The garden is a reflection of a persons personality and truly his own spot. Achieving an intrinsic motivation of this sort would be very fitting to the overall goal of this thesis.
As a part of carrying out the VIP and SID methods I explored the context of my design assignment. Firstly an examination of existing solutions was done. Persuasive solutions for improving energy saving behavior in and out of the home were looked at, in order to get a good view of what is already being done and what solutions are effective in reinforcing good energy behavior.
Following this market analysis, I investigated a potential user group. By drawing up personas I explored the needs, wants and personalities of people that could potentially end up using my design.
I looked at the physical context of the design problem (the main hall of IDE). In order to design a solution most fitting for this environment, it was investigated what factors are at play when using a product in this context. This investigation covers a range of topics from social implications to spacial qualities to functional requirements to take into account when designing a solution for IDE. A critical analysis of the current design is also included in this section.
GreenLite
In 2008, Dartmouth college experimented with a series of low-energy interactive screens that were placed in dormitories around campus. These screens were programmed to show an animation of a polar bear designed by Sonia Lei for the purpose. The state of the polar bear was linked to energy use in each dormitory, going from happy and safe when energy consumption was low to drowning and sad (effects of global warming) when consumption increased. Additionally, each display was able to give a breakdown of personal energy use upon request. “The Green Lite team hoped to learn how students would modify their energy usage if they could see its real-time effect, and whether that knowledge would encourage them to incorporate simple energy-saving strategies into their day-to-day routines.” According to a user study performed, the screen was responsible for a reduction of 10-11% in overall energy use and a new habit adoption of 48%. (Tice et al., 2008)
The Kukui cup
A community-based serious games to support sustained change in sustainability- related behaviors. The project was originally focused on “residence hall energy challenges” but is expanding to accommodate different contexts of use (schools, offices and neighborhoods). The kukui cup uses a web interface to challenge participants to engage in off-line activities like workshops and excursions but also on-line activities such as watching video and reading articles. Additionally, the kukui cup can be linked to smart meters or other data logging equipment to provide feedback on energy use. The aim of the product is to increase energy literacy, provide insights about the impact of certain behaviors, build community through awareness of local initiatives and create commitment. “The Kukui Cup is designed to make the real and on-line world activities complementary and synergistic.” (The Kukui Cup Project, 2015)
Opower energy report
Opower energy reports are energy reports that employ persuasive or influential strategies to convince recipients to lower their energy use. Based on techniques developed by the company’s chief scientist Robert Cialdini, the reports make use of “targeted tips”, comparison to neighbors and smiley icons to motivate customers to
conform to neighborhood energy use standards. Energy reports are issued on a wide range of media such as text messages, in home screens, letters and emails and are said to lead to an average steady savings rate of 1.5-2.5%. (Opower, 2015)
Hyko is another example of a polar bear themed energy use display. Aimed at teaching children about their energy use in a playful way. The plastic, polar bear shaped lamp
is able to change colors , shifting from white to blue to red indicating sadness as consumption increases. A simple smart sensor that can be attached to any energy meter transmits data to the bear wirelessly. Hyko comes with an accompanying storybook/ application. Hyko uses empathic features to motivate energy savings (Hyko’s Adventure, 2015)
Hyko
Equarium
The E-quarium is an interactive display developed by Suslab that is based on the metaphor of an aquarium. It is a reflective animated display that can be used in combination with the power monitoring plugs designed especially for this application to communicate energy objectives. The environment of the aquarium is affected by energy consumption, Co2 and temperature data streams showing more or less plants, bubbles and fish accordingly. The E-quarium was developed for household use, but can be used equally well in office spaces (Augusto, 2013).
IDEO LEED
The LEED plaque developed by IDEO displays the current state of a building in relation to environmental efforts. The centrally placed display shows real time measurements of resources in the form of bar graphs and enables building users to interact by adding data and analyzing details. It is a public declaration of the current state of a building, as they quite elegantly describe the product (IDEO, 2014).
Smart city displays
The smart city movement in Charlotte (USA) installed a total of 60 interactive kiosks in large office buildings around the city. Large touch screen interfaces showing real time data on energy use were intended to bring occupants up to date on the current state of the buildings. Reaching around 65,000 employees, the program was projected to generate a crazy 5.3 million dollars in savings. “The program has already resulted in an 8.4 percent drop in energy use, nearly halfway to the Queen City’s goal of a 20 percent reduction by next year.” (Peek, 2015)
iii. Contextmapping: Users/Persona
Personas are ‘fictitious, specific, concrete representations of target users’ (Pruitt et al., 2010)I constructed a full spectrum of users with extreme, neutral and slightly biased opinions concerning sustainability and wrote small descriptions of their personalities (very similar to how the DEFRA framework, mentioned earlier, creates user segments). Each created character was named and profiled according to an 8 point system and narrative.
What became clear from this exercise is users with a slight positive bias or neutral attitude are most probably the easiest to targets for behavior alteration. Users at the extremes of the spectrum (certainly the negative end) can react very negatively to certain stimuli and be completely discouraged from partaking at all. By convincing the negatively inclined types the largest spread can be achieved. It must be noted that we shouldn’t scare these users. Overselling sustainability can have adverse effects on the experience of certain users. “Connecting energy-efficient products to environmental concerns can negatively affect the demand for these products.” (Chiller, 2013)
iv. Location
The installation I am designing is intended for use in the entrance hall of the faculty, this is the main entry point for students and employees into the building. The entrance has a revolving door that leads into a very large space with a high ceiling. Two lecture halls enclose the space from the side and a large glass outer wall I located on the door side. A bridge spans from one side of the faculty to the other connecting the two lecture halls. The location has constant traffic throughout the day, but will have the highest frequencies early in the morning around 9:00 and later in the day around 17:00 when people are arriving or leaving. It is a high light environment and needs little illumination.
The entrance hall is, next to a passageway, also a working environment for employees of Waltman and Servicepunt (these people can also be considered as partial stakeholders in the project, as the design will influence their daily space). At the moment there are multiple touch-screens and expo objects present in the entrance hall, and from time
to time there will be exhibitions of work placed here. There is a single mounting point for hanging objects from a steel cable. The space poses a number of challenges and limitations that have to be taken into consideration when designing.
v. Current design
While the current design is only conceptual and the prototype had already been dismantled prior to starting the project, I still attempted to make a good analysis of the current design proposed by Doolaard in her thesis. The conceptual images combined with the results from her user test formed a decent mental image with which to perform an analysis. Following Paul Hekkert’s VIP warm bath booklet (Hekkert et al., 2006), observations and associations were noted and used to draw conclusions about the good and the bad of the design.
vi. Conclusions contextmapping
A good number of conclusions can be drawn from the exploration of the context.
Existing solutions
When looking at existing products offered on the market today, a very clear pattern emerges in that the largest part of products offered are either screen based, or completely digital. There is a complete lack of totally tangible non screen based interaction. A large reason for this is the text and information heaviness of the subject of sustainability (it is generally quite hard to grasp). Solutions like the Hyko polar bear try to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world, but still require an Ipad application to reinforce specific behaviors and become educative. The tangible solutions often don’t go any further than alerting a user that something is happening, but not what specifically is happening.
Personas
Writing personas sensitizes a designer to the differences in attitude of potential users. What became especially apparent from this exercise is that there is a group of people that react very negatively to sustainability issues that have to be taken into account when designing. Designing specifically for this group will, most probably, allow for the biggest spread in effectiveness.
Physical location
The physical location is quite a crowded space that is both overpopulated by people
and objects of varying functions. It is most probably wise to design a solution that is not physically obtrusive, hanging it from the ceiling like the Lampan92. The design should not be too light or sound dependent as this conflicts with the properties of the space, and it would be advisable to take advantage of the high traffic intensity moments in a day. The installation should focus on quick interactions as people are constantly moving through the space either towards or from the exit.
Current design
A number of conclusions can be drawn from the analysis of the current design. Firstly, the installation consists of a number of different elements (a projector, a screen, a lamp and a promotional campaign), a lack of integration of features gives the product a very disconnected feel. Some elements might even not be noticed. The object creates a very obtrusive activity (playing of a game involving physical input) in a high traffic area.
The product is very dependent on large amounts of text to communicate purpose and content and it is highly dependent on light as a communication tool, this can become somewhat problematic in the high light environment it will be placed in.
The interaction with the installation is intended to be playful and social but only marginally so. In fact, the social element might only take place sporadically. Aesthetics of game elements are very basic and businesslike and the general aesthetics of the installation have little connection to sustainability. The interaction is voluntary and can easily be ignored.
After building a substantial understanding of background and context and now having a clear vision of intended interaction qualities it was time to start generating ideas
on how to tackle my design challenge. The ideation phase takes observations from
the prior phase and combines them into first concepts through strategic grouping of opportunities. Resulting concepts are generally sketchy and require refinement through further development in the rest of the process.
ii. Process
Focus points were defined on the basis of research findings and context exploration and a a number of “how might we” brainstorm exercises were done to generate solutions for each (this exercise is known from the IDEO design method toolkit for example). Topics for these included: spacial qualities, interaction types and communication methods. Once done, generated ideas were transferred to Post-it notes and a grouping exercise was done to generate clusters of fitting ideas.
Five clusters represented the strongest combinations of solutions. Each of these was further explored by quick concept sketching and narrative writing. Finally, all concepts were evaluated using a weighted evaluation matrix .Being torn between two concepts i decided to detail both further. The Process of concepting was deliberately kept very quick and shallow in order to leave room for development and adjustment during iteration.
A large table filled with many sockets or “mounds” that users can insert”seed” modules into. These “seed” modules grow or shrink depending on the improvement of energy use in the IDE Building. Growth takes place over a number of days, giving users the chance to check progress, discuss with peers on ways to improve and show off their intermediary results.
iv. Concept 2
A hanging installation with plantlike lamps suspended from retractable cables. These plants climb and bloom as energy use behavior at IDE is bettered. Again, growth is dynamic over a period of time showing an overview of the energy use of various people.
v. Conclusion ideation
Final evaluation of the two generated concepts resulted in the choice of the hanging garden concept. This concept showed spacial qualities that were most connected to the intended environment of use, it showed more potential for social engagement of users, tangible interactions and was generally found to use a more interesting form of data feedback.
The concept is heavily inspired by designs such as the Shylight developed by studio drift for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which is mesmerizing in its own right (See fig.53).
As mentioned, the choice for this concept served as a starting point for exploration and was left completely open to alteration throughout the process. From here on exploration and user testing was initiated to define specific features of the design and allow for further implementation of the design vision generated.
As decided in the methodology and approach section, the first iteration of design is based on investigating whether it is possible to create an intrinsic motivation for energy saving behavior through care.
Care is the action of keeping something in good condition, health or safety (Merriam Webster “Care”, 2015). It is an action that is especially applicable to objects or people
we are attached to. So, is it possible to use designed features to stimulate this feeling
of attachment and thus care? And will this lead to increased motivation for performing energy saving behavior? By designing a prototype that exaggerates features of personality, personalization and nostalgia as mentioned in research on product attachment by Mugge et al. I want to investigate whether it is possible to make users care for their energy consumption via their love for an object.
Guiding research questions in this iteration were:
• Can I stimulate a feeling of care through designed product features? • Is care a longterm motivator for behavior change?
• Does care for an object lead to change in behavior?
ii. Concept
In order to answer my research questions and test hypotheses concerning the creation of caring feelings, a prototype was built and a test method conceived. Extra focus was placed on the following features when designing the following:
Anthropomorphism: Giving the product emotion and personality through human features.
Aesthetics: Visual qualities of a product.
Tactile properties: Feel-able product properties through use of materials, shape or textures.
Personalization / naming: Providing users with the option to make the product his/her own.
Product behavior: How the product acts or behaves in different situations. Metaphorical association: Using visual metaphors to communicate intended use
The hanging garden concept generated in the ideation phase was taken and adjusted in order to fit the testing goals of this iteration. The built prototype for this first test is a single lamp that monitors overall energy use of a space. The lamp symbolizes a small wishing lantern that is fueled by sustainable behavior: When energy is being saved, it shines and climbs upwards. When energy is wasted however, he fades and “bobs” off course. In essence, a scaled down and more detailed variation of the original concept.
Users “adopt” the module, and indicate a desired energy saving goal that they will try to achieve for the related space (save by light, temperature or appliances). After selection, the lamp becomes reactive to the chosen energy stream and visualizes the amount of energy the user has saved by vertical movement.
iii. Prototype
Housed in a black wooden casing, a hand sized light module was suspended from a pulley by a string. The module has an archetype lantern shape (a wide base with upwards taper,much like a lampshade) but with soft rounded edges for more friendly appearance.
The module consists of two shells, a black lower shell and a transparent top shell. The top shell was made transparent to allow passing of light from the contained LEDs, the bottom black to hide contained electronics. The top shell is decorated with a smiling face and has the name “Bobby” written on it.
The bottom of the module carries a silver rotary knob, this is the selection interface that was chosen after careful consideration. The knob allows users to indicate a saving goal. When turned, the LED in the module changes color accordingly to indicate a selection.
Also contained in the lower shell is a small weighted servo that allows the module to move small distances horizontally. The construction was 3D printed for the most part in colored PLA, which had some effect on the tactile properties of the prototype in terms of rough texture which was not intended.
Because the experiment focuses mainly on designed features, there was no need to build a fully functional energy monitoring system. A “Wizard of Oz” setup was conceived where the height variance of the module was regulated manually according to a predetermined time schedule. The programming was very basic and was only used to allow LED color switching according to the rotary knob position and servo movement. This did not make a difference in terms of experiencing the prototype as intended… And made the programming a relatively quick ordeal.
Pilot testing
A pilot test was planned, taking place over a period of four days in the IDStudioLab. Two fellow graduation students were recruited to aid in evaluating my user test method. Both recruits were female, both 24 years old, and both master students. Both subjects indicated that they were aware energy users.
iv. Method
The user test was done in three phases: 1)an introduction 2)a period of use and observation and 3)a concluding interview.
The introduction required the test subjects to read an introductory narrative. This narrative explained the context of the project and the goals. Also the text explained the function of the prototype and its workings including the intended saving goals.
After being sensitized, users were given two tasks: 1)The setting of a preferred energy saving goal on the module and 2)the completion of this set goal using the prototype as guidance. This meant saving a total of 1% on total energy consumption of the IDStudiolab by either switching off lights, appliances or HVAC equipment. The participants carried out tasks over a two day period, during which their actions were observed and noted.
As mentioned, prototype feedback was given manually according to a time schedule.
In hourly intervals the module was hoisted up towards its next intended point. During high energy consumption the prototype attracted attention by moving around every 30 seconds, During low energy consumption the prototype was made to remain steady and calm.
To conclude the pilot study, participants were interviewed in an informal setting about their experiences in dealing with the prototype and the degree to which they had “cared” for it. Questions were grouped into different categories and sessions were recorded and transcribed for easier analysis of data.
. Key findings test 1
By picking a number of relevant quotes from each interview, an overview was made of gained insights. Snippets were cut out and clustered, Final conclusions emerged from these, and an overall list of insights was made.
Care
Pilot testing helped me refine my method of investigation, but obviously also generated some valid data. First and foremost the result gave insights into whether the feeling of care was generated by the different design elements I had exaggerated. This was for the largest part not the case. Both respondents expressed that they found the created character “bobby” cute, but that this had little or no effect on their energy saving behavior. Participants explained that the designed a prototype produced only a short feeling of recognition/identification/small amount of response when introduced to it the first time. Participants did note however allowing user personalization or configuration of a personal character would most probably lead to an increase in caring feelings. This is very much in line with the existing product attachment theories.
Testing an energy saving prototype
Goals
The energy saving goals proposed in the experiment were experienced as extreme or hard. Asking participants to save energy for an entire group of people came across as overly arduous and a big responsibility. Instead, manageable, low effort goals were preferred by participants.
Data use
The choice for using real time data requires serious re-evaluation as a consequence
of the test. Real time data collection is a technology heavy solution that is sensor dependent. Specifying exact use per participant will be very complex. In addition, it became clear that the choice for real time data implies that users expect fast feedback. Participants would switch off lights during the test and expect to see an immediate reaction in the prototype.
Curiosity
The absence of clearly explained tangible interactions, and the slow reaction speed did trigger curiosity in people not involved in testing. This sparked some conversation with the participants and generally amongst people.
Design
Participants commented on the lack of link between the prototype and energy, suggesting that using more relevant aesthetics could make this clearer. Metaphors employed were not clear in general, because participants weren’t familiar with “wishing lanterns” in the first place. A lack of progress clarity was identified as an issue, way-point markers and a clear finishing point could improve this.
Testing
The test itself was unnecessarily long. The intention of this test was to be fully
experiential, but speeding up the process would have made little or no difference for
the quality of data collected. The informal interview style gathered less structured data then desired, making analysis hard. A more comparative approach could have led to more precise results.
Insights from the previous test were converted into incremental improvements in the design of the prototype so that testing generation of care and attachment could be
made more effective. New modules were made with more focus on user-customizable features. The electronics that were housed in the original prototype were removed and replaced with a customizable paper insert, a much simpler means to allow customization. A goal marker was added to the prototype to make progress clearer and achievement of the final goal more pronounced. Multiple modules were made to be able to perform more user test simultaneously.
vi. Final user test approach
The final user test was designed using a completely different approach as compared to the pilot study. Instead of asking users to perform tasks over a lengthy period of time, the experiment took on a shorter timescale. The first phase of testing remains unchanged: participants would be briefed about the project in a similar fashion as during the pilot test, covering the project context and product functions. Following this, a control experiment would be performed in which users would be asked to assemble (place the LED inside) a light module with no color and neutral features. A short interview was then conducted to evaluate the degree of attachment generated in the exercise using scales rating specific features.
A second, similar, exercise is done with the redesign of the light module. The user is asked to draw a character on the supplied paper template and indicate a saving goal they wish to pursue (these can be chosen from a list supplied). Using markers the user can then add custom features to the character. Following the personalization of the module it must be armed in the same way the neutral module was by placing the LED inside. Again, a short interview is conducted to test attachment level and some general questions are asked.
vii. Key findings test 2
Setup
The setup for the second experiment was much sounder than the first. It guaranteed quantified, precise results and was well designed to test exact features that are capable of stimulating care.
Execution
It was decided together with my supervisory team that executing the test was unnecessary. Findings from the first test had already produced sufficient insights on which to base research questions for a second iteration. Testing a second time would not have guaranteed a better outcome. Quantified results, while generally more conclusive, are not always more insightful than qualitative results. Prototyping the incremental improvements was seen as a useful design exercise.
Cycle conclusion
It was realized that gained insights should mark the endpoint of an iteration and not my iterated designs. Sub iterating endlessly is simply time consuming and unfruitful. Spending more time and effort on thinking of experiments with fitting research questions will make goals clearer for next iterations.
viii. Personal reflection iteration 1
This iteration I learned how to go from theory and strategy definition to making a first design, although it was not easy. I found it challenging to create a concept that was of a realistic scale and complexity for testing and building. Because of this, I completely overshot my goal of exploring simple interactions a number of times.
The result of this was that this iteration featured a very complex prototype and a method that wasn’t completely fit to investigating what I intended to investigate (namely: attachment and care). However, I do believe that this iteration gave me a lot of insight and direction for continuation of my research by design. I now realize that using lo-fi prototypes to test initial hunches is much less of a time and energy waster as compared to creating overly complex prototype designs. This project is about finding a trigger for behavior change not about creating a beautiful prototype alone.
Additionally, I realized that, while attachment and care can be a very important focus later in the project, it makes little to no sense to take it as a starting point. You need a chassis before you can start designing the headlights of a car! Similarly, this project should have a strong base before attempting to forge a longterm relationship with the user through attachment.
As a result of these discoveries, i decided to focus the following iteration on creating social dynamics and sharing of information. Exploring the target group and determining how to engage them in the first place.
The second design iteration featured a shift in focus as compared to the first. In this cycle it was investigated how social motivation of users influences their behavior with respect to energy saving. Social groups are quite diverse and there are countless ways people can interact with each-other. Building on concepts and findings from the prior iteration I decided to do a number of investigations to define what social groups I wanted to target and to see how I could leverage this to create motivation for long term interaction with my design.
Guiding research questions in this iteration were:
• How can we stimulate social dynamics?
• Between who do I intend to stimulate social dynamics?
• How do I keep users engaged over a longer period of time? • How, specifically, do I make energy use a topic of discussion?
The cycle was kicked off with two investigations that were needed to further define the scope of the project.
ii. Location based interaction
First iteration testing was decoupled from the intended location of use (the main hall of IDE) and while the pantry in IDStudioLab functions as a similar social hub where people pass by occasionally, the two are not very comparable in size, traffic or environmental properties. Directly placing designs from iteration one in the required context of use made very clear that designed interactions would not be fitting and could still be experienced as obstructive, a drawback of the original design.
I realized that design had an excessive focus on tangible input and output, requiring the user to touch or manipulate objects in order to get a response. Horn et al. point out that tangible interaction for educative purposes is not always the ideal strategy. Instead, they show how hybrid systems of graphical interface elements and tangible interaction can lead to a much more effective design.(Horn et al. ,2011)
I decided to split my design up into two parts: an input mechanism in the form of a phone based application and a tangible feedback element in the form of the installation.
This split had a number of positive implications for data collection (which could now be personal and subjective) and communication possibilities which were now plentiful. This all leads back to BJ Fogg’s functional triad which shows separation of approaches in a similar way. The application functions as a “social actor”, encouraging behavior change through relationship formation. In turn, the installation takes on the role of a “medium”, providing experiences. (Fogg, 2003)
iii. 8 week period behavior change.
Research shows that changing habits is something that does not happen instantaneously. New habit formation takes time and effort. In the 50’s plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz discovered that after performing an operation, patients took an average of 21 days to get used to new or removed features. He stated that “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for
an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” This was published in his book “psycho-cybernetics” and went on to become the standard in psychology.
However, other research suggests that the period needed for habit formation is
much longer. Philippa Lally ran a study on the topic for the European Journal of Social Psychology that had a totally different outcome. Her research suggested that an average of 66 days is needed for new habit formation. (Clear, 2015)
This led me to re evaluation of the period in which I want to engage users. Coincidentally, the 66 day period fits very well into how education is structured at IDE. A full quarter of education takes a total of 10 weeks, ample time to form a new habit.
iv. Concept changes for iteration 2
I continued with the basic concept of using a collection of climbing lights to provide feedback concerning an energy saving goal. However, after taking into account all key findings from last iteration, placing the concept in the right location and examining the period of use, there were some significant alterations made.
For iteration two the concept consisted of a group of lights that are “adoptable” just like in the first iteration, however, this time the feedback is no longer responsive to actual usage data. Instead, I opted for subjective data input in this iteration, giving users the chance to self report energy saving behavior via a phone application. This application sends users a daily energy saving challenge which they are expected to complete and report. Using the entered data, the installation can then create visual feedback of the amount of effort users are putting into saving energy.
v. Experiment: specifying target group
A first experiment was conducted with the main goal of exploring and specifying
my target group. Social interactions happen on many different levels and it seemed appropriate to explore which social configuration would be best to use in the case of my project. Is it best to stimulate social interactions between strangers, existing groups, representatives, or are there other configurations that stimulate and facilitate discussion and motivation?
Participants
A total of 10 students participated in the exercise taking about half an hour per session. Participants were all students at TU Delft, mostly masters students. Some bachelor students were also included in the sample. Background of the students varied from Civil engineering to Computer science to IDE students, with the largest portion being IDE. All students were familiar with the IDE and how education is structured there.
Method
Five storyboards were created that depicted the use of the designed installation over
an eight week period of time. The storyboards were made to be very similar with slight nuances in how people interacted with it. The differences were mainly found in group composition. Solo, duo, project team or studio, representative and category participation was the main variable.
Participants were asked to read each storyboard, accompanied by a short narrative. When done reading, participants were asked to rank each scenario from least motivating to most motivating. Users were asked to explain their choices. Participants were instructed explicitly to consider social motivation in their choice. Interviews were recorded on video for later analysis.
vi. Key findings test 3
Questionnaire result
From this short experiment a number of interesting conclusions can be drawn. Firstly, a clear preference emerged for participation in existing teams or groups. This option was consistently ranked highest. Participants indicated that using project teams or existing social groups made intra-personal communication easy and lowered the boundary for participation.
Participants ranked categorization as a second best option. Most participants pointed out that the concept was interesting because of the continuity of the activity and the possibility of tailoring it to own preference. However, it was pointed out that the effect of peer-evaluation and social proofing might lead to lower participation or a concentration of users in a single category.
Using a representative followed as a third best contender, but because of the risk of it becoming a popularity game, most users disliked this option. Solo and duo participation did not find support in this experiment, however there were some individualists that enjoyed working towards a personal goal and winning the game. These last two options did not seem to generate any social stimulus and had a risk of not leading to any culture formation or discussion on the topic of energy consumption.
IDE Studio culture
IDE has a strong studio culture in the bachelor years of study. Starting in the introductory weekend, teams are formed with which the first design projects are done. Some participants pointed out that they still had a strong relationship with these teams, still spoke to each-other and forged strong friendships with these groups. Studios were selected as target groups.
Cheating sensitivity of concept
A single comment was made on the sensitivity for cheating that this system entails. Input is completely dependent on honesty of users. However because there is no monetary incentive or gain present, there is no reason to cheat. The concept is an honor based system.
vii. Investigation: extrapolating social motivation
Now a target group for encouraging socially was selected it seemed appropriate to investigate whether people would be motivated and willing to participate in an 8 week long team project with their teammates. I wanted to investigate the dynamics you would encounter over a longer period of time and whether or not motivation would persist and what influences this motivation.
Participants
9 participants were recruited to partake in this exercise, all students at TU Delft but for the largest part IDE students. Sessions took half an hour, 15 minutes of introduction and 15 minutes of creative time.
Method
Participants were first sensitized to the project context, this was done by collectively reading through the winning storyboard/narrative combination from the target group selection test. Once complete, users were asked to walk through the paper application. This paper prototype demonstrated a simple sign up action, followed by the receiving and completing of an energy saving challenge. A request was made to think aloud during the process.
When finished with the walk-through procedure, participants were asked to imagine they were engaged in using the installation and requested they extrapolate their behavior over a period of eight weeks. Each participant received a set of axes depicting high to low motivation on a time scale on which they were asked to draw a graph of their motivation level. Once complete, participants were asked to add envisioned social interactions with group mates to the graph. Sessions were recorded on video for analysis.
viii. Key findings test 4
Data relevance
The graphs produced in this exercise are not accurate representations of motivation, but is purely an imaginative exercise. However, the results did point out a number of interesting points of attention that will be incorporated into design.
Results
The results obtained from this exercise were encouraging, 77.7% of participants indicated an interest in use of the concept over an extended period of time. Participants generally indicated a high level of motivation to begin with, sustained overall short period of time while exploring new features and possibilities of the system. After this, motivation generally fluctuated in relation to workload. A final surge was almost always present. Noticing of the physical installation and observing current standings played a big part in this.
Social motivators & variation
Social activity was indicated to be a strong motivator. Growing team size especially caused a motivation boost. Some participants indicated a decrease in motivation due to lack of stimulus. Expecting that all challenges received would be similar text-based challenges, participants indicated that more variation would be more encouraging (adding photos, comments, likes etc.).
ix. Experiential user test
An experiential user test was done to further verify findings from experiments done in this iteration. While both experiments produced valid results, they were both based on imaginative situations.
A test was devised to investigate whether I could keep users interested and motivated to participate in the activity of receiving daily messages containing challenges. I wanted to check whether they would participate at all, and how group dynamics influenced this. Also, I was interested to see if I could stimulate discussions about sustainability among group members.
Participants
I recruited four PO4 project teams at IDE to participate in the final experiment of the iteration. In total 6/20 participants joined on their own initiative. All students were bachelor students at IDE, all from the Netherlands.
Method
After recruiting teams, participants received a short introduction to the project and explanation of the installation. Participants were then sent emails asking them to confirm their participation, this was left optional to resemble the open nature of the designed activity. A Google form was filled out to record name, email and phone number and team color. A small exercise to encourage teamwork was done as participants were told choosing a color unanimously would change the color of their feedback page.
Once completely registered, participants were sent daily text messages over the period of a week. These messages contained small, easily accomplishable tasks about saving energy. Each morning the first message would be sent at 9:30 and a reminder at 16:30. The messages contained a web link to a feedback form where accomplishments could be self reported. Once completed, participants were able to check progress and team scores on an overview website . After a week of participation an informal interview was organized with a number of participants.
By using a combination of Whatsapp messages , Google forms, and HTML programming and Photoshop, I was able to “Wizard of Oz” an experience that was very close to the way I wanted my application to work
x. Key findings test 5
After a week of observing interaction with my prototype , the interview was carried out. I made an appointment with four of my most active participants and asked them about their experiences.
Discussion through surprise
Of-course, the most exciting result that comes forth from this test was the fact that
I was able to spark a group discussion on a sustainability related topic. Test subjects reported that messages containing surprising facts like “plugged in power adapters still consume energy when not charging” would lead to questioning of the truthfulness of the statement and discussion about the topic.
Absence and schedule
In general most challenges were carried out by active participants, especially on days that they were present in the IDE building. When not at IDE challenges were often neglected. Challenges were considered manageable and easy, they cost little time to complete, Users completed them instantly because they cost little or no energy to do. Some participant reported being too busy studying to complete certain challenges.
Stimulation
One user noted that messages were too bland and needed more visual information to appeal to him. A second user disliked the “challenge” formulation, which he found made too obvious that altruistic behavior was being motivated by something external. Users found that the challenges became somewhat repetitive and boring after some time. More variety in games or activities was proposed. Users indicated that having a form of physical feedback would strengthen competitiveness and presence of the concept.
Participation
Participation was an issue during the test. Team captains reported asking their team members to join in, but got little or no reaction. Reminders asking users to sign up more team members in return for point multipliers were not effective, nor did team captains continue to harass teammates to join. Participants were reluctant to force participation on other team members. First day joiners were the only joiners in this experiment.
Participants weren’t very open to the idea of required participation through a course or institution, but did note that this might increase the number of participants to start with. Organizing a “sustainability week” was also suggested to increase number of participants. The result of low participation was that there was no real sense of competition.
xi. Personal reflection iteration 2
Doing a second iteration was a very rewarding, it provided a lot of very valuable insights for the design of my interactive installation. I was able to leave complex prototyping behind me this time around, and used basic, low effort prototypes and questionnaires instead to find answers to my predefined research questions. Even the final digital prototype, which was slightly more complex, was made in a relatively speedy fashion, leaving much more time for other activities surrounding the user tests such as data analysis and evaluation.
The second iteration provided a degree of clarity that I hadn’t had up until now. After doing a number of tests i now had a global idea of what I was going to be making, and who I was making it for specifically, and could start focusing on more specific design details instead of dealing with fuzzy conceptual issues. This made communication with test participants and other people involved much easier, and cleared up a lot of questions.
I was quite surprised at the connection that was created between the installation and IDE building culture and education. Having this very specific user and location scope
will contribute to a highly tailored product in the end, but might have concequences for application in other contexts than IDE. Overall, the iteration left me hungry for more, as I started moving slowly into realizing a working product.
The overall goal of prototyping and testing in the third iteration was to build a functional prototype and test this prototype in a real community setting. This iteration was carried out with the intention of bringing the digital and physical concepts generated in prior cycles closer together, investigating technology and investigating people’s reaction to
a complete system. Testing in the last cycle did not manage to capture the dynamics of having multiple groups of participants engaged, so this was also made a goal.
Research questions included:
• How is the prototype going to work?
• How can we bring the physical and digital parts closer together?
• How can we enthuse users to participate?
• How will the dynamics of multiple groups
• What usability issues and concerns are there in the current design ?
ii. Concept alterations
The concept at this point consists of a group of 24 light modules, linked to physical locations (studios) within the IDE building. The light modules vary in height or “grow” according to the amount of interactions users have with a dedicated application on their phone. Users can join their studio in the energy saving effort at any time by registering themselves via the application. This application sends out a daily, surprising eco-related brainteaser that needs to be rated by the user in order to score progress points. The installation is aimed at bachelor students who want to explore responsible energy use in the building in a playful manner.
iii. Prototyping
This iteration was very much a “nut-cracking phase” as one would put it in IDStudioLab terminology. A fair amount of time was invested in investigating how to make the prototype work on a technical level selecting electronics, wiring, writing code and tinkering with the embodiment. It provided a good base to start thinking about construction and produce-ability in mass using rapid prototyping for the eventual final design.
A modular approach was taken in building the prototype. This was done to make the build manageable and cost efficient, but also because it allows for further expansion if needed. I set out to build three interactive, moving, Internet connected lamp modules to test in combination with a simple HTML input app. The choice for using the internet as a means to communicate data, made remote access across a large terrain possible. The choice for three modules was made because this was the minimum number I would need to create a competition between groups of people and make the visualization of progress interesting simultaneously.
Embodiment
The outer shell of the lamps was built out of pre cut layers of MDF, stacked and glued to form a hollow circular tube. The top quarter of the tube provides space for electronics while the rest of the tube functions as a “docking station” for the actual light module which is suspended from a stepper motor fixed inside. The light module can be slid in and out of the larger MDF housing. 3D printed brackets were made to fasten the stepper motors. A 3 wire cable hoists the light module up and down and provides power to the Neopixel LED ring inside. A white 3D printed light diffusing cover was glued to the bottom of the module to act as a light guide.
Electronics
The prototype is based on a development board created by a company called Particle Core. The Core is a WiFi enabled microprocessor can be addressed via the Particle cloud. The board provided a great platform to get my prototype working and experiential. Through simple programming in HTML, I was able to create simple on-line input interfaces accessible from your mobile phone. Only one chip was used for the three lights made, as more were not available. The core made addressing of Neopixels and stepper motors possible over the internet.
To drive the steppers a driver was needed in the form of the Adafruit BigEasy driver. During the wiring I had many arguments with less sophisticated stepper drivers, burning out a total of 4 a9488 chips. The main reason for this was the lack of capacitors used. The Adafruit solved this with integrated capacitors to protect from voltage peaks. Drivers were set to full stepping mode to increase power and speed.
These drivers functioned spotlessly in combination with the used NEMA17 steppers, which are readily available and cheap due to their application in 3d printing. The price vs. torque ratio is quite good for these steppers, they are relatively small, and they seemed like an ideal fit for the prototype.
I modified an ATX power supply to power the prototype. This provided me with a cheap 5 and 12V source. However, Interference in the 5v rail caused ridiculous amounts of noise. A separate 5v power supply was added later to work around this annoyance.
On-line platform
A particle core allows you to send simple API requests via the cloud to activate functions on the board. Because of this I was also able to build simple HTML pages for input. A very simple page with a logo a text box and some radio buttons was made to resemble the self reporting form I had used in the previous iteration. Each radio button triggered a separate action on the Core, flashing the LEDs and moving the stepper more or less. Pages were hosted on a domain I purchased specifically for this test.
iv. The DORP concept and creative sessions
Testing was complicated, being in the middle of the summer vacation. The lack of occupants in the IDE building made it hard to recruit test subjects for evaluation of the built prototype. Instead, I decided to let go of my intended users temporarily and test my prototype at the welcome to the village festival in the context of DORP. I took my prototype in the hope I could experience how large groups of people would interact with my system and whether it worked or not.
The DORP and D-exto philosophy made the shift of context a little more acceptable. These two organizations believe that a festival is a temporary miniature society with
all of the same problems that a normal society faces. However, because of its closed nature (there is a fence surrounding it) it can serve as an ideal testing ground for product development. Everything can be tracked and made visible, from electricity streams
to food consumption to waste disposal. Festivals are multicultural and draw people from a range of different backgrounds, these crossovers can serve as an ideal base for innovation.
“If a bright idea can improve a festival, it might also make the world a better place.” (DORP, 2015)
DORP was a five day co-creation camp in which multiple parties participated ranging from students to artists to local policy makers and journalists. During DORP I held multiple creative sessions together with students from Leeuwarden, TU Delft, TU Eindhoven and participants from other backgrounds. Initially the sessions were focused on solving the problem of modifying my prototype for use in the festival context, later topics such as initiating an interaction and location based teams were discussed. I spent time after each session improving the prototype, programming and setup in preparation
v. User test WTTV
The prototype was put on display in the D-exto pavilion together with a large poster explaining its intent and workings. After being informed about the project and placed in a team, participants were instructed to carry on with their day at the festival.
The on-line interaction was adjusted a little to make it more frequent and easier. “Triggerpoints” were made carrying 3 QR codes (one for each team). Each time a sustainable action was performed, participants were instructed to scan the relevant QR code to report this to the installation. Triggerpoints were spread all over the festival grounds and attached to tactically chosen objects like bins and taps. In this way I hoped my prototype could create a visual representation of which campground was doing the most sustainable actions and was longing to see whether this motivated people to do something about the issue of sustainability. The test was supposed to last for a full two days during the festival.
vi. Key findings test 6
While the “festival as a mini society” perspective is amazing and true, I did not get the chance to use the festival as a testing-ground to its full potential.
More instant gratification
Festival-goers travel in groups and are looking for instantly gratifying activities to partake in, festivals are not gatherings where people sit around watching their phones. There is hardly any downtime at a festival. I had greatly underestimated the willingness of festival-goers to participate in a complex activity such as a user-test. Users need to be lured in with some form of quick interaction, instant response or fast gratification.
Contextual adjustment
In trying to bridge the physical and digital part of the concept I strayed quite far from what i originally wanted to achieve in terms of behavior change. Using QR trigger cards i attempted to encourage self reporting, but lost the behavior change as a result. Adjusting to the festival context became a matter of getting my installation to work in the first place, and less about changing the behavior of people.
I found that, while a festival is a public space, the energy ownership at a festival is, again, completely different to what we see at IDE. There are really very few actions one can partake in to reduce their energy impact at a festival as there are simply no controls available whatsoever to users. Only small actions such as throwing away plastic cups and cigarettes or even not showering are among behaviors I could target. Creating a location based division of participants was not effective at all in this context, as most users camped in the same location or didn’t know which campground was which.
Technical issues
Unfortunately a technical problem also disrupted my testing. The WiFi connection at
the festival was unstable, meaning the prototype was non functional during most of the festival hours. Looking at an alternative or self supporting connection would be advisable for next prototypes. The building of the prototype itself the most valuable in terms of insights, this helped point out weak points in the mechanical and electronics design (tangled cables, badly working light guides, stepper motor functioning were among encountered problems)
vii. Redesigning the front end
A second redesign made its way into this iteration. Many shortcomings of the prototype were uncovered during the WTTV relating to the hardware and construction of the build, but additionally I realized that the software side had simply not been designed. It was decided to do a major overhaul of the front end of the application to do a more complete user test in a more controlled environment. Unfortunately my chances of getting a “community dynamics” test done were virtually nonexistent at this point (still being in the middle of summer recess), so the test focus was adopted to save this iteration. I got rid
of all gimmicks that had been added to make the prototype more festival relevant, like the QR code trigger-points, and designed according to findings from iteration 2 testing instead. The result was a paper prototype of an application
Concept alterations
Instead of having just a simple HTML form, the application side of the concept was elaborated upon. A passive, push notification based application was thought up to replace the overly simple web based form submission page. After a user downloads
the app and registers, the application lets each studio create and edit a character. This character becomes the studio mascot, who participants will help to reach his/her energy saving goals over an 8 week period. Helping can be done through participation in four types of “games”. The application sends out daily push notifications that alarm users of new action-ables.
As said, the application created has a much more solid base in findings from last iterations. And incorporates elements of product attachment, care, and social motivation to a much further extent. The application takes on the role of a social actor as I had intended and aims to encourage participation through creation of a bond with a character.
Below a short description of the designed games:
Find it- A treasure hunt type game where users are challenged to find QR code stickers which they scan. This game teaches students about control points and can use very location related facts.
Stir it up- A simple game in which the user is presented with an interesting fact. All the user has to do Is acknowledge it an pass it along to his/her group-mate. Once the circle is complete the game is over
Contribution- A game in which users give input in the form of pictures, sound clips or text. A theme can be imposed or a general submission requested.
Self evaluation- A tool for self evaluation of effort put into sustainable actions
viii. User test IDStudioLab
A user-test was done to test the overall concept clarity and strength, it was also in part a usability study. An overall evaluation of the concept derived from all insights so far.
Participants
9 students were recruited to participate in testing of the new app wireframe prototype in combination with a demonstration of the built prototype. All participants were TU Delft students, 5/9 were IDE students.
Method
The experiment was carried out in a neutral setting in the IDStudioLab, participants entered the room and were showed the prototype in its static behavior (LEDs breathing slowly). Once context was explained, users were prompted to use the paper prototype as if it was on their own phone, going from installing the app to completing all four games (thinking aloud as they performed tasks). When relevant, the reaction of the prototype was shown (mostly after completing games). A short, informal closing discussion concluded the experiment. Results were recorded for later analysis.

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