The objective of my Master’s of User Experience Design thesis was to create a better overall television experience. I envisioned Hive [http://davidbrahler.com/hive/], essentially a NUI Television, as a product that extends the television use, transforming the 16:9 screen to a multi- modal input screen that seamlessly integrates into the larger ecology of consumer “smart” devices.
In order to achieve this goal, the television set needed a robust platform and a well articulated user interface design that leverages Natural User Interface input-modalities: voice-command (dictation), multi-touch (gestural), and in-air (kinetic) gestures. In theory, Hive would be the focal point of the home and create a ubiquitous home computing environment.
Hive, essentially a NUI Television, is the culmination of over a year of thought, reflection, and research. Reading Mark Weiser’s seminal paper The Computer for the 21st Century in Dr. Fast’s Human Information Interaction course illuminated me to the computing possibilities we’ve yet to realize in the consumer market. Envisioning the early 90’s Xerox PARC ubiquitous computing environment with chunky silicon tabs, pads, and boards blew my mind.
Dan Saffer describes in his book Designing Devices the current and future problems industrial designers face when deciding whether or not to have a display screen. How do devices communicate with the user? How do devices speak with one another? Are screens really necessary? Rather than carelessly putting screens on a refrigerator (I’m reminded of refrigerator product line that Best Buy sold with a built in Windows XP PC), let’s begin shaping a utopian electronic environment that may make Mike Kuniavsky proud without making Donald Norman too mad. I was at the perfect point. I had been removed 2 years from using cable or satellite television, experienced a few years of using an iPhone and iPad (tab and board), and was filled with NUI thoughts after reading A Brave NUI World by Daniel Wigdor and Dennis Dixon. In order to better the total experience, a re-imagination of the set top box is needed—beyond what Steve Jobs, Apple, Boxee, Roku, Google, etc.—have attempted to do with their respective devices. The transposition of the Graphical User Interface from the desktop to the family room has garnered mixed reviews. To be frank, a lot of products just suck. I’m looking at you HBOGo for the Boxee and any app on GoogleTV.
In the Spring of 2012, I spent time conducting scholarly research and casual observations to identify the differences between work and leisure, stress points, and anything interesting that caught my eye. I wanted to first understand why through scholarly research and how through user research in order to inform design. Although the context of living and work space differ drastically, I found is that televisions are no longer the primary focus of attention in the living room. I obtained design insight by accumulating a pattern library from the various hardware competitors, Sony, Roku, TiVo, Western Digital, Google, Microsoft, and Apple and using each product for over an extended period of time—pproximately 2-3 months each.
The problem as I see it, is that there are too many products and many of them provide poor experiences. I tried to understand why through modeling current television problem space. There has been hockey stick growth the past few years to provide digital services in the television home consumer market which has been plagued with little innovation to the user interface.
The model here depict the scenario on how Hive interacts with the TV and your home environment. Theoretically, any device that can establish a connection to the Internet or utilizes Infrared can interact with Hive.
User Interview Synthesis and Pattern Activity
The images below are touch points from 7 half to one hour user interview sessions that I conducted in order to make sure that I wasn't exclusively designing for myself and perceived problems. I went through each transcript and made notes, which then lead to points being written on post-its. Post-its were then put on my make-shift home office whiteboard and grouped into (mostly) meaningful relationships. The pain points and sorting activity the led me to map each interviewees experience and helped me generate a mental model.
Mental Models and Radar Charts
I mapped each participant’s experiences on a radar chart with 5-axis: Attitude, Experience, Accessibility, Content, and Social, to help me identify each individual user experiences. In addition, I created a Mental Model mapping out features that are desired and repeatedly came up and features we can expect to get heavy use from and should highly consider implementing. The areas on the mental model include phone, cable provider, television, social, devices, features, storage, attitude, space, and limitations.
HIGH FIDELITY WIREFRAMES
The following high fidelity wireframes are the end result of a year's worth a research and a semester of iterative design.