User experience on the new light vocabulary

January 14, 2010 at 20:52 Leave a comment

Introduction on User Testing methodology: from a design perspective, when the user doesn’t understand something the process makes steps forward. Failure is part of the user experience and co-creation methods.

In the near future most of the devices that are now connected by cables will be communicating wirelessly. It will be handy not to have so many cables around, but probably it will be much harder to understand if two devices are connected and, if they are talking, what they are talking about.
My research would like to understand if it is possible to replace the physical cable with a “metaphorical” cable made of light.

These two cubes represent two devices that communicate trough a wireless connection.
1. Please pick two examples between these possible devices

We have the Device Ma and the Device Mb, when you buy a device you will be able to set your product personal colour. In this case Device Ma is mine and it is pink, Device Mb is yours and it is blue. Setting the colour is extremely easy: it will be the same procedure as calling your USB stick “John”, or setting a new ring tone on your mobile phone.We turn on both devices and we would like to connect them, but there is no cable. There is instead a Connection Area. To make a connection, you have to touch the two devices to each other in this special area.
2. Try to connect them
3. Do you think they are connected now? Why?

Now we want to transfer data from your device to mine, to start the transfer you should touch this round metal button.
4. Try to start the data transfer
5. Is the transfer happening? From which device to which one (Ma>Mb, Mb>Ma)? Why?
6. Is the transfer complete?
7. Now try to transfer data from mine to yours

We will try to disconnect the two devices while they are transferring data. To do so we hold the metal button for a few seconds.
8. Do you think the transfer was successful?

Connect your Device Mb to a Device P, a peripheral device that doesn’t have any memory storage but “exists” just because it can be connected to a device that has memory.

9. Please pick one Device P (picture)
10. Try to connect your device Mb to the Device P
11. Do you think they are connected now? Why? Why do you think they have the same colour?
12. Please walk around and tell me if they are still connected
13. Try to go there (far away) and tell me if they are still connected, if you think they are not, why?

Video scenario: the light behaviour applied to an everyday life situation.

INSIGHTS / GESTURAL INTERFACE: connect touching the two devices to each other in a special area

“I would like to be able to touch any face of the cube to establish the connection” (male, 72, retired) (male, 35, DJ)
“To connect I would like to press the 2 areas in sequence, like a button” (male, 72, retired)
“I would like to touch also my cube to allow the other one to send me the data, it will be safer” (male, 72, retired)
“I would like to enter a password to allow the other device to send me the data, it will be safer and I care about my privacy” (female, 29, doctor)
“You should find a better name for connection area, area is too generic and usually means something big. Can it be connection side?” (male, 35, DJ)


Connect/Bottom light:
“I like the fact that the lights turn on when I touch the two devices to each other, I don’t pay so much attention to the colours” (male, 27, writer)
“They are connected, it is an objected point” (female, 21, student) (female, 29, doctor) (male, 72, retired) (female, 28, restorer) (female, 52, employee) (male, 30, designer)
“When I touch the 2 sides to each other the light turn on, so when I take them apart I will expect the lights to turn off. However the connection lights have to be on because the devices are connected wirelessly and the behaviour makes sense” (male, 35, DJ)

Transferring/Top light:
“It is very clear: my device’s colour appears now on your device” (male, 72, retired) (male, 27, writer)
“It is clear, I’m pouring my content in your device and you are pouring yours in mine: you see it thanks to the colours” (male, 35, DJ)
“I think this pulsing light means: a process is happening” (male, 27, writer)
“It is transferring or it is getting ready to start transfer? I’m not sure” (male, 27, writer)
“I really like the colour coding and the fact that the top light shows the transmission and the bottom one the connection” (male, 30, designer)
“I understood that the devices were transferring data because of the pulsing light, but I haven’t noticed the light colour since I saw the other device sending to mine some stuff” (female, 52, employee)
“Maybe the Sender light pattern should be different compared to the Receiver one” (male, 30, designer)
“I understand the transfer direction because I started the process!” (female, 28, restorer)

Transfer complete/Top light:
“The transfer complete behaviour (solid light) is brief, this means everything was all right. If it was longer I would think the process was stopped” (male, 72, retired)
“If I see a solid light I suppose everything was fine, otherwise I would expect some different message. Then they turn off at the same time, this means they are in sync” (male, 35, DJ) (female, 23, student)
“The top light is solid for some time because it needs its natural time to change status and get back to an idle state. I think this is perfectly normal” (female, 52, employee)
“Is the transfer complete or it stops for some reason? I’m not sure” (male, 27, writer) (female, 28, restorer) (female, 29, doctor)
“The transfer complete behaviour should be clearer, maybe if the light was flashing fast it would be better” (male, 30, designer)
“I would like to hear a sound message that tells me that the transfer was successful” (female, 52, employee)
“Now that I see the error message I understand that the transfer process that I did before was successful” (female, 28, restorer) (female, 29, doctor)

“The signal should be longer, now it is too short” (male, 72, retired)
“This message is far too alarming; it looks like I’m burning both devices!” (male, 27, writer)
“The error message should be split, now it is too generic. If you have a connection error it should be in the bottom light, if it is a transferring error it should be displayed just by the top light” (male, 30, designer)
“The error message should be redesigned like this: generic error: both lights solid red; transmission error: top light blinking red; connection error: both lights blinking red” (male, 35, DJ)

Losing signal/ Bottom light:
“It is clear because it looks like the device is making a big effort to keep the signal” (male, 72, retired)
“The device should get back in the Connection state autonomously when the signal is available again” (female, 23, student)

“I would like the colour to be brighter; it will be easier to see the different statuses” (male, 72, retired)
“The Peripheral device is more passive, I would like its colour to be the same as the Main device but not so intense to visualise which device has the data” (male, 72, retired)
“When I look at the blue cube I think everything is working fine, when I try to understand what the pink one is saying I get more confused, I think it is because the pink colour makes me upset” (female, 28, restorer)
“I would not choose a personalised colour” (female, 29, doctor) (female, 23, student)
“I like that there is no light feedback when the two devices are not connected” (male, 27, writer)
I like the essentiality of the light behaviours, it makes my actions’ meaning more immediate to understand” (male, 27, writer)
“Lights behaviours are better compared to the first prototypes, but the cubes are too abstract: I understood the Dubmate example more easily” (female, 28, restorer)
“The cube is too abstract, I didn’t understand it was the symbol of the device” (female, 23, student)
“Your light language is consistent but I think it would be useless in my life. I think text interfaces are enough and comprehensible for me” (female, 23, student)
“The main device can exchange data, the peripheral can not: it is logic!” (female, 52, employee)
“It is very useful; I always lose all the cables!” (female, 20, student)


Entry filed under: Prototyping.

A collection of light behaviours Conclusions on the User Experience

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