I feel like there's so much that has happened in the past few weeks that I have been putting off writing a blog post because there's too much to write about. I have been quite emotional about the changes to the course and have considered multiple times deferring so that I can do the course as it was intended. Alas, here we are still enrolled and ready to try to make this semester as fun as it would have been if online uni wasn't a thing. My biggest disappointment was missing out on the exhibit - I've had multiple friends tell me how much fun this day was and I was super keen on making something really cool so that I had something to show off at this event. However, even though this isn't possible with the restrictions I still want to try to stay motivated and try to create something of a high standard, even if its only seen by my family, friends, and the cohort.
During the pause week, I tried to think of a completely new idea to present to the group but kept coming back to my idea Artificial Conscience. I was really excited about making this project but gave it up when I was put in the domain "Change through discomfort". I also didn’t want to force my idea onto any other members of the group so I wanted to explore all other alternatives before I pushed my idea. I started to think more about the concept and realised that with a few changes it could definitely fit under this domain. This is how "Energy Saving Emily" was created. I had to take away the emotional aspect of connecting with Artificial Conscience and focus more on how to discomfort the user into saving electricity. As a team, we decided that the fun and playful version of discomfort is annoyance. From this, we thought of all the things that annoy us and completed some initial user testing to ask our friends and family what annoy them. We also asked what habits they wanted to change and any ideas for the form it should take. We got the following responses:
- What energy consumption habits do you want to change?
- Taking shorter showers x2
- Using phone less
- Using and buying less plastic
- Reduce power usage at home x2
- If it’s too cold/hot for the dogs
- Outside door is left open
- Devices/tvs/lights left on x2
- Cleaning not done
- air conditioner/heater left on
- What response would bother you? (e.g. sound, light, social media shaming)
- Sounds that keep happening for a really long time
- Spamming of the same message
- High cost
- Stops them from pursuing hobbies
- Stops them from going out
- Alerts on phone
- Creates more mess
- Loud noise
- Speaking (e.g. yells ‘Help me!” when someone walks past)
- Complaining about how cold it is etc.
- Loud & constant noise
- Flashing & change colour (e.g. red)
- Additional ideas - add movement sensor so it complains when someone walks past
- What form? (e.g. small box, plant, unappealing v appealing?)
- Something that is too heavy to move
- Something stuck in position
- Embedded in the bad habit
- Emotional connection
- Small object that can be portable
I also did some brainstorming about how I could actually create Energy Saving Emily so that we could start discussing the materials we need to source/purchase. I also noted any questions I had that I needed to discuss with the team/tutors.
We used these responses to finalise our idea and plan our pitch. We decided on each focusing on a section (writing, creating slides, and voice recording) and made sure that the whole team had read all sections to ensure all necessary content was included. I created the content for Negative Reinforcement, Storyboard, and Personas.I was given the task to create the video so I got the recordings from my team and the PowerPoint slides to finish the video. It didn't take too long and I was pretty happy with the result.
After our pitch, we received a lot of feedback surrounding the final form and ways to make it more annoying in a less annoying way (if that makes sense). A few people suggested that buzzer noises would make the user too frustrated to even use the product but having it complain the user like a 5 year old would, would make the user just the right level of annoyed to encourage change. A lot of people also suggested adding some positive reinforcement to balance it out and make more of an emotional connection to Emily. We still need to work out if it will fit under the domain enough to add some positive reinforcement.
Work To Do
Before next week our team have decided to do some individual brainstorming about the types of outputs we should have (through some research) and the final form. We also need to decide which areas we each want to focus on.
Over the weekend, I also want to start playing around with different mediums to create the final prototype so that I can buy the necessary materials before we are put in complete lockdown. My current idea is to try out proto-putty and see how difficult it is to use and if light can be seen through it. Otherwise, I might end up 3D printing it. I also want to do a bit more research into other forms that might also work for me.
Work that inspired me
I started researching more into protoputty and it looks really cool!