Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Prototyping the system

Clearly, given our target audience, we can't produce a visual prototype to show potential users and ask for feedback. After a bit of thinking we've come up with an alternative involving us simulating the device's voice prompts whilst a user requests information from us as they would do with the device. This can then be recorded using a video camera and analysed later.

Mike Sharkey has agreed to be our guinea pig for this test. Firstly we will obtain a shopping list of his items in advance so we can actually go to the store and plan a route around the shop floor (analogous to the route finder in the system producing an itinerary from a pre-defined shopping list).

Once permission has been obtained from the store (most likely Pronto in the Guild or University Centre) the following test plan will take place:

Testing to see how well the suggested menu system with rotating bezel works

  • give Mike an overview of what's available in the menu system in terms of options
  • see if he's comfortable clicking round and selecting items from it with us providing voice feedback of the current menu item.
  • record audio feedback from him about how he found it.

Once he's happy (or not) we can move onto simulating the actual tasks without the "clicking", just him telling us what he wants to achieve eg. "go to checkout" and we will then guide him.

Clearly we can't simulate the pressure ring on the back of the smart watch, so we will use voice commands, eg. "left", "stop". Afterwards we will ask if he thinks the pressure system specified would be better than our improvised voice prompts.

Shopping - repeat:

  • Mike should ask us what item he's looking for from his list (which we hold).
  • tell him (by voice) compass directions to the item's shelf, and when to stop.
  • Mike should then emulate using the barcode scanner to check the (imagined) barcodes on the shelves.
  • he should move his finger, pointing from the top to bottom of the shelves, scanning from top to bottom, with us reading out the product description as each shelf is reached. This is equivalent to the user scanning down the shelves with the barcode reader.
  • he should say "that's it" or something similar when he's happy with the choice, then retrieve the next item from us (the list) by saying "next item"
  • at the end of the list we say "end of list"

Product description should give a succinct summary of manufacturer (eg. Heinz), item name (baked beans), weight/contents if necessary or multipack etc. In practice this will all be set by the supermarket but we should be careful not to give too much (due to taking too long and the user getting impatient) or too little information.

I suggest we should choose just three or four items for Mike to locate using the simulated system and record him using the video camera doing this to see if it seems straightforward enough for him to use, and whether he improves in using this system by the end of the test.

Finally we need to ask him to discuss with us how he found the overall experience, recording it as audio on the camera. We should specifically cover ease of navigation - "does it get you to what you want quickly enough?"


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