A Multi-sensory Interactive Tool for Remote School
Remote work is becoming more popular especially after coronavirus pandemic. When different forms of collaboration transformed into online experience, such as schools, many in-person interactions are limited under video call platforms. Many issues emerged due to this transformation, including unnatural and inefficient communication and "Zoom Fatigue". In this project, we were asked to design a multi-sensory interactive tools/systems in remote work settings:
How might multi-sensory interactions that go beyond typical inputs improve user experience in remote collaboration?
Multi-sensory Tools in Remote Collaboration
November- December 2020
Studio 1: Designing for Interaction with Dina El-Zanfaly and Kyuha Shim
BeMee facilitates self-directed learning for elementary school students through tangible and interactive experience, so that families and instructors can have a balanced remote school life. It consists of multiple cubes and one reader that connects cubes to laptop/tablet.
BeMee cubes help children become independent learners through visualizing their class schedules and homework throughout the day. Each cube's screen uses clear color code to distinguish courses for children.
Integrated with Google Classroom, BeMee provides simple interaction for children to enter online classes, communicate with their teachers, and check class agendas.
Play for Well-being
During break, the clock cube encourages children to leave seats to exercise and stretch through fun little games.
Celebration with Rewards
When students finish their homework for each class on time, the screen will generate a reward video that features their classmates' collective presence. They are able to merge the screen in various ways to form a larger canvas. The videos are different everyday.
To better understand the challenges in remote collaboration under elementary schools' classroom setting, we had conversations with 5 working parents and 1 kid. We asked them questions about their family background, their life changes from remote school, and their opinions on children's education under remote school.
We explored different technology from AR, VR to tangible UI to understand the possible technology we could design with. We researched on their applications, constraints and design principles to learn if they are suitable options. We also visualized their possible application in remote collaboration under classroom setting through storyboarding.
How might we
support a balanced remote school life
for families and instructors
by cultivating self-directed learning habits
in 6-10 year olds?
Based on the research insights, we developed the following design principles to generate our ideas.
We ideated a few rounds on the concepts of remote collaboration in elementary schools, including social environment issues, parents involvement, and physical learning. We finalized on the following storyboards to get more feedbacks, and conduct bodystorming to further understand the experience from users' perspectives.
The following image shows the ideation process of BeMee's physical component. We decided on the simple cubes because they are more suitable for independent learning. Not only are they not visually dominant to cause distraction, but they also provide simple and playful interaction for children.
After choosing the rough shape, we explored various forms for individual cubes.
Since this is not a standard device, we need some remote testing on children's hands. However, it's difficult to conduct user testing during the pandemic, so we ask for photos of children's hands holding common objects. Then, we 3D printed cubes in multiple sizes to determine the proper size of the device. We also designed the the light strip along the edges.
We finalized on the following form. It offers round edges for more comfortable grab.
Integration with Google Classroom
01. Designing for children
Designing for children was challenging in that we as designers need to be mindful on safety, suitable age, and usability of the product. When parents and instructors are involved, the design gets more complicated, because what's good for children's growth and education is not necessarily an enjoyable experience for them. When a feature can potentially causes micromanagement from parents/instructors or overemphasizes on extrinsic motivation, we need to detect the negative outcome, and make appropriate design decisions.
02. Understanding non-standard devices
The device and the UI design of BeMee is not a standard device, so we revised our design multiple times to find the most proper fit. One of the devices we often took as a reference was apple watch due to its similar sizes. To make the interfaces child-friendly, we also took a look at UI for children to learn the general rules, such as Youtube Kids.
03. Rapid Prototyping
Throughout the project, we need to quickly generate ideas and give them forms. We learn to rapidly find reference, build our design upon references, and test the idea in various ways, such as 3D modeling, 3D printing, foam board and even plasticine.