Midterm Presentation

Posted on: Friday, February 22, 2008

Team Octobox pulled off yet another presentation!

We’re happy to report that our midterm presentation was a success based on the feedback from our instructors. The strongest point that we had was our iterative process (specified in the previous post) wherein we decided to take a step back and re-evaluate our product and concept. Kurtis did a great job on elaborating on this aspect as an introduction to our report. Second to that was Andrew’s genius use of icons to represent our ideas in the slides, clear, simple and cute. Kudos to Manuel for making the sexy widget.

On the other hand, there was still room for improvement. The slides would have been more complete with a few images that would give a short narrative to the construction of our prototype. We also felt that the prototype itself needed work… a LOT of work. We got the lighting and watering working, however, it was not controlled by the widget. It was far from the sleek and simple aesthetic we were going for but the schematics helped our instructors have a better idea on what it we intend it to look like eventually.

Another note is that we had re-branded ourselves as you can see through our website, poster and midterm presentation. A new look for the new semester!

Download the Octobox Spring 2008 Midterm Presentation



Presentation Preparation (and a New Iteration)

Posted on: Friday, February 15, 2008

With the upcoming presentation consistently on our minds and evident dissatisfaction with the state of our physical prototype, the team decided that a change was necessary.

While this inevitably brought about conflict amidst our team, it was unanimously decided that there were some issues in need of addressing and a new iteration was somewhat timely.

Of the most pressing issues, there were two rather significant problems that were most imminent: a target audience in need of updating and the issue of an increasingly similar project amidst our IAT 404/5 class.

Firstly, our original target audience (specifically, busy young professionals) was obviously derived from our team’s identification of a problem: people leading busy lives rarely have time for gardening or the environment, regardless of their interest. However, this specific target audience became more of a hindrance than anything else; in short, it prevented us from looking into other situations where this product might be utilized and alternate user groups that could potentially be interested. But more than anything else, there was still the question of whether busy professionals would have an interest in this product for long-term periods. In addressing these questions, we’ve decided to drop the use of a target audience and develop a target persona instead. In contrast to target audiences, the target persona allows for less narrow-mindedness and a more open approach to the potential market dynamics. The details of this persona will be released next week with our presentation slides.

Secondly, and perhaps most infuriatingly, our team was rather troubled by the overt similarities between our project and a fellow team. Rather than dwelling on this, however, we decided to further differentiate our product by developing a new visual style and by emphasizing the above shift in target users. This will also be further addressed in our upcoming presentation.



Draft Prototype Evaluation Plan

Posted on: Friday, February 8, 2008

Exercise One: Evaluation Criteria

Mission statement:
Strengthening the relationship between people and the environment by merging urban and natural spaces.

Project overview:
Mini indoor greenhouse used for growing herbs, vegetables and other small plants.

High-level goals/Goals of the interaction:

  •   To grow and monitor plants/herbs/vegetables in a convenient and effective way
  •   To create a heightened sense of awareness regarding the importance of organic foods in one’s lifestyle

Point of Interface/Why it matters:

  • Box: To allow the watering and lighting of the plants in a simple, intuitive manner (single button for each control)
  • Widget: To allow the monitoring of the growth and health of the plants

5 Qualities of Experience: Interactive, satisfying, engaging, smooth, simple

5 Goals of Interaction:
1. Enable user to monitor status of plants digitally(?)
2. Allow user to control lighting and watering of plants
3. Simplify plant care indoors
4. Create a give and take relationship between users and their plants
5. Easy access to organically grown vegetables and herbs

Ways our interface enables those experiences and qualities to be created in a functional way directly related to the interface and interaction:
1. create direct access to the status of my plant
2. constant update of box temperature and humidity
3. alert the user when water or temperature levels are too low

Participant Assumption

  • familiarity with using computers
  • familiar with the concept and use of widgets

Exercise Two: Prototype Usability Concerns

Our interface is primarily about ease in monitoring the status
of your plant while the physical prototype will function as a mini greenhouse to house plants, herbs or vegetables within your home.

// Is the widget fully functional?
// Is the use of widgets ideal for the task of monitoring?
// Are the icons and labeling used clear enough to understand?
// Is the interface visually appealing? Does it meet the user’s expectation?
// Is the user able to water the plant?
// is the user able to manipulate the lighting?
// Is the user’s experience with the interaction similar to that of typical gardening? Is the work required for maintenance simplified enough?
// Is the product visually appealing? (shape, size, material) Does it meet the user’s expectation?

Goals and Expectations: (Participants will be able to…)
// Understand the function of the widget
// Recognize what the labels and icons represent
// Immediately identify the status of the plant
// Will give high evaluating points to the aesthetics and experience of the interface
// Water the plant
// Manipulate the lighting inside the box
// Have an enjoyable and more simplified interaction with the plant
// Will give high evaluating points to the aesthetics and experience of the physical prototype

Exercise Three: Evaluation Method

We will be using a combination of methods for the evaluation of our physical and interface prototype. A realistic scenario will be introduced to set up the do-it-yourself walkthrough. The participants will be given a task to monitor the status of their plant using the widget for our prototype test. From the information gained from the widget, the user will be asked to manipulate the physical box prototype either by manipulating the lighting or by watering the plant. Group members who will be taking down notes will observe this process.
After the test, a one-on-one interview will be conducted. Participants will be asked questions regarding the functionality and experience of using the interface and physical prototype. Suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Exercise Four: Data Collection Methodology

• Ease and speed of learning functionality
• Differentiating between the clickable and non-clickable buttons
• Understanding how to use the calendar
• Quality and number of responses regarding: visual aesthetics, navigation, form
• Number of errors they encountered

• Ease of learning functionality
• Refilling/releasing water
• On/off lighting
• Inserting/removing plantlife (access/door)
• Quality and number of responses regarding: aesthetics, form, usability
• Average amount of time to complete each task (because, you know, our users are busy young professionals and they’d need to finish tasks quickly, for sure)
• Portability
• Ease of grabbing and carrying

Exercise Five: Deliverables

The results of the usability test will be presented through an in-depth evaluation report of the process in which we will be able to pinpoint our observations accompanied with photos. This will help us formulate recommendations to apply certain changes to the design and continue to develop our product a step further.