Wearable Technology and eHealth: Lesson Five

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Student prototypes of wearable objects and smart phone interfaces are starting to shape up. This week the students have refined their ideas and each group is iterating and refining the user experience of their solution.

Physical mock-ups of their wearable devices are being developed as the simultaneously work on the interface of the corresponding app. Using the POP: Prototyping on Paper app they were able to add interactions and test the system. Rapid Iterations are encouraged as students test and refine (and repeat) to gain valuable user feedback and make improvements.

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Wearable Technology and eHealth: Lesson Four

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We have reached the midpoint of our journey into the wearable technology course. Rapid Prototyping and Journey Mapping was the theme for lesson four. The students began by presenting the progress of their prototypes. They walked through how their ideas were transformed through validating assumptions with targeted users. Building on knowledge and experience from the Venture Studio workshop, they used either the Lean Startup Machine Validation Board or the Javelin Experiment Board as part of their process.

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Wearable Technology and eHealth: Lesson Three

Tech gadgets are fun to play with, but how can we build on existing technology to form new and innovative eHealth solutions? Our third lesson of the Wearable Technology and eHealth course investigated these possibilities.

I began by introducing students to a brief history of connectivity. Our discussion then focused on biohacking and principles for designing with empathy in order to humanize product systems. We concluded that context is king. Building off of the VanUE event hosted at VFS earlier in the week (coincidentally focused on Wearables) our key point landed on a quote from the speaker, Kharis O’Connell. He talked about how “the biggest challenge will be finding compelling use cases for all this technology.”  

To apply these conclusions into tangible solutions, a studio-style workshop gave students an opportunity to use the devices from lesson two as prototyping tools. (hint: more playing with gadgets!). Groups built conceptual connected objects to respond to a health-related end goal and experience goal of their personas. This time they enhanced the available technology with cardboard, Legos, string, tape, straws and a variety of other materials.

One highlight of the session utilized the Sphero. A pair of students worked to create a digitally enhanced system for guiding the visually impaired. In the duration of the workshop they were able to prototype and test at least six iterations that enhanced the Sphero using balloons, string, a grocery bag, straws and cardboard. Starting with an ankle-based guide for a wheelchair user they learned that their hands were more adept in sensing directional movement. The students learned through testing their product that it worked best on carpet and needed further revision to be street-ready.

In this lesson, the class focused on tactile learning through making objects. As we move forward in the course we will be returning back to the smart phone and prototyping interfaces to test with our products. Stay tuned for more wearable and eHealth problem-solving fun.

 

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Wearable Technology and eHealth: Lesson Two

Who wouldn’t want to play with the latest tech gadgets? Following the first lesson on trends, the second lesson of the new Wearable Technology and eHealth course gave students the opportunity to test and to experiment with a wide range of wearable devices and prototyping tools. Instructor Karen Whistler first presented examples of eHealth solutions with an analysis of utility, entertainment and information within current connected products. Hands-on testing and playing with a series of connected devices consumed the remainder and majority of the class. The mandate was to evaluate the strengths and the limitations of current connected and wearable devices, with an emphasis on having fun. In addition to a collection of iOS and Android devices, the students had access to Sphero, Nike+ FuelBands (1st Gen & SE), Jawbone UP, Phillips Hue Bridge & 3 bulbs, and WeMo Motion and Switch. The students were challenged to propose ‘hacks’ and additions to the devices to push them further in functionality. Hands down, the highlight to this lesson was the use of the prototyping tool: MaKey MaKey. The entire class even got involved to create a human circuit to power the virtual piano. It was fun to see the use of a graphite pencil to draw the keys on a sheet of paper to actually trigger the playing of the piano. At the end of this lesson, the students were given the project briefs for the term. We’re looking forward to seeing the solutions they come up with.

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Wearable Technology and eHealth: Lesson One

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Hot on the heels of his DD Talks presentation about Digital Trends, Nik Badminton was a guest speaker for the first lesson of the new Wearable Technology and eHealth course.  He discussed trends in the mobile arena and recent industry developments such as different ways smartphones have been hacked to achieve greater functionality. The students were also given a review about the concept of the Internet of Things, which expanded the discussion possibilities and planted seeds for their in-class exercise. Nik and instructor Karen Whistler led a workshop session for the students to brainstorm ways an iPhone and an app could be used to solve human challenges for a specified area such as business productivity, home management, health and fitness, gaming, school, driving, travel, communication, storing data, and sharing data. They had to consider ways to evolve existing features and technologies of a smartphone. The students presented a wide range of ideas covering solutions from escaping a bad date to weather forecasting for commute planning. It was a great start to an exciting new course.

Our next post about this course will cover eHealth solutions and the testing of wearable products currently on the market.
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