Project 2: Observation & Brainstorming

Due in class, Wednesday January 18

This project will have you engage in situation-specific observation and synthesize observations into design ideas through brainstorming. The course project theme is gestural interfaces: enabling new experiences using sensing technologies. In this assignment, you will begin the process of exploring this topic with an eye towards informing your final project.

First, pick an application area of interest to you. What compelling needs might be addressed with video and audio sensing? Example areas include (but are by no means limited to) health and wellness, social communication, entertainment (e.g., media control), handcraft, cooking, or activities in which one's hands are otherwise occupied.

Second, visit places and people engaging in your chosen activity. Identify relevant stakeholders – people directly involved or implicated in the activity. For example, if you are interested in elder care, potential stakeholders include the elderly being cared for, family members, and health care professionals (attending nurses or doctors). Pay attention to the distinct stakeholders and the settings, people and things that engage them. What works and what does not? Observe and talk with everyone you can! What are the practices and goals of the various participants? How are they different? How are they similar? How do they succeed or fail? Can you find and observe any "extreme participants" who can provide deeper design insight? Record your observations and interview people using the principles discussed in class and in the assigned readings. If feasible, try also to engage in the activity of interest yourself (i.e., be a participant-observer).

Third, brainstorm new applications from your observation results and develop a 3-5 minute skit that communicates an envisioned usage scenario.

The skills we will learn in this project are:

Observation and Interviewing
We're investigating the practices of people that may not be exactly like us, which means that we must work more critically and more actively. Bring a notebook and a camera! Take pictures, write notes, sketch. In addition to observing, talk to people about why they do what they do, have them reflect on concrete lived experiences, and try to get at the deeper meanings.

How to turn observations into design possibilities. Be creative in thinking of unexpected possibilities!

Show how users might interact with your envisioned technology by performing a skit. This skit should demonstrate both the motivation for your idea and an interaction scenario, integrating pictures, costumes, and props.

This project will be done in teams of 5; each team is responsible for choosing observation sites and collecting data. Sites and interviewees should be chosen to get different perspectives on a chosen application area. Conducting observations/interviews in groups of 2-3 allows you to get multiple perspectives and point things out to each other; it also allows one person to take rich notes while another may be more engaged with a respondent or activity. The five of you should then synthesize the results of your observations and prepare and present the skit together.

Read the d.school handouts on Observation, Synthesis, Brainstorming and POV.

The project has the following deliverables:

  1. Observation & Brainstorm materials - Before class Wednesday 1/18
    At this first stage you aren't trying to come up with specific problems and solutions, but instead are assembling a wide variety of materials that can inspire design. Take pictures, make notes, draw sketches and bring them all in. Read the notes on observation and interviews. In observing and interviewing don't just look at the specific activities, but also look behind them to the underlying cognitive, emotional, and social meanings. Next, conduct a group brainstorm session to identify and develop design opportunities. The deliverables should include synthesized data regarding your organized observations, photos / sketches, analyses, and brainstorming. Due to the holiday, we won't have the opportunity to review your findings in class. We strongly recommend that you conduct your observations on or before Monday! Your team should compose well-organized documentation of your observations as either a PDF document or single web page. How you organize the document is up to you, but be sure to include highlights from your observations (notes, photos), emergent themes/clusters, "how might we?" questions, and candidate design ideas. Email the document or a link to the web site to cs247@cs. Each group should send a single email; remember to note all group members on your document or web page.

  2. Demonstration skit - In class Wednesday 1/18
    Each team will present a short (3-5 minute) skit illustrating a vision of a new design. Be prepared to say a few words about the process that led you to the design, including other ideas you considered and what you learned. You will need to meet before Wednesday to prepare and rehearse it. If you have storyboards, written scenarios, etc. for preparing the script, hand them in as well.

  3. Reflection - After the presentation
    Individually, write/draw a reflection on your own experience working on the project: creative process, team process, design-development process, and what you might do next time. You do not need to turn in your reflections. In terms of team effort, we will assume that all team members put in their fair share unless we hear otherwise. If a team member went above and beyond, or other team members did not contribute sufficiently, please individually email your comments to cs247@cs. Be sure to include your estimates of the relative contribution of all your group members.


P2 Grading Rubric


Please feel free to e-mail us at cs247@cs.stanford.edu if you have any questions.