SYNNEKO - HACKATHON - DESIGN RESEARCHER 2020

As the design researcher for this 2 week hackathon, I started with crafting a research strategy.

In this two week project our team was tasked with creating an IoT and Smart speaker. I started out by crafting a research strategy as we only had 2 weeks to research and design a fully functional prototype. 

I started first with in depth research of IoT, competitive analysis, analyzing what constraints and requirements we had for our product development, survey and conducted initial user interviews to gain insights into core concerns, usability and thoughts on Smart speakers and IoT. From there I created personas, user stories, conducted a live prototyping session with lo-fi mocks, design review and ended with usability testing. 

 

In 2 weeks our team conducted research, synthesized data and created a hi-fidelity prototype and pitch. 

 

Key functions of my role:

Crafting research strategy

Conducting research 

Synthesizing data for design

Reviewing design for usability and accessibility 

Presenting the pitch 

HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE

2 weeks to conduct and synthesize research and create a prototype

MAKE OF THE TEAM

Pia Kahl, Ryan Rosales, Jaskaran Singh Sondi

KEY GOAL

Solving for the problem of privacy and security in IoT and Smart speaker

THE PROCESS

Empathy

Define/Ideate

Qualitative research 

Define research methods

Competitive Analysis

Problem

User flow

Design system

Iterate

Designs (Lo-fi)

Design review

Prototype

Hi-Fi Prototype

Qual research-live prototyping 

Test

Usability testing

Interviews

Pitch

I was the sole presenter to pitch our project

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Smart speaker

These Smart speaker designs were created by team member Jaskaran Singh Sondi for our final pitch and prototype.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE

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Competitive analysis

For this comp. analysis I analyzed sound quality, security and privacy features, pricing, IoT, Voice Assistant, and overall usability and accessibility of the app and speaker.

 

THE

CHALLENGE

How might we create a shopping experience that is engaging, on brand, intuitive, accessible and low-friction?

 

THE 

SOLUTION

Redesign an IoT and Smart speaker focusing on the highest level of security and privacy while remaining transparent about practices; create a more responsive voice assistant and partner with Klipsch to create a high quality speaker to reach a wider audience of musicians and audiophiles.  
 

DESIGN PROCESS

DEFINING

THE PROBLEM

Researched identified 3 core concerns and problems with Smart speaker tech and IoT.

 

  • Security & Privacy

    • ​How do we implement security and privacy transparency for people to feel secure and safe connecting their device to the IoT?

  • Voice Assistant

    • ​How can we make our assistant more responsive to low utility requests, more conversational and less robotic?

  • Sound quality 

    • ​While we can’t iterate speaker quality, in what ways would stakeholders be involved to improve this?

Going forward, we asked ourselves two questions:

  • How do we implement security and privacy transparency for people to feel secure and safe connecting their device to the IoT? 

  • How do we make our AI assistant more responsive to low utility requests, more conversational and less robotic while also staying ethical and mindful of privacy?

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THE RESEARCH

IT'S ALL ABOUT

THE PEOPLE

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Research methods used: Qualitative-Ethnographic interviews, surveys, usability testing, live prototyping

 

The methods used helped us to connect more with people on a personal level, rather than just using a survey and solely relying on quantitative. I interviewed and surveyed people to gain insights on what they say, think and do related to current IoT/Smart speakers they use. These qualitative methods helped me to answer the what, why and how of fixing our problem. 

 

Questions I asked during 1:1 interviews helped us uncover and validate our problems, uncover more concerns and learn from new perspectives.

Some questions asked during the interview process:

1. What experience do you have with IoT and Smart speakers?

2. How do you interact with your Smart speaker(s)?

3. What influenced you to purchase your current Smart speaker(s)?

4. What benefit do you gain from using a Smart speaker and/or IoT?

"You never truly know where your data is going. The companies are not that transparent about it."

THE RESEARCH

ITERATING ON

SOLUTIONS

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After initial research was synthesized and shared with designers, we explored the scalability and started iterating on solutions through design.

Privacy and Security

By creating our own proprietary cloud service, Synnekt, people that currently use other Cloud based systems can feel more secure in their choice and finally feel comfortable enough to connect their device to other Smart products in their home allowing the speaker to be utilized to its full capabilities rather than just as a timer. 

 

Voice Assistant (AI) 

As designers we need to consider every variation of intent, utterance and slot of a voice command.

 

To create a more responsive and conversational Voice Assistant we would utilize machine learning algorithms to ensure that the assistant can keep up and adapt to situations, continue learning and understanding voice requests and conversations. 

 

Speaker Quality

While we could not iterate the quality of the speaker, we did research into potential stakeholders that Synneko could partner with to create audiophile grade speakers and decided upon Klipsch.

IRIS is the intelligent, rad, interactive system revolutionizing conversation with AI.

Iris is a smart, attentive, conversational, responsive, and rad system. 

We wanted Iris to be more adaptable and flexible in conversation, this was especially important for us to think about as during Covid-19 millions of people are at home, and some without anyone to talk to. 

 

We created a dialogue flow to better understand how people could interact with Iris and to make sure that we create a Voice Assistant that can understand the variances in our speech. 

THE ASSISTANT

MEET IRIS

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A dialogue between IRIS and Alice. 
Onboarding dialogue flow exploration.
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User flow

After ideating on validating IRIS, and our solutions we started with a user flow to identify core components and features of our app. 

The flows were based on research of other IoT and smart speaker apps and what we uncovered in initial surveys and interviews. The consistency acts as a heuristic to make our app easy to navigate and the flow ensures there is sufficient feedback on the users actions as they go through the onboarding process.

 

The experience was designed for people to perform tasks with minimal effort but with assurance that they are accomplishing their goal.

LEARNING

OUTCOMES

  • It was hard to get everyone together to meet and meetings were, at the beginning, unproductive. Utilizing a tool like Miro to create sprints would have had a better impact earlier on. 

  • Three team members were very new to the design process and weren't quite sure of the value of research. It was a learning experience to show the importance of research in all aspects of design and how it can be used to inform design.  

  • At first we had no clear leader and too many voices weren't being heard. I stepped up to lead the team and realized that we needed a leader earlier on to create a strategy and give space for all voices and perspectives to be heard throughout our process to make sure we were staying collaborative and open to new ideas. 

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