Brighton Vino Jegarajan


A tangible travel and social assistant.

Project Team
My Role
Ideation | Storyboarding | Interaction Design | Interface Prototyping | Android App Development | Web Service and APIs

The Problem

The problem space explores “Discovery through travel”. Specifically, it addresses the problem of establishing oneself within a new community after having moved from one city to another. How long does it take for someone to feel like a local? When does a new place feel like home, instead of a strange place? How do you build these experiences from the ground up?

The Goal

The goal of this project is to enable greenhorns, or newcomers, to receive personalized knowledge that is already known to natives and also solve the problem associated with meeting people for the first time in a public setting.

Brainstorming and Market Study

  • Creative Matrix - Brainstorming Activity

  • Review of Existing Products in problem space. View Market Stufy

  • Value Chart of existing products in market.

  • Cognitive Sub-Task Analysis of grocery shopping.

Understanding the Problem Space

The team took up a creative matrix “Discovery through travel” and gain an initial understanding of the problem space. Additionally, two unstructured interviews were made to get a preliminary understanding of the user needs. Feedback was then used to conduct 20 semi-structured user interviews, with people who have varying amount of moving experiences, to understand the problems they encountered when moving to a new city.

Identified Patterns

  • Social Needs - Involves finding new friends or accessing friends of friends.
  • Social Activities - Finding new places to hang out and meet new people.
  • Commercial Activities - Locating grocery stores, banks and retail stores.
  • Transportation - Knowing the best / safest / quickest way to a destination.

Design Alternatives

We considered the various issues related to the relocation process and focused primarily on three aspects of the issue with each of our design alternatives. Our first concept deals with wandering in the new city. The second addresses mapping places of interests, food, and entertainment preferences in the user’s old town to potential new preferences in the new city. The third concept deals with the social aspects of meeting new people.

  • Wandering - An organic and self-guided, yet highly-informed, approach to exploring a new city. This design proposes an augmented smart-watch application that would allow rapid access to location-aware, contextual data providing both passive and active information signaling.

  • Acclimating - An assisted exploration in the new city while considering the personal preferences and habits of the user in their previous town. The system could be considered analogous to ‘Pandora’ for places.

  • Connecting - A physical tangible object, each of which has some basic operations and is paired up with a mobile device to provide locational awareness and connection to the network. The user can walk up into a social setting and be notified of other such objects in the vicinity and interact with the other through bumping and exchanging object.

Poster Feedback

The novelty of both Wandering and Connecting evoked a lot of excitement with the potential user-group. Each of these ideas had segments which the users found to be very useful in the context, however, as a stand alone system they each needed a bit of development. We decided like to explore a combination of the two concepts, utilizing the best features from each in a way that does not detract from the user experience.

As both ‘Wandering’ and ‘Connecting’ requiring a physical component to be connected to a mobile device, either through the use of an object or a smart-watch, we planned to leverage this scope to provide additional information on the mobile device as a supplement to the core concept of the ideas.

System Prototype

The prototype developed can be broken into multiple segments with multiple phases. Our prototype focused on connecting people based on matching their interests and having them meet at a place in the neighborhood.

We explored two assist systems that help the users meet at the target place. One version is a customized map on the mobile screen that tells the user which direction he or she should be headed to. The other variant uses lights attached to the corners of the customized mobile case to guide the user to his target location, while doubly serving as a demonstrative signal to other users they wish to meet.

  • Mobile Screen Wireframes

  • Sub-Task Analysis of connecting with people.

  • Hardware Prototype - Custom mobile Lego phone case with Arduino processor to control the lights.

  • Hardware Simulation - Controlling the lights using the Bluetooth and Arduino paired to a phone.

Completed System & Evaluation

Three sections of the prototype were evaluated as a part of this phase. The mobile interface and user-experience, the applicability and the usability of the assisted navigation system, and the social aspects of exchanging Lego blocks.

The navigation system was evaluation using a on-field evaluation with user having to meet another person using the product. The user interface was evaluated by heuristic Evaluation, while the social feasibility and product acceptance were studied with feedback questionnaire and semi-structured interviews.