ID2017-conSensus

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Group Members

  • James Crisp
  • Jake Farrant
  • Jack Cabble
  • John Scott

Week 1 - Initial Ideas

Group5ideas.jpg

Home Environment

To start with, we needed to think of issues that can arise in either a home or lab situation. This was initially difficult for us as none of the group had previously considered this to any detail before the session. It didn't take us long to start to identify issues with our everyday lives though. One issue that was identified with the home scenario was that in my house, I was always the last one to find out about any family events/gatherings even though the plans were made weeks in advance. Typically these events were displayed on the calendar and as the calendar isn't something that I look at very often I am always surprised to come home one evening to have to go straight out again.

Another household issue that was discussed was the use of speech to communicate with devices around the home. TVs, Phones and devices like the Amazon Echo are using speech technology now where you have to give an instruction to the device by talking to it. Most of our group agreed that this seemed strange and we were less likely to use the speech function on any devices as it made us feel weird or odd to be talking to a computer. This is something we need to bear in mind when going through this development process.

We then started to discuss the importance of information shared around the house and whether there are any differences in the way they are written down. For example, a notice on the fridge can be there for a long time but a notice left on the kitchen side could only be relevant for a few minutes. When leaving the house a few of us leave notes on the kitchen side or living room table to explain to our parents that we have gone out and will be back later. Once the information has been read it is no longer relevant and will often get thrown away. If we put this on the fridge it will either not get noticed or will be seen as being put in the wrong place by other members of the house.

Work Environment

After discussing the issues that could surround a home environment we then turned our attention to a work or lab environment. At the workplace we identified that whiteboards are very often used for communicating with staff members and posters are used to give staff information about things like cleaning chemical usage or health and safety practices. The chances of any of us actually reading the information was very slim as we all agreed that most of the information posters that are put up around the work place are there to tick health and safety / regulation boxes. We discussed the idea that these posters could be more interactive if they were on a screen as the employee could find out more information by tapping or selecting the topic of interest on the poster so he/she can find out everything they need to know. We also were thinking in terms of the attention model and that a screen with moving images and colorful images were more likely to grab the attention of employees than just a bog standard boring poster.

The use of tablets has become more popular over the years and in the workplace they are becoming much more common. This allows employees to carry less equipment but still be able to do all the things that they normally would. This emphasized that we needed to ensure that whatever it is we were going to create needed to make life simpler for the user.

Lab Environment

Once we started to discuss the amount of shared information in a lab situation we were able to think more clearly about the task. We identified loads of information that can be shared on various different surfaces. Room temperature is a good example as people who are in a lab will often need to know the room temperature and rather than having to rely on a thermometer having a shared display that everyone can see will be a huge benefit to everyone involved. Using this shared display this has the potential to have many other pieces of information displayed on it such as outside temperature, room humidity, whether patterns etc.

While these discussions were going on we realized that in a lab environment it would be best practice to not have moving displays as this could cause a distraction with the workers there and causing distractions in a lab environment is not a good idea.

Week 2 - Discussing Ideas and Site Visit

After the first week we needed to bounce ideas around within the group to try and get some inspiration. After talking with each other in a Whats App group we decided that the best thing we could do was visit a site to do some more research around the types of shared media that are present. After discussing potential ideas such as factories, warehouses or even shops we decided that a school would be a good starting point as there are plenty of shared media surfaces scattered around that we could look at. James and I decided to get into contact with the site manager at Ansford Academy (our old secondary school) and ask if we could look around the school site. We were able to gain access to the site at 2pm on Wednesday 25th October as it was half term. This wouldn't have been possible if it was term time but luckily the half term week aligned up with our research perfectly.

Site Visit (Module Experience Day) - All Members

To start with, we decided to just walk around the site and discuss ideas as they came to us. We seen the usual shared media surfaces such as noticeboards, wall displays and photo displays.

These shared media surfaces are commonplace in these institutions but do have potential for our project. The information shared on these surfaces can often be displayed for very long periods of time as they are there for everyone to appreciate. We spoke to a teacher who was in her classroom and we asked her how many times she changes the display in her classroom. She told us that normally a display is changed every summer and that a lot of her colleagues do the same. Putting an interactive screen in place of a normal wall display or noticeboard could just be seen as a wasted exercise and a waste of electricity. However, at this point it is worth noting that these kinds of displays are likely to wear and deteriorate over time, especially due to the environment in which they are being used, therefore in terms of the presentation of the display, a screen is likely to look better.

In some places around the school there is a shared media surface that is digital. In the main reception of the school there is a television screen that can display information on an automatic rolling display. This is useful as the information shared on this surface is going to change frequently and having it displayed on a digital screen means the information can be changed with ease.

We then started to think outside the box and started to look at other things such as door signs, speakers and even a wet floor sign! These ideas were never going to materialize into anything useful but it got us thinking in a different way.

These ideas had some purpose to them but they solved problems that either didn't need solving or didn't really exist in the first place. We then looked at the typical classroom whiteboard and found that the school uses both interactive whiteboards and normal whiteboards for different purposes.

Interactive whiteboards have mostly replaced the normal whiteboard but as the school uses both there must be still be a use for the older normal whiteboard. We needed more inspiration and after we walked into a science classroom we noticed something.

Windows are present in most rooms in the school and mostly they do their job. However, in this science classroom we noticed that the windows stretched from one end of the classroom to the other and the window didn't provide you with a view.

Windowview.PNG

As you can see from the photo, these windows are just looking at a brick wall. This gave us an idea that maybe a window could be a shared media surface. We then decided to see if there were any other windows like this within the school that could potentially be changed into a media surface. As it turned out, we saw a whole load of them and realized that we could be onto something.

We managed to find 7 examples of windows that could be turned into shared media surfaces within one block of the school. After walking around trying to find more examples we came across a window that neatly summed up what we were trying to achieve in our minds. The information displayed on this window is being viewed by a lot of people but it doesn't block the light from coming through. In other words, it doesn't stop the window from being a window!

Windowwithseethroughinformation.PNG

The idea of windows being turned into media surfaces still seemed odd to us but then we came across another example of a wasted window - frosted glass.

After seeing examples of these windows that could be used in a different way we then decided to ask ourselves what we would use the surface for. After looking around the rooms and thinking logically we realized that they could be used for just about anything. Interactive calendars, noticeboards, weather updates, traffic updates, news updates or even just a photo frame could be put to use. This would free up space on the actual wall surface where extra shelves could be put up for example.

Week 3 - Individual Primary Research / Analysis

We have now decided that we need to take this idea and look at another environment to see if this idea is feasible. All four of us have decided that we need to look at a home environment and apply the same research techniques.

Home Environment - James' Research

After surveying the school, I decided to have a look at some shared media surfaces within another context, therefore i decided to look at my own home environment, which I am familiar with, therefore I found it easier to analyse the surfaces within my home. I noticed that the surfaces within my home were very similar to those that were within the school, for example, there were:

As can be seen in the photos, there are big unused surfaces in my home - similar to those of the schools, so it is clear that these surfaces should be used. I feel that the most obvious surface to share media on is the window, as windows are generally used to let light and air into a room, therefore, if we could create a way of sharing media on a window without impeding the amount of light and air that is let into the room, I think we could have a very successful project, that could potentially be taken to market if we spent enough time developing it.

I believe that this is the best type of product to pursue, as a lot of people use big wooden doors for cupboards, as they like the aesthetics of a large surface of wood, therefore people aren't likely to want to put media all over it, as it would ruin the way it looks, making the media surface look completely out place.

The most traditional way of sharing media within a household is via the fridge door, and it has been proven not to work efficiently time and time again, therefore I believe that we should pursue another idea rather than trying to change something that we know doesn't work very well at all, and is unlikely to work well in the future - even after some changes.

Home Environment - Jake's Research

Following on from our research at the school and taking into consideration what we had learned, I went to a friends house to look around his kitchen to see what sort of shared information there was and also to see if our window idea would be fruitful in a home environment. Straight away I could see potential issues with the information that is shared around his kitchen. The calendar for example is on the wall where it would normally be but is completely out of sight when you come into the kitchen. The actual door is covering the calendar so when you walk in there is no incentive to look at it for any information that is aimed at you.

The fridge is another shared surface that is common in peoples houses and it had been utilized in this house as well. Oddly, the front of the fridge was completely blank which is odd to me because I would have thought that the front of the fridge would be the best place to put information as it is on full view. Both sides of the fridge were covered in notes, documents, reminder letters and general information, some of which didn't need to be there but has just been put there so its not on the kitchen sides anymore.

After speaking to my friend about the sort of information that is usually shared in the kitchen he said that he would prefer it if the information wasn't so out of sight like the calendar is. He also said that information stored on the side of the fridge can often fall off and get lost between the fridge and the kitchen units. I told him about our research at the school and said that we had identified windows as a potential shared media surface that could help free up wall space or in this case fridge space for other things. He liked the idea but pointed out that his kitchen window is quite useful as it gives him a view of his driveway and the back garden.

After he pointed this out to me I then noticed that the door has a huge panel of frosted glass. I pointed this out to him and explained how this could be potentially turned into a shared media surface. I explained how things like calendars, weather forecasts, traffic reports etc. I showed him the dackboard software (https://dakboard.com/) as an example and he was very impressed with this. The door would be an ideal place for our idea of a shared media surface as it is in full view of the kitchen, as you walk into the kitchen it is right in front of you and as the glass is frosted it wont block any view of the garden.

Home Environment - Jack's Research

I initially took a look at the home environment as I felt that looking for similarities between public areas and private areas would be helpful for our final idea. The window idea still seems fresh and promising due to the examples that we all have found. I started at the front of the house and worked my way through identifying the different surfaces that were or could be used to share information. As we had already focused on the fridge quit a lot, I tried to steer clear of the more popular places in which information is shared:

These are just some examples of surfaces that could be improved. The first image shows that the 2 windows within the front door are just used for light. A potential improvement could be to display weather and temperature information. However, this would not be essential. The second image shows where most long-term information is stored within my home environment. Obviously it is extremely messy and is often hard to find what you are looking for. If this was digitised, you could simply search for what you were looking for. Finally, the last image was the one i found the most interesting. Within the cupboard are little ornaments to look at. However, you would not expect these to be in a cupboard and therefore most people would just walk past it. The only useful thing stored in this cupboard were things like paracetamol. This would be a good surface to put a digital screen onto as it would provide a better purpose for the glass screen on the cupboard.

One problem that I thought of about putting a screen onto a window would be that if the window was to open, we would need to make sure that the screen was waterproof or had some way of protecting the product. Another issue that was risen was that the screen could potentially be rendered useless in the evening when you want to close the curtains or shut the blinds. If we were to put a screen onto something like the third image, this would prevent us from having to combat these issues.

Much like the other members of the group, I feel that putting our product onto a window would have the best potential for creating something that would improve the way in which information could be shared.

Home Environment - John's Research

Once the decision to examine a shared living environment was made, I first turned to my own home as a source from which I might make conclusions. The first thing that stuck me was the lack of truly shared media. A solitary, unutilised paper calendar hung in the hallway was the best I could find.

I then turned my attention to media platforms that were available to all, spurred on by the idea that the tools for efficient communication were already in place but just unused to their potentials. My findings support my initial perception. Everyone in my household had access to a smart phone, PC of some nature and multiple e-mail or social media accounts. This apparent lack of communication wasn’t though lack of trying then, but rather a great many coincidences and barriers.

Things as simple as not knowing who might be home at a specific time on any given day might drastically change the plans of others. Differing work schedules and commutes might see family members separated for days at a time, making the simple task of communicating basic information such as the weather difficult.

By focusing my attentions on this small piece of data, the weather, I was able to narrow my search for a media surface to just one contender. Windows. Just about any building has many square meters of glass doing little more than letting the light in. From this point on it was my intention to make better use of this otherwise featureless space.

A window with little or no view could potentially be rejuvenated by turning it into a media surface, just as a window with a picturesque scene to project could be reimagined to display ambient metrics. A beautiful view could become a large weather information station by the simple inclusion of small, unobtrusive displays.

Week 4 - Project prototyping and specification

After reviewing our research as a group, we decided that we were going to use windows as a shared media surface. After making this decision, we came up with the following specification:

Project Summary

We will produce a shared medium that will allow its users, primarily key stage 2 pupils, staff and parents, to keep a record of the student’s understanding and feelings towards a given subject. Our aim is to generate a personal learning curve based on individual feedback. For each student, we also plan to provide a weekly review of the general consensus of emotion towards a specific topic by means of averaging an entire class’s individual responses.

Current Situation

The modern classroom is a diverse and difficult environment. Individual student needs are to be met in a small amount of time by one teacher with a responsibility for up to thirty pupils. Current methods for testing course knowledge rely heavily on comprehensive understanding of the spoken and written word. The only other means by which grading can be accomplished is by observing student progress over time. In reality single events or scores from other tests form the basis of the report, meaning many pupils are not accurately evaluated.

Identifying Problems to be Solved

Language barriers, special educational needs and cultural nuances make devising progress review tests particularly challenging. Those with a lesser ability to read, write or speak the local dialect might struggle to answer a traditional test. For this reason, we propose a means of gathering individual feedback from each student without the need for a teacher present. This should enable us to save valuable teaching time as the need for frequent, lengthy testing would be exchanged for more frequent, less formal assessment. The potential to plot this information over a given timeframe will also prove beneficial to teachers and parents when the time for reflection on a child’s understanding arises as is often the case with parents’ evenings.

User Impact

In keeping with our research, we aim to provide these features without infringing on the current classroom layout – essentially meaning no alterations are made to the environment and display space is left unchanged. Instead we view a small window as the target for deployment as ideally it would be located on the door of the room. This helps aid correct use by pupils who will have to line up and wait by the device before leaving the room. The single largest user group for this design would be the students who will provide emotional feedback. By changing to this method of assessment, pupils will be required to partake in giving feedback at the end of every taught session. This will undoubtedly take more time per week, but will result in qualitative feedback as opposed to traditional quantitative data reaching the teacher, who can then tailor lesson plans, and support individuals that most need it. Parents, teachers and other staff will benefit from more actionable responses that weren’t easily resolved through traditional means of testing. A reduced workload also allows for more time to be allocated to other tasks meaning a higher quality of education for all.

Constraints

Time – We have less than 3 months to compete the research, implementation, review and documentation of the entire project. Cost – The only appreciable costs are hardware components.

Resolution of the Final Prototype

We aim to implement all the features aforementioned and produce a fully working prototype without prioritising visual aesthetics.

Poject Plan

Formal designs

After looking at our prototype specification, we decided to mock up some potential design ideas. At first we came up with this:

This, as our initial proposal, was designed on paper in two dimensions to gain an insight into the mechanical movements and limits to the design. This was quickly followed by a folded paper model that aimed to be true to scale. It was at this point we noticed the lack of a target audience for the data we proposed to display. The decision had been made to hand the implementation from a window in a classroom, but our observations concluded there was little to no need to make use of the device as it added nothing to the environment.

To close this chapter, we completed a 3D drawing using CAD tools.

Design reconvened at this point. A need for specific data was found and a new prototype was developed to fit the more specific purpose.

Week 5 - Project prototyping and specification Pt. 2

After discussing our ideas with Dan, we decided that our prototype lacked focus and didn't fulfill a particular purpose. Because of this we decided to explore other ideas. These other ideas were along the same lines as our original idea in the fact that they would incorporate the window as a shared media surface, however the way that the information itself and the way that it would be displayed will differ.

In order for us to choose a context and a purpose we decided to revisit the idea of a school, as that is the environment that we visited for our field study. After reflecting on the interviews that we conducted, we decided that we should address the issues that were raised by both the staff and the students. The main issue that was reported was the lack of time that teachers have to assess the student's understanding and general opinion and emotions of any given topic. Therefore we decided to peruse the idea of an educational tool that allows the teachers to gauge how well a student is performing in each of their taught subjects.

Week 6 - Initial prototype development

This week we thought about how we needed to refine the idea of where our product would be placed and whether or not we could define its' purpose. We decided to stick with the school environment as we have already done research in this area and can easily identify different issues within the current system. Whilst thinking further about the problems that we want to solve, we came up with an idea to help track how students are feeling about their learning within different subject lessons.

The basic idea is of a device that sits on the window of a door in a classroom and waits for an input. This input would be from a student with an ID card for the school. Once it has identified the student, it will ask for feedback on the current session that has just taken place. Upon entering this feedback, the device will be able to record it and store the data for use by a member of faculty. However, although all of the data will be hidden from student, they will able to see their recent inputs upon using the device.

Once we discovered our new developed idea, we decided to jot down our ideas and try to develop them onto physical pices of paper so that we had set information that we could revisit in the future. Below are some pictures on what we created:

Week 7 - Further Prototype Development

After gathering our ideas last week and having more direction with the project, we made a paper model that to help us visualize how it will look for real. This helped a lot as we were able to identify potential errors with the design such as the positioning of the buttons. We realized that we needed to have sufficient space between the RFID reader and the button above to reduce the risk of the user accidentally pressing the button when they use their ID card. A similar issue was identified with the screen as well. The screen needs to be spaced high enough above the top button to prevent the user blocking the screen if they push the top button. The screen is on a timer so this needed addressing.

Now that we had a model that was to scale we were then able to purchase the materials for the functioning prototype that will be built next week.

Item Quantity Price (inc Delivery)
100x300mm Light Blue Perspex (3mm) 1 £3.50
R,Y,G LED Buttons 3 £11.50
Suction Cups 4 £2
Total £17

While we were experimenting with the paper model we decided to perform a field trial. We placed the paper model into the door window to give us an idea as to how it would look. This worked very well as we managed to see if the dimensions were correct and if the height of the prototype will be correct.

Week 8 - Prototyping & Poster

In order to create the final prototype we all met up at one location to collaborate on the prototype. We began by dividing tasks between the 4 of us. John worked on the hardware and wiring, Jack worked on the programming for the micro controller, James worked on the Excel back-end system and Jake worked on the website.

We spent all day working on our various tasks and most of what we needed to do got done. The system software was completed in good time, the Excel back-end system was finished by mid-day and the website was finished late afternoon. The hardware and wiring aspect took much longer than expected. Work on the actual prototype had to carry on the following day and at the time of writing (Thursday 30th November 2017), it still needs more work. The RFID reader, buttons and buzzer need to be connected to the micro controller. The device still needs a power source (for demonstration purposes we will be using a USB port) and the shell needs to be finished. This should take no longer than 6 hours.

Poster and Group Report

After creating the prototype, we needed to create our poster for the demonstration.

When designing the look of the poster, we wanted it to be obvious what sort of environment and target audience our prototype was focusing on. Because of this, the look of a school book seemed like the perfect choice. A lined piece of paper is mostly associated with work as well which lets you know our product is based on more formal information apposed to informal. Along with this original design, we also looked into how it would look if we made the text of the poster seems as though it was actually written onto the paper. This gave it more of a genuine look.

The next important aspect of creating a successful poster is to include relevant images that are displayed. It was important to display the key aspects of our project so we had to choose which images to include carefully. After some consideration, we decided to use a couple images of our school visit along with a few images of the different stages of prototypes we had produced. This way, the overall story of our project can be understood clearly.

Finally, the content of the poster had to portray the whole process and story of our project. We wanted to create a natural flow to the readability of the poster as well as looking like it was written notes on a piece of paper. The first set of information we needed to show was the overview of our prototype. Then we needed to show our research process and what we learnt from it. After this, we decided to put in our idea stage along with a sketch of a window in order to show what we was focusing on. Finally, we put in an evaluation displaying what we thought about the project and how successful we felt it was.