Workshop Design and Interaction Cards

IoT Workshop and interview design with ageing participants.

Recently myself and a PhD student designed a series of interviews and workshops to focus on interconnected technologies within the home. When approaching the design of Internet of Things objects, care must be taken to bring people on a journey of what is possible.

Designing with people is the design frame I’ve grown up with. As a designer you bring the ‘what’s possible’ and ‘how could we build that’, and the people you design with bring their experiences and the ‘why’. Together this process of mutual learning is a winning combination for interaction design.

Overview:The day was divided into two sections, the first half focusing on objects within the home, the second half focusing on spaces and how they are used. Various tried and tested tools were used, such as affinity sorting, as well as newly developed methods for object role-plays (to capture perceived interconnectivity), and card prompts to stimulate discussion (see below).

Outcome:The workshops were transcribed and analysed using an iterative ‘coding’ approach. Some of the interesting things to come out of this workshop were:
- The pressures of downsizing on older people’s technology preferences.
- Fears around leaving technology too late to learn, and social implications for reliance on some technologies.

One of the tools developed for use in these co-design workshops was a set of cards that prompted people to consider the relationships between objects.

Impetus: During the early iterations of our workshop, we found that people were designing objects that could communicate to people, but not other objects. For example, a washing machine that could tell you to call a plumber if there was a leak, rather than turn the pipe off that the leak was coming from.

Outcome: These cards proved to be a useful tool in changing the conversation to include object to object designs. It prompted conversations around the role of people in an increasingly busy world. Which interactions do people feel they need to be involved in, and which actions can take place out of sight?