Increasingly, a product niche has formed for digital tablets in the consumer electronics market. It is rare however, to find users who exclusively make use of tablets for reading, writing, Internet browsing needs and etc. Typically, users will carry around laptop computers, traditional paper products and tablets in order to adequately fulfill all of their needs.
Samsung sponsered two student products in Introduction to New Product Development to create product concepts focused one specific user group: college students.
The Leaf is a foldable, paper-like e-display screen with digital functionality that can be reconfigured to different workspace sizes and layouts. This product concept aims to seamlessly integrate user experiences associated with traditional paper products and electronic devices.
Two approaches were used to generate insight about user needs: personal interviews and user observation. 22 college students of various ages and college disciplines were interviewed regarding the following topics:
-electronic device usage
-traditional paper usage
-digital versus paper preference
During user observation, student work spaces were observed in order to gain insight how students navigated the various mediums during study sessions. It was typical to find workflows that involved paper textbooks, e-textbooks, online resources, personal laptops and etc. Student notebooks and other personal study materials were scrutinized to see different organizing frameworks individuals had for notetaking and school work
From user research, the top five following needs were determined:
-tactile, sensory experience
-intuitive use/ease of access
-preservation of handwriting quality
Approximately 100 concepts were generated to address the five user needs ascertained during research. Concepts ranged from electronic display tabletops, sixth-sense technology clothing, and etc. After using a concept ranking and scoring algorithm, two top concepts were considered: a foldable e-display screen or a portable digital interface projector. These two concepts were presented at various student events to generate user feedback. The ultimate concept that was selected was a foldable e-display screen.
To further refine the concept, low-fidelity prototyping user scrap paper was completed by exploring various folding techniques. The primary feature in question was how to configure and fold e-paper screens.
Medium fidelity prototyping was performed using cardboard to make a more convincing product that was utilized to screen for user feedback. The realism of a medium fidelity cardboard prototype allowed for usability tests and motion interaction observations with the product concept.
A final protoype was later created with foam core board and vellum.
Anothe iteration of user feedback and surveys were completed to obtain the final product concept: the Leaf. The Leaf is a tri-fold e-paper display screen. There are various modes and configurations allowing users to have portability and versatility in creating a workspace. Ultimately, the folding feature will address the various study and workspace needs to students, allowing them to unfold into the workspace that best suits there needs.
Additional features further address students needs:
-matter, flexible surface for paper mimicry
-collaborative features (Wifi S-Beam, physical linking up of tablets for collaborative surface)
-recoil pen stylus to mimic tactile feedback of pen on paper