Ice Water Swimmer: User-Oriented Collaborative Design
(Olin College of Engineering)
My team and I started this project to design a product, service or concept for a user group that we had no prior knowledge of, similar to a client project that we would encounter in the real world. We chose Ice Water Swimmers, commonly known as Polar Bear Swimmers, who open water swim during the winter. We utilized ethnographic, user-oriented and collaborative methods to deeply understand user values and living-patterns. The skills I gained from this project, afford me the ability to make decisions about what to build, based on what will have the most impact for users. Using technology that would be commercially available in 5-10 years, my team and I designed and prototyped a product that met the dreams and aspirations of our users.
Our final product, Trayner, was a swimming device that helped open water swimmers track their self improvement by collecting real-time data and increasing the swimmer's comfort level in the water. The team behind Trayner spent several intensive weeks observing, interviewing, and analyzing open water swimmers. We iterated through the design process many times, striving to take into account the swimmer’s needs, values and feedback.
My team's goals are listed below, followed by the tangible skills we utilized to accomplish each. Topics covered include user research, concept development and interaction design including usability engineering.
Explore User Values: Engage users in their own context through in person interviews, to develop an appreciation and understanding of their lives.• People Portraits
• Word Mood Cards
• Interaction Narratives
• Areas of Opportunity
Conceptualize Ideas: Establish bold product/service ideas through lateral thinking, participatory engagement with user groups, and a narrative way of considering human values.
• Raw Ideas
• User Scenarios
• Act out ideas with props to co-design with users
• Synthesize their experiences.
Develop Products: Develop an overall experience for products (and services) in a holistic human-centered way, by focusing on the functionality, interaction, and character.
• Function, Interaction, and Character (F.I.C.) Maps
• Broad Interaction Maps
• Product Sketches
• Visual Product Poster
• Rough Foam Core Model