Pardon the mess! This page is still a work-in-progress, but feel free to poke around and see what I have so far!

Stellar

A night light board that facilitates meaningful connection with loved ones from a distance.

Problem Space

For this project, we were tasked to design a product that would facilitate social connectedness in an isolated world. When we were working on this project, the world was still very much in the thick of the pandemic. At that point in time, lots of people had been separated from their loved ones for months on end, leaving them with feelings of loneliness and the desire to connect with their loved ones again. In addition to this prompt, our product had to have both a physical interface and digital interface and one of our stakeholder groups needed to be children.

Design Response

Video

Walkthrough (WIP)

Onboarding

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Send a Constellation

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Send an Animation

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Profile

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Ideation

Background Research

To start off, we did a bit of background research. We collected 10 previous works done in this space of technology-mediated social connectedness to get some inspiration for our own project. We analyzed each work and then drew out some high-level themes.

View full Background Research doc

Sketches

Using our background research as inspiration, we brainstormed our own ideas for technology-mediated solutions for social connectedness. As a team, we generated 63 concept sketches in total.

Downselection

We started the downselection process by dot voting as a team on ideas that we thought could be interesting to explore further, while also keeping feasibility in mind. After dot voting, we were left with 23 concepts.

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To help us downselect further, we parsed the remaining concepts in several different ways. We placed concepts onto a prioritization matrix to rate each on feasibility and desirability. We also sorted concepts by high-level themes or categories. We also each picked out 3 concepts that we were personally most excited about.

We ended up with 10 concepts that we then polished up, giving a description of what each concept is as well as a description of how the interaction might work. These 10 concepts were then shared with the rest of our class. Our peers and instructors dot voted on their favorite concepts of ours and provided feedback.

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From this peer feedback, we narrowed down the 10 concepts to our final 2, which were the Constellation Night Light and the Pregnancy Belt.

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Prototyping

Video Prototypes

To better convey these two concepts, we created video prototypes for each. We came up with a short script for each, which I used to sketch a few storyboards to plan out our shots. We filmed our footage and recorded voiceovers and produced our two video prototypes.

Constellation Night Light video prototype.
Pregnancy Belt video prototype.

Video Prototype Feedback

We grouped together ideas that were similar to each other into larger concepts or themes. After grouping, we were more easily able to vote on concepts that best aligned with our design values while also being feasible for us to build.

In the end, we were left with a small set of ideas and groupings that we were able to combine together into a single concept, which would go on to become QuLab.

Physical Prototype

We put together a storyboard to illustrate the key moments someone within our target audience would experience when interacting with our design.

The final version of our storyboard, made by sketching on top of stock images.

Future Work

Safety and Inclusion Efforts

If we had more time on this project, we’d like to focus on safety and inclusion efforts. Women and other marginalized groups are often the target of harassment and abuse on online platforms, so we want to ensure our users’ safety. What we have in mind so far to help achieve this safe space is to create a code of conduct and a moderation system to enforce this code of conduct. In addition, we would like to develop a system of vetting users before they can join the platform in order to keep bad actors out. As our community grows, we want to be able to provide additional curation to create safe spaces for other marginalized communities.

Providing More Options For Involvement

We’d also like to further expand the options for involvement and provide more opportunities to users at various stages in their quantum computing careers.

User Testing

Of course, we would also like to continue testing and refining our prototypes, as we did not quite have the time to do any involved user tests.

Assessing Long-Term Efficacy

On a related note, since a user’s engagement with QuLab would generally be pretty long-term, we’d like to identify factors to assess the long-term efficacy of the platform.

Reflection

Despite this project being the culmination of all that we learned throughout our Master’s program, there were definitely some challenging moments and things we didn’t expect.

Adjusting Our Problem Space

We grappled with a lot of ambiguity, especially in the Research half of development and we ended up adjusting our problem space quite a bit as we learned more through our research.

Grappling with Scope

We also grappled a lot with scope. What we were dealing with was essentially a wicked problem, so we really had to narrow down to make this problem space more manageable. But even still we often found ourselves asking questions like, Who is this for exactly? What about these kinds of users? Should we only focus on these people? This project really challenged us to put stakes in the ground and make decisions in order to not hem and haw over these questions forever.

Role as a Discussion Piece

In the end, we designed a product that maybe isn’t the most viable thing in the world. But I think there’s still quite a lot of value in it as a discussion piece. When people talk about quantum computing, issues of diversity don’t really get discussed that much. Even if this project isn’t something that would realistically take off as a platform, it can still raise awareness about these very real problems in the industry.