Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Posts Tagged ‘design thinking

Remote user research – Intel industry project

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Here are further notes on generating insights from user research to inspire design concepts for the CIID-Intel industry project titled ‘The Social Collective as an Agent of Behavioral Change’. Doing background research on the concept of the smart grid, my teammate Mimi and I found ourselves in an fascinating conversation about how urban residents in our native countries South Korea and India seemed to perceive the idea of sustainable and energy efficient housing. We thought this was a very interesting target audience to explore further and design for.

Given a very short period of time (less than a week) to conduct user research to inspire us in our solutions, we decided to conduct online interviews with people we could reach in South Korea and India. The exercise was simple: address the issue of energy efficiency in urban residential apartment complexes and try to understand how aware people were of the concern, how they associated it with in their daily lives, and if they actually participated in making any sustainable energy choices.

In order to set the context, we used simple videos available from publicly available content online. The subjects were asked to watch a video (like the one shown below, made by one of my favorite design firms Xplane) and then take an open, informal online interview on Skype. Using an online tool like Skype helped tremendously as it was easy to work in multiple modes, exchanging links or references and text, while also speaking freely at length.

After setting the context for sustainability in general and energy efficiency in particular, we were able to dive in further with specific questions like:

  • Do you know the concept of a ‘green building’ or ‘sustainable construction’ ?
  • Do you know anyone who owns or lives in a ‘sustainable’ home or construction?
  • What are the points that are most energy-intensive in your apartment block or society?
  • What are the points that are least energy-intensive in your apartment block or society?
  • Are there energy costs that you think you can share with your fellow apartment or society residents?
  • How much do you think you can save on energy by changing the design of your apartment and the materials in it?
  • Which gadgets in your home do you think consume the most power?
  • Which gadgets in your home do you consider most dispensable?
  • Which gadgets in your home do you consider least dispensable?

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

Why envision the future?

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Bill Verplank raised this fascinating question when critiquing our concepts for the ‘Cartoon House – Envisioning Future Homes’ exercise at CIID.
I can think of at least two solid reasons that makes envisioning the future a valuable practice for .. anyone interested in the future 🙂 The first is an over-used cliche – making sense of the “accelerating pace of change”. I don’t have much to elaborate here, but can point to at least one man who has explained (hypothesized?) with great eloquence what such accelerating change can mean in the span of our very lifetimes. I give you Mr. Ray Kurweil and his badass book The Singularity is Near
For me, envisioning the future is so very cool because of this – envision the future, and then look back to the present through the lens of that future. It fundamentally changes how you see the world around you today. Imagine that whole bunch of disinterested people who went about their lives paying no heed to what was happening around them when powerful, history-shaping concepts came along – like christianity and buddhism, or electricity and the telephone – ideas that didn’t seem like much at the time, but move some centuries forward, and oh boy! its the stuff we live by … Kinda gets you thinking about what wifi and wikis will mean in a hundred years, right? 

Written by Ashwin Rajan

November 23, 2008 at 10:23 pm