User Tests in Stockholm

Here are some pics from the user tests in Stockholm conducted Mar 13th/09.

warmup app to touchscreen, creating butterfly's

warmup app to touchscreen, creating butterfly's

The Warmup App was quite successful in the sense that all 6 tested children with cognitive disabilities understood what it did quite quickly and were able to identify the mushroom as an interface item which reset the whole screen.

Something that failed in this app and must be something to keep in mind when authoring future applications is that once the butterfly’s were multiplied into many objects (100+) the graphics slowed down the flash player and got caught in the computer’s memory as Flash was referencing the objects. This greatly reduced speed and responsiveness of the application and created delayed feedback resulting in immediate frustration.

interacting together

interacting together

Animation as Reward: This seemed to work as a good motivator in this 2nd prototype titled Caterpillar. Again everyone understood the mushroom interface element as a reset button.

a slightly harder program, requiring more accuracy

a slightly harder program, requiring more accuracy

Connecting the Dots Game: This was intentionally created to be more difficult in order to test a combination of patience, finer motoric skills and the ability to solve a problem of connecting dots to get to the reward (animation of a butterfly flapping its wings).

This prototype also brought up the notion of timing interface elements. The goal in this particular game was to complete all the dots to get to the whole butterfly shape, but there were several instances where the reset button was pressed while someone was in the process of conducting the task. This (as you may have guessed) resulted in frustration. What might have been better here is to show the reset interface item (mushroom) only when the task has been completed.

On a side note, a single touch screen does not support dragging, and surprisingly this was an interaction that most of the children had attempted.

using fists when the program is not responding

using fists when the program is not responding

Learn by seeing: In one instance Ester started to naturally use her fist but when she noticed all the other children interacting with their index finger she started doing the same. One child also used his middle finger a little bit but reverted back to the index finger.

Multiple children: using the same system resulted in these interesting teaching/learning collaborations between them but also resulted in some children being more dominant of the others assuming roles of ‘advanced user’ and taking more control. The others that were perhaps a bit quieter by nature (Amanda) lost interest under these circumstances and sort of stepped aside. This made me want to try the screen and some of the applications on her without the presence of the other children.

touching an interface icon to reset the program

touching an interface icon to reset the program

Once the other children were ushered out of the room Amanda was left in peace to interact with the device on her own. In the beginning I got the feeling that she was exploring the environment of the screen, but once she discovered the interactive elements, she had absolutely no problems touching the caterpillars, turning them into butterfly’s and resetting the system. Even the connect the dots game didn’t seem to be too much of a challenge.

Amanda demonstrated quick learning/adaptation qualities and this would be certainly more interesting to explore the possibilities. I wasn’t the only person surprised by Amanda’s ability. Her teachers were also watching rather intently and were quite taken by the whole experience. One of them even said “I have been doing this a long time but it’s nice when your kids surprise you with their abilities”

Sven triggering animations using his voice

Sven triggering animations using his voice

The Sound App: At first it was tricky for the children to understand the transition from touchscreen app to a sound driven app. All the kids tried to touch the screen, expecting something to happen. Eventually the teachers stepped in and asked them to use only their voice. After that moment it started to work. The kids seemed to find it entertaining and were forming non-sensical phrases in order to trigger the animations.

I think having a physical artifact like a microphone, could come in handy here and would give the children a visual cue on what to focus on.

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~ by fighterfish on March 16, 2009.

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