Course · Human-Computer Interaction

HCI course finalist 4: a device presenting real-time and easily read navigational cues!


Today, I’m presenting the fourth finalist in our basic HCI course at Uppsala University. This finalist group is called “LeapUp” and consists of the master students: Shubhesh Aggarwal, Evan James, Nuruddin Kamil, William Sonesson and Anusha Venkatraman.

Like some other finalist groups, LeapUp focused on simplifying navigation, but they used a separate device instead of AR or haptic feedback. The proposed product, which should be attached to the bike handle, as well as an example screen, are shown in the picture above. Most devices for navigation show e.g. different types of status information, a map and indications for when to change direction (e.g. make a turn). The proposed device only shows the directional cue, in the form of a big arrow, the time, battery status and the estimated time to arrival. The focus is on simplicity and highlighting of the most important information needed for navigation. There is also a notification LED light indicating changes, so there is no need to constantly check for e.g. arrow changes. Apart from the hardware device there is also an accompanying app, where the user e.g. can customize colors and indicate a destination on a map. Thus, all necessary inputs are made on a mobile device before the bike ride starts – during the actual biking activity the device only displays the most necessary information and alerts. There are also some other features in the app, like an option for turning off notifications from e.g. Facebook during the bike ride.

The proposed device and accompanying app focuses on simplicity and seems to be a very good alternative for easy and safe navigation. If you want to read more about the device and the app, as well as the work process, you should take a look at the group’s project blog!

Course · design · Human-Computer Interaction

HCI course finalist 3: a solution for finding bikes to rent at your destination!

Human-Cycling Interaction

So, now time has come to present the third finalist in our basic HCI course. Today’s finalist is the group “Human-Cycling Interaction” and consists of the master students: Jesper Ericsson, Dara Kushnir, Anthony Mathieu, Nam Nguyen, Jules Ruig and Lisanne Wiengarten.

This group did not focus on the actual cycling activity, but rather on the logistics around finding a bike to use while e.g. travelling in other countries. The group designed an app which can be used to locate bikes which are possible to rent (from private persons), at the location you are aiming for. Their solution is similar to Airbnb, but for bikes instead of places to stay. After signing in and choosing location and time interval, a scrollable catalogue of possible bikes to rent is presented. Each bike option in the list contains details such as size, current distance from e.g. city center, status of different equipment and if helmets are included. See the picture above for an example. After having proceeded to order the bike (e.g. rent it during the chosen period), the user can choose to add a number of extra features like insurance, baskets or a helmet. After payment, the order is confirmed and moved to a list of orders made. It is also possible to contact the owner of an ordered bike through a chat feature in the app and there are some other options included as well.

The proposed app adds an important possibility for travelers, since it enables them to find alternatives to often quite expensive public transport solutions like buses and taxis. There are some problems associated with the proposed method and if you want to read more about how the group wants to tackle these and about the work process and prototype development you should definitely take a look at their project blog!

Course · design · Human-Computer Interaction

HCI course finalist 1: enhancing and simplifying the biking experience through augmented reality!


In my last blog post I wrote about the final presentation seminar sessions in the master level HCI course that Mohammad Obaid and I have been running this autumn. Based on the scores that were given to each group (from fellow students and teachers) during those sessions, I was able to select the finalists. See the blog post linked above for an explanation of e.g. the voting. In this, and the upcoming three blog posts, I will briefly introduce the finalists. The finalists will be presented in no specific order and pictures from their project blogs will be used only if it’s ok by the respective groups.

Today’s finalist is the group “Ace that Interface”, consisting of the students Joosep Alviste, Imad Collin, Hassan Odimi, Iosif Kakalelis and Mauro José Pappaterra. They came up with the idea shown in the image above – an augmented reality solution for cyclists. The view has different components, providing information to the user, which are placed in a way so that they should not interfere too much with the cyclist’s field of view. General status information, like temperature, time and heartrate, is placed in the upper left part. In the lower left part you find a map showing the surrounding and your current position and beside the map is a presentation of e.g. your speed. If you have chosen a specific route (in an accompanying app) there are also indicators showing where to turn and the distance you need to move on a specific part of the route (compare with usual GPS solutions in cars or Google maps on phones). The navigation arrow blinks when it changes direction, in order to make sure that the cyclist notes when it’s time to e.g. make a turn. In the accompanying app you can choose which information items you want to show (toggle on/off) in the augmented reality interface, select routes, etc.

This is a somewhat futuristic idea, but it is great and has a lot of potential. It presents (customizable) information which is relevant for the cyclist, without forcing him/her to take the hands off the handles or shifting focus to another device. There is a lot more I can say about this idea and the process the students followed, but since the main documentation medium used in this course is a project blog, I think it’s better that you go there for more detailed information. In this blog you can read more about the project members and the group’s whole process from requirements elicitation to the final design.


Course · design · Human-Computer Interaction · Oral presentation

Final presentations in our basic HCI course

After a few months of project work in our basic HCI course at Uppsala University it was time for final presentations last Friday! During this presentation the project groups should describe their entire process from requirements elicitation and physical prototype development (described in this blog post) to the evaluation with users leading up to the final design. The final prototype should also be presented/demoed.

There were three presentation sessions in total and four groups presented during each session. Each group got 8 minutes for the presentation, after which the audience could ask questions.

I really enjoyed listening to the presentations, which were all very well prepared. All groups have made a very good job when it comes to identifying a problem (related to biking) and designing a solution relevant for a chosen user group and context. In my earlier blog post about the course (linked above) I said that some ideas could probably form the basis for commercial products. After having seen demoes of the final results I still think this could be the case. Some groups actually included a short discussion related to market research in their presentations!

The most important part of the course is the iterative design process and it is very clear from the presentations that the groups understand the different steps and have been able to carry them out in a good way. Now I just hope that the groups will do perfect written presentations of their work, with clear connections to theory, on their project blogs as well!

After each presentation the teachers as well as the students in the other project groups (thus, everyone in the audience) gave the presenting project group a score between 1 (solution has no potential) and 7 (solutions has excellent potential). Tomorrow, I will calculate a mean value for each group. The group with the highest mean value in each seminar session will go to the design final, where a winning group will be chosen by a jury! Next week I will write a series of blog posts about the finalists.

Course · Human-Computer Interaction

Experiences from a prototyping workshop in a basic HCI course

As I have written earlier on this blog, Mohammad Obaid and I are course responsible for a basic HCI course during this autumn. The course focuses on a project, starting with problem definition and requirements elicitation and ending with a redesign of a prototype after an initial evaluation with users. One big difference in this course round compared to earlier ones is that the students are not starting off with an existing interface to evaluate/redesign, but they rather have to design and evaluate a new solution to a problem they identify themselves. This change – to focus more on the process than on interfaces – was inspired by a similar course I ran at KTH the last year I worked there. Each year the projects have a common theme and this year it is “Improving the biking experience”.

One of the new elements that were inspired by the KTH counterpart was a creative prototyping workshop. The workshop, in which students should build physical prototypes with different materials the teacher provided, was very appreciated at KTH but had never been tried before in our course in Uppsala.

Before the workshop both the students and I needed to prepare material. The project groups should prepare simple sketches based on the persona and scenario they had developed during a seminar two weeks earlier. I had to collect different materials that the students should work with during the workshop. The material I brought to the workshop (except for the scissors which were taken by the groups before I took the picture) can be seen in the blog image above.

Each of the three 45 minutes workshop sessions (four project groups participated in each session) started out with a short introduction from me, where I introduced the overall purpose and the material and highlighted the importance of having the persona/scenario in mind while designing. During the remainder of the sessions the students worked with building their prototypes.

Overall, I think the workshop was a success. There was a lot of creativity going on and as far as I could see everyone was involved in discussions and hands-on work during the entire sessions. It is not very often I see this kind of continuous deep engagement during higher education seminars. One group from the second session even stayed during the third one and one group from the third session stayed in the room after everyone else had left! Almost all types of material (except the stapler) was used by at least some of the groups (even the magnets!).

As far as I can understand from what I saw during the workshop sessions, this course element was as appreciated by students in our current course as it was at KTH. We will, however, have to wait until the course evaluations for the final verdict! 🙂

The results of the prototyping sessions clearly showed that the project groups have been successful in identifying relevant problems/users/scenarios. The solutions I saw were creative and it may even be possible to use some of them as basis for commercial products! At the end of the course the students in each seminar group (containing four project groups) will vote for the project group they think has come up with the best design (voting criteria will be defined shortly and it is of course not allowed to vote for one’s own group). The three finalists will later compete for the “best project award”. It will be very interesting to see the final result – as it looks at this point any group can become a finalist!