d.tools: Reflective Physical Prototyping

d.tools: Reflective Physical Prototyping


This video introduces D-Tools, a tool that
enables rapid and reflective prototyping of physical user interfaces. As computing leaves
our desktops and enters out world, the number of use of interfaces with novel, physical
form factors and advanced sensor input is growing quickly. D.Tools is the first system that offers integrated
support for designing, testing and analyzing early prototypes that bridge the world of
bits and atoms. The following scenario shows how designers can rapidly build and evaluate
with D.Tools. Sam is an interaction designer who wants to
create a novel map navigation interface for a handheld GPS device based on orientation
sensors. He connects a small LCD screen for display and an accelerometer to the D.Tools
hardware interface kit. As he plugs in physical components, virtual counterparts appear in
the D.Tools authoring environment on his PC. Sam then authors interactions by creating
visual states, which encapsulate output and linking them through transitions which get
triggered by hardware input events. In this example, Sam is authoring map zooming through
button presses. To help his work with analog sensors, Sam
can author transitions by demonstrating them in physical space. Here, he is setting thresholds
for an accelerometer by tilting it and setting limits in the live data view, using the keyboard.
At any point, he can try out his interaction model by using the attached hardware inputs.
Or by simulating such hardware input on the PC. After trying out some initial interaction
ideas, Sam designs a more durable prototype to test different interactions with office
mates and users. To increase the realism of the test, he asks Jim, a programmer’s office,
to add navigation of a live map database. Jim attaches a few lines of Java to different
states in order to remote control the Google Maps application. This is an example of how d.tools can be used
to create mash up prototypes, an approach that is becoming increasingly common. In test mode, d.tools records all user interactions
with the prototype . Simultaneously recording a timed synchronized video stream of the users
interaction with the device. The video is automatically structured through
state transitions and input events. During the test, the designer can also annotate segments
of the video for later review. Switching from test to analyze mode, Sam sees
an overview of the interaction model during the last test. This aggregate view shows which
transitions were taken most frequently, and which ones were never reached during the test. In analyze mode, the state chart is synchronized
with the video interface, allowing our designers to replay the user’s interactions and parallel
with the video Visualize time-line events as they appear in the state chart, and quickly
jump to video of particular states, both through the state chart and through the physical prototype.
Multiple categories can be selected, allowing a designer to pinpoint at particular interaction
by replaying it on the device. Multiple test sessions can be combined into
a video spreadsheet, which can be used for rapid, comparative evaluation. Individual
clips can be played simultaneously. Clips can also be triggered by clicking on the corresponding
event on the time-line. Additionally, clicking on a column plays a single category for comparison
across all users. We employed three different methods to understand
the interaction and architectural approaches embodied in D Tools. We evaluated the threshold
with the first-use study with 13 participants. The ceiling through rebuilding prototypes
for existing and emerging devices and naturalistic use through longitudinal deployment in an
HCI class. Projects build with d.tools by students and
authors include a digital camera interface with a large number of buttons to navigate
images and menus on a color LCD screen, a sensing PDA that can detect portrait and landscape
mode, scroll by tilting the and plays voice memos when held up to the face. A color mixing
interface where children can pour color from tangible buckets onto an LCD screen and then
use that color in a painting application. Tangible drawers that offer access to personal
data on an interactive multi-user table. We have released d-tools to the design community
as open source

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