This project is from my time in Interactive Media III, a course within the Digital Design program at the University of Colorado, Denver. We were tasked with designing a connected environment that enables a user to hand off a singular digital experience between multiple devices. These devices included an Amazon Echo, a mobile app experience, an additional digital form factor of our choosing, and a conceptualization of an as-yet Alexa-infused product. The final deliverable for this project was a Wizard of Oz demo of the new connected UX environment.
The connected UX environment I chose to pursue is a new Alexa service that allows you to send and receive messages from your therapist between appointments, from anywhere. The goal of this service was to create a way for customers to connect with their therapist between in-person sessions, as issues may arise, rather than waiting until their next scheduled appointment. This was designed around busy individuals who want to receive the benefits of therapy but may not have the time to commit to frequent in-person sessions.
Project Timeframe: 5 weeks
I was the only individual working on this project and was responsible for the experience strategy and design, research, and development of this connected UX environment and Alexa skill. I had some experience working with voice user interface design from a previous project in this class, Pet Pantry. I also had much experience with connected UX Design from my time working with Sphero. However, designing for this project in particular was a bit unique.
With so many interaction points, I had to create a seamless experience between the use of the Amazon Echo, companion app, wearable, and car display. There was also major considerations on the users' safety and privacy within the entirety of the experience. Since I did not have the abilities to build this project to completion, much of the design and testing was done via concept validation and Wizard of Oz displays.
Adobe XD, Illustrator & Photoshop
Amazon Echo & AWS Lambda
This project began with creating press releases for our intended products. The process of creating a press release enabled us to think about the final product in the eyes of a company or product owner. While this is typically done towards the end of product development, constructing the press release at the beginning of the project helped to put the concept in perspective and guide its design.
The press release would act as a sort of design brief for the continuation of the project by giving direct and pertinent information.
DEVICES & THE USER
The wearable tracks heart rate data and sends this information to the user’s therapist. This is an opt-in feature of Discuss It and helps therapists pinpoint the user’s most stressful moments during their day/week/month/etc. in order to formulate more specific treatment plans. Technologies required would be existing wearables that already track this information, pairing with them, and creating the software platform. Another option is to create a Discuss It wearable, similar to a FitBit, with sensors and a software program that would do what is mentioned above.
The car display experience is similar to the Amazon Echo. Users are able to receive notifications, if they opt-in to this, and they are able to send voice recordings. They are also able to view conversational materials on the car display. The software for this component would require driving detection sensors so users are not recording while driving or looking at their display for conversational materials. Of course, it also requires the user to have a car display in the first place.
The Amazon Echo allows users to receive notifications when their therapist sends a message back. This is also opt-in and allows the user to receive these notifications as quickly as possible. For example, the user’s phone may be in the other room or on silent, but the Echo would be able to notify them and play the voice message on the spot rather than making the user go get their phone and see the notification or hear the recording later. This would require specific software which allows voice recordings to be played through the Echo as well as notifications to be received as they come in. Of course, it also requires the hardware of the Echo.
The mobile app contains all conversational materials (for reference) as well as the ability to record voice or video, send photos, and type entries to the user’s therapist. This allows the user to send entries of any kind from anywhere. If the user is in an awkward situation, but would still like to send an entry to their therapist, they have the option to type it rather than say it out loud. The software required for this would be similar to text messaging, however an app would be built out and there would be added features for organization. This software would also need to be very secure, as patients would not want their information to be available to anyone.
This product is important to users who have busy schedules or feel they require more time with their therapist than they are currently getting. They are able to talk about issues as they arise and receive guidance faster so they can go on with their lives rather than waiting for their next in-person session. Users would need to feel safe with this product. There cannot be any way for other people to view the user’s conversational material. They would also need to have options for every feature offered. For example, some users may not want notifications from their Echo in case someone else is around, etc. Making the user feel safe and comfortable is the number one priority in this situation. The patient and therapist will also be able to dive deeper during in-person sessions since the issue has already been brought up.
I sent out a survey in order to gather demographic information as well as inquire about the project concept. I wanted to find out how many individuals would use this type of service and what improvements could be made this early in its development.
50% | 4 out of 8 survey participants say they would want this service:
“Sounds pretty useful...seeing a therapist would be cool and it seems like this would help our relationship.”
“Seems like it could be used during sessions or as a supplement to therapy.”
“The wearable sounds really neat. It would be cool to get pinged every time my stress levels increased, as a reminder to relax or to be aware of something that was causing the stress. I could also use that data to better talk with a therapist and have more data to pinpoint where and why my stressors are.”
1 Therapist was Interviewed:
“The potential of this is amazing! There might be liability issues for practitioners, though. If I’m in a meeting and cannot respond to a potential suicide message, how do you navigate around those high risk situations? If that happens [in the office], we have people on staff that are available to speak with them about the situation, even if it’s not me. Maybe patients are screened so that high risk individuals do not have access to the service. Only if you can’t figure out a way to accommodate this issue. This is where the future is going, so we need to get on board somehow and figure out how to use it. The activities section would be especially helpful for trauma therapists! If my client has a Fitbit on during a session, I like to ask what their heart rate data is in the moment. Including that feature is a really great addition.”
Include activities in-app and possibly play these automatically through the Echo at certain times
Make client privacy the top priority
Avoid possible dependency manifestations
Disclaimers - “This is never to be used in an emergency...If you need more immediate help, contact other resources...”
Meet with DORA, APA, AAMFT, and Director of Student Counseling at Auraria about options and HIPPA compliance
$60k-$120k annual income
Meets with her therapist once/month
Is extremely detail oriented
Lives alone with one pet
Drives 45 minutes to work everyday
Only has one day off a month; works 40-50 hours/week
Has high anxiety that prevents her from socializing outside work
Over analyzes what people say or do when they are around her
Needs & Goals
Wants to be able to talk about her issues as they arise instead of waiting an entire month to speak to her therapist
Wants a seamless experience where she can talk about her issues at any time, without worrying about what technology she has ready
Wants the ability to type/text something up in case there are people around with one place for all conversation material
Wants to take full advantage of therapy and what she can gain from it, regardless of her crazy schedule
Once the concept was validated (taking other feedback into consideration), I began sketching and creating the paper prototype.
This would be the basis for the final UI Design as I did not have time for intensive user testing.
FINAL FEATURES & UI DESIGN
The main feature of this product was the ability to communicate with a doctor or therapist from anywhere. However, additional features were added that would also benefit my target demographic and their interactions with these individuals. For example, while working with a therapist, the patient is usually given certain activities to try in order to improve their mood. This adds to their treatment plan and is included within this project as a means to input and track these activities. Community resources were also added to give the user as much information as possible while staying in one app.
Home Screen: Messages
Activities: Recommended by Doctors
Account & Settings
FINAL DEMO VIDEO
The demo video for this project took a lot of smoke screen tactics. First, I built out an Alexa skill demo in order to record the correct responses. Then I shot some video of what an interaction with this product could look like as well as a walk-through of the prototype. I layered the videos and sound recordings to produce a Wizard of Oz type demo video.