.: 14 December 2014 :.

Forestry 2020 : Research & Ideation

For the last weeks I have been working with my awesome teammates Anton and Aylin (a.k.a Dreamteam) on the Forestry 2020 project.
The goal of the project is to design a highly automated, costly effective interface for the professional context. More specifically, the end users of our interface will be forwarder machine operators. The forwarder machine collects the logs after the harvester has cut them down. My team focuses on redesigning the interaction with the crane that is used during loading and unloading.

Just as with my first Guitars Project, I will divide the contents of the project into two blogposts. This post describes the first half of the project.

Forest Visit

What better way to start a forestry project by going to the forest? On a very early morning we jumped in the car and were brought about 100 km north of Umea. There we had the opportunity to talk to machine operators and we even got behind the steering wheels ourselves (!). This visit was very valuable for developing a first understanding of the context.

During the second week we processed much of the information we collected during our visit. We used various tools to achieve this, such as by doing task analysis.

Task

In order to fully understand the controls, we had the opportunity to try the experience simulator. Awesome! Operating the crane was surprisingly difficult and counter intuitive. The main reason is that the joystick movements are mapped to the pivots instead of the crane tip.

Simulator

Envisioning

I really liked the amount of freedom we got to redefine the design brief. Based on the research we did we developed a broader vision. This vision included many topics. Firstly, we proposed a certain relationship of the operator and the machine. Besides that, we envisioned the impact of automation on the operator’s experience and his satisfaction.

Ideation

To me, the ideation stage is all about having fun, which we definitely had! Very important for the outcome were the rounds of warming up at the beginning of each session. We asked ourselves crazy questions starting with “What if..” ,such as: “What if there was a Halloween party in the forest?” and “What if there was no gravity in the cabin?”. These rounds really helped us to open up and get crazy.

Soon we started exploring some ideas we liked by prototyping. We tried out various forms of prototyping ranging from acting out to making video prototypes.

ideation

Only after we got crazy we started to reflect on and evaluate the outcome. Our design brief which we defined previously, was an important factor in deciding which direction to continue. We noticed that current and future drivers have the same motivation for choosing that profession. They love the experience of controlling a heavy machine and they like being in the forest on their own.

Concept

We noticed that because of expected developments in relation to automation and comfort, these motives will not be satisfied in the future. Therefore our concept aims to restrengthen the connection of the driver with the machine and with nature. A secondary goal is to get the driver into a state of “flow” which leads to more efficient and continuous crane movements. We achieve this by introducing two machine states: the manual state and the nature state. We have many ideas on how to express these two states.

The machine starts in the manual state in which the driver has full control. This stage is all about power, strength, etc. The machine feel really heavy. The better the driver performs and the longer he performs repetitive tasks, the quicker he enters the nature state. The sound of the engine turns of, the light in his cabin goes down and he become one with nature.

Midterm Presentation

For the presentation halfway the project we showed our process, vision and final concept. We challenged ourselves to show the driver’s experience by giving a live demo. We built a low fidelity machine cabin and using a lot of Wizard of Oz we managed to achieve this. We expressed the manual and nature states through various modulates such as hearing and feeling.

More details on the presentation will be covered in the next blogpost!

Me

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