In my undergraduate design course that focused on the interactions between people, artifacts, and environments, our group was tasked to postulate a ‘What If…?’ question that explores the use of mobile device cameras and to design a future experience for it.
Inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, lidar sensors, and physical therapy, we designed a remote physical therapy (PT) platform that would allow patients to do physical therapy confidently at home.
In collaboration with a local physical therapist, our goal as a team was to communicate a design that could help therapists accurately assign exercise programs to their patients remotely, and understand their needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. After interviewing the physical therapist, we found that proper guidance on exercises was the key component for successful therapy. In order to do this, we articulated that capable video capture and visual feedback were the core needs in order for patients to do PT at home. We thought of designing an experience that utilized smartphone lidar sensors to help track and accurately measure a patient’s exercises.
We aimed to design an experience that was familiar to patients, using every day technologies that can provide movement tracking and display information. The challenge was communicating how a patient could connect different devices together seamlessly. Through trial and error, we designed an interface that utilizes a smartphone, TV, and a motion tracking stand.
Once we created our interactions, we had to tell the story of our design. In order to do that, we needed to create the necessary interfaces. First, we created a scenario and told the story of a physical therapist setting up a program for their patient. The physical therapist selects exercises that gets sent to a patient's phone, then the patient pairs their phone to their TV and motion tracking stand and completes the exercises.
After crafting the scenario, we designed interfaces that would communicate our interactions, technologies, and interfaces working together. First, I designed a feature that would allow therapists to configure and build PT programs for their patients.
Our scenario depicts a patient receiving their PT exercises on the their smartphone, giving them an overview of the program and the ability to start the program on the TV.
We communicated our patient exercise interactions through TV mockups. The TV would display a quick demo of the exercise before prompting the patient to say ‘start’. Once the exercise has started, a display of sets and repetitions is shown and patients are prompted to do the exercise.
Our design presentation and final video was shown to our professor and our physical therapist. Our professor praised our design as having the potential to be a real product, and encouraged us to pursue it further. Our physical therapist also expressed interest in using the platform with their patients, and encouraged us to consider implementation.
This project taught me the importance of decision making behind UI elements. Due to the short timeframe for the project I did not have time for multiple rounds of design iteration. If I were to redo the UI design, I would want to conduct additional usability tests to better quantify the usefulness of the experience. Our color choice was also not the most accessible as we randomly decided on a color to move forward with. Regardless, I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, but there was definitely a lot of room for more UI testing.