After selecting a final design and clearly sketching it out on paper, it was time to make our ideas tangible. Prototyping allowed us to put our product in the hands of our users as we gathered feedback. We were able to test the feasibility of different form factors, pill box connecting materials, light sources and writing surfaces. Overall, prototyping brought us one step closer to a polished, user friendly product. This phase of our project included a series of rapid prototypes, user feedback and refined prototypes.
Rapid prototyping is just as it sounds: assembling a model of something very quickly. These low fidelity prototypes were fantastic for testing several design details simultaneously and at low cost. What material is best for connecting pill boxes: magnets or snaps? Glue them both to some cardboard and find out!
Systematically, we created a series of rapid prototypes of our three design components. For our pill boxes, we used small cardboard boxes with binder slips on the lids. Different connecting pieces were glued to the boxes as illustrated in the images bellow.
Next we built a small reminder system, experimenting with ways to wire lights around the writing surface. Bellow you can see how we moved from a bare bones whiteboard with lights to a slightly more polished cardboard version for user feedback.
Finally, we mocked up some content pages for our medication journal and glued them to the pages of an existing notebook. We used this to test line spacing and the applicability of preformatted content.
To showcase how each of these pieces work together, we created a short demo video using rapid prototypes. This video was later shown to potential users for feedback.
Using gloves, clouded glasses and a distracting soundtrack, we tested our rapid prototypes with consideration for our users who may have reduced sense of touch, vision impairments and/or mild cognitive impairments. This empathy testing allowed us to put ourselves in the shoes of our users and maximize the usability of our design.
Interestingly, we found that Lego pieces were the most effective concept for connection. They were easy to connect and had a tight hold due to their large surface area. When wearing our modified glasses (intended to simulate Glaucoma and Cataracts) we were also surprised to find that a small LED on each box was also more visible than the EL wire that we had previously favored. These testing tools likewise reinforced the importance of maximizing space for labels written in larger text. Although, the light in individual pill compartments greatly alleviated the challenge of reading labels with impaired vision.
In order to get feedback on our design, we created a video demonstrating how the product works. We then ran focus groups and sent emails to potential users where we explained our product, showed the demo video, and asked questions for feedback. The questions we asked were:
- What, if anything, do you like about this product?
- What, if anything, do you dislike about this product?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving this product?
- Do you see yourself using this in real life? Why or why not?
- Do you think the pillbox, reminder system, and notebook work well together? Why or why not?
We reached out to users from our target audience for feedback. However, in order to maximize the amount of feedback that we received in a very short amount of time, we also reached out to members of a more general audience: anyone who takes at least one medication regularly, regardless of whether they suffer from memory loss.
Overall, participants responded positively to the MedMem system. However, improvements including larger label slips were integrated in our refined prototypes.
One lesson that we learned while creating refined prototypes is that there is more than one way to convey an idea. Originally, our team decided that 3D printing was ideal modeling our Lego style snap system. Unfortunately, the 3D printers that we had access to were not precise enough for the job. Lids came out the wrong size and the snaps did not fit together. Testing a different snap styles proved more troublesome. The printer was unable to render the finer details of the snap.
After several failed printing attempts we took a step back and discovered another method to build the pillbox. We laser cut acrylic and built up pill boxes in layers. Instead of our snap design, we added clear Velcro circles to simply convey the idea of connection.
Our reminder system is a laser cut mat board panel mounted on foam and strung with lights. Buttons are made from clay and a small clock is taped into the slot for an LCD screen.
Our medication journal was revised from our original templates. While they are elegantly simple, integrating color and icons improved the visual design from our previous iteration. We had them professionally bound to improve the fidelity and provide a more realistic experience for our users.