For this project, my team and I wanted to focus on how to encourage energy savings. Our user group was young people who are living together in a home. The users were trying to conserve energy, save money, and be eco-friendly. They were also trying to accomplish these tasks while cooperating with other household members. A system was needed to address the numerous challenges users faced in trying to accomplish these goals.
This project began as an idea from Thad Starner, a professor at Georgia Tech credited for creating Google Glass. The concept was to think of how a desktop window management system could exist in the AR/VR space. Before this implementation could happen, we decided to work out the movements in a bigger space, using a 4000K TV to test our prototype. If successful, we could then transfer the prototype to a smaller AR space. The window management itself was a layout of 8 screens surrounding a center screen. Head tracking could be used to switch between screens and the study was focused on whether people could notice changes in the edge windows without affecting performance in their main task.
Firstly, we conducted a literature review to find out what similar systems existed. Then we started coding a prototype. I chose videos to use in the edge screens. I needed to think of cases where a desktop user would be notified of a change (i.e. code finishes compiling, user receives an email notification). When the prototype was complete, we were able to begin user testing. We used Malcolm Haynes' Sherlock Holmes reading task as the user's main task. A user had to indicate how many times a rhyme occurred in a Sherlock Holmes passage. They also had to indicate if they noticed a change in their periphery.
I worked with a team of coders and Thad Starner, who served as a mentor, on this project. I took on the role of user study designer and researcher.
I learned about conducting user studies, I learned hardware prototyping (soldering for attaching head tracking sensor, laser cutting for a piece of plastic to keep user's head in place), and I learned a bit of statistical analysis at the end of the study.
This project is a part of ongoing research. However, we did find that having minimized windows did not significantly worsen a user's performance on their main task and they were still able to notice some notifications.