With the prevalence of wearable devices, numerical fitness data like heart rate (with unit of BPM) and steps could be easily accessed.
Out of our own interest, we wondered what the numbers on these devices mean to users? Would they change user behaviors?
I conducted 5 interviews ranging from frequent users to non-users for various fitness devices to further explore our design space. There are some key takeaways:
How Might We enable users without professional medical knowledge to make self-reflection upon their physical activities by creating an artwork?
After getting familiar with the mechanical structures of the robots, we followed a top-bottom approach to break down our feature and the very first step is to enable our doodle robot move its arm(s). With limited material and time, we decided to go with the single arm like Paul the robot rather than AxiDraw plotter robot.
Initially with the idea of capturing the changes on the doodles, we chose spirographs as models because small changes on the radiuses of the circle in formula could yield dramatic changes. However, it also led to the difficulty of interpreting the doodle -- which indicates increasing heart rate and which indicates the opposite? The infinite combinations of the spirograph made it impossible to guide users for self-reflection given the unpredictable using time.
In order to minimize the interference that our data collecting device might cause, we chose PPG (Photoplethysmogram, widely used by most portable devices which only require an illuminator) over ECG (Electrocardiography, requires eletro pads to collect biological electricity) in terms of the heart rate sensor. However, right before leaving for Berlin, the PPG sensor died without notice. Therefore, we quickly switched to the ECG sensor we abandoned from the last iteration and made things running again. Moreover, the electro pads paired with our sensor could not be found in any physical stores in Berlin. Coming from the bold idea of utilizing the conductivity of salty water, we self-made the electro pads with cotton pad soaked in salty water and it worked!