This is fascinating work that I got into while I was studying Occupational Therapy (OT). Occupational Therapy is a career for improving a person’s quality of life if they have a disability or suffer an injury. Listening to NPR one day, I heard Clifford Nass talk about his book, “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop.” I immediately bought the book on Kindle and read it in the little bit of free time I had. That book, combined with what I was learning about assistive technologies in OT school, lead me to study Human-Computer Interaction.
As an HCI student at Georgia Tech, I learned that my experience with documentary filmmaking, providing therapy to people in distress, communicating information between doctors, patients, and other caregivers, and, finally, analyzing research studies to pick out possible biases and flaws in the research gave me an edge in conducting user studies.
My first project involved studying people with visual impairments to determine their exercise patterns or lack thereof. We determined there was a need for treadmills to be more user friendly for this population, specifically because running outside when you are blind can be quite dangerous, or even walking fast, for that matter. The people we interviewed were desperate for accessible treadmills. We would have loved to create visually-impaired friendly roller skates, but we chose a treadmill because that’s what our users needed. We created a prototype and tested it with several visually impaired users.
My Master’s project focused on improving the work flow for video editors, particularly those working on documentaries. I conducted several phone and contextual interviews with editors to determine a user problem that I could solve. My hypothesis was that a speech recognition plug-in for a video editing software program would solve the problem of typing transcripts of all the footage. It turned out that there is speech recognition available, but the technology for speech recognition wasn’t up to the task. Besides that, editors add much more information to their transcripts than speech recognition could detect. There’s visual information, tone of voice, laughter, and broad subject matter topics that are useful to have typed into a document for ready access when composing a documentary. I ended up making a physical prototype along with a new software program that would allow an editor to quickly type transcripts while being able to control the playback of the video without their hands leaving the keyboard. Several editors asked me how they could buy the prototype at the end of the project.
At Virtually Better, Inc:
- Pegasys – Childhood Social Anxiety – I wrote the AI using PullString
- Experience Success – Adult obesity – I wrote scripts, researched potential users, created flowcharts, produced mock-up videos, influenced design decisions
- Food Allergy Adventure – Children’s food allergies – I assisted with research and design decisions
- DSTAR – HIV and STI educational games – kept everyone honest
- OC, Go! – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptom tracking app – influenced design decisions
- Fear of Storms – VR simulation of a storm – Quality control testing
- Tough Talks – HIV communication – I analyzed research gathered from focus groups and influenced design decisions
- Anchors Away – Childhood Anxiety – I wrote surveys and made video tutorials
At Georgia Institute of Technology:
- Treadmill Re-design – Accessible treadmill for the visually impaired – I lead our team, conducted focus groups and interviews, and conducted user studies
- Transcripteo – Video transcription joystick – I lead contextual inquiries with video editors, created a hardware and software prototype, conducted user studies
- Cat Vest – Responsive, wearable device for a cat – I researched and prototyped
- Sonification of Human Movement – Audio device to assist blind athletes – I analyzed movement data, conducted user interviews and user studies
At University of Alabama-Birmingham:
- Birmingham YouthBuild – short documentary – I interviewed students and teachers, researched the subject, filmed, and edited footage
- Invisible Goals – short documentary – I interviewed dozens of people with visual impairments, including the Paralympic Goalball team, filmed, and edited footage
- Thank You, Joan – Thank you video – Interviewed dozens of parents and students at a school who wanted to thank the founder, filmed, and edited footage
- Exergaming Business Plan – Business plan for a techy fitness center – I lead focus groups
- Lower Extremity Project – Research project for occupational therapy involving legs – I lead our team, interviewed prosthetists
- ETLab Gloves – Solution for wires in the VR cave – I prototyped a jacket to improve user experience of being in the VR cave