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Externalize & Focus

I had to start somewhere, so this week was about externalizing. I found if did’t get going on one idea, follow it through, and make the thing– it was impossible to get feedback. I was still feeling a little stuck though while making things. I was continually circling around the notion of the idea but not the actual idea itself.

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I met with Diana, a lovely AC4D alum, who understands this process and was a big help in compassionately telling me to focus on something!

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This week’s work

I began this week diving into wires trying my best to make an interface to work through some of the questions I had in my head. While sketching, idea after idea came pouring in. Which sounds like a good thing, but in my case it wasn’t. The problem I was facing was that I wasn’t focused on the core problem, and I hadn’t fully committed to it in order to create an impactful design. I would easily feel lost halfway through wires, or even worse- I’d feel like the ‘magic’ and meaning around the problem I was trying to solve was missing completely.

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I knew I had to take a step back. So, I defined the problem once again, and this time I stuck with it.

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The focus:

Physical constraints prevent people from having experiences they’ve always wanted.

This was a key component to the research we did last quarter with families and their loved ones. And later, I focused in on emotional and physical restraints around an aging population. Elderly individuals particularly were constrained to comfortable and stable surroundings that made them feel at ease. Yet, missing out on experiences outside of those parameters wreaked havoc emotionally.

I find this really compelling and challenging. It’s a problem not only Elderly face, but many others who are physically unable to be in the places they wish they could be.  I am trying to work on design ideas around this problem specifically. Millions of questions pour into my head, but the one that keeps surfacing is how close to an experience do you have to be, in order to feel satisfied?

Which leads me to questions around what does the word “experience” mean exactly? What could it mean? And how much of an experience is pleasurable? What do people want from experiences?

The ideas
 I’ll share a bit about the two ideas I’ve been working through.

Idea One: Community (crowd-sourced) platform for users to post wanted experiences. The community contributes to the wanted experiences if they are available and want to participate in them and share with the original user post.

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So for example: Suzi recently moved to California and misses the Boston in the fall. She posts her wanted experience online and spends the day at work and later checks into the site/community to see people who are living in Boston contributing to her wanted/missed experience. Everyone posts their rendition of what that experience looks like. Some people post video, some take pictures, etc. but they’re all posting them into Suzi’s wanted experience section/area. She is touched others are helping her relive that experience in their own way. And she like’s that the thoughts around the contributions were crafted directly for her- and not something that she could just Google and find.

Idea Two: Paid “insta-experience” service where a stand in employee of the service is a “stand-in” for a person missing out on a specific event/moment i.e. Graduation, Wedding, Birthday Party, Etc. The person missing the event who isn’t physically there at the event is treated like they are actually there and observe by video/live-stream technology. The “insta-experience” employee who tries their best to interact and be a part of the event just like if the individual they’re standing in for was actually there.

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This idea poses a lot of questions for me when I think of the myriad of parts and pieces that this takes to work, but I think there is something interesting in it and I’m continuing to explore what this looks like.

At this point I’ve worked through the flow of signing up and requesting the service for an event. This is helpful for me to start externalizing what this idea could look develop into and is a helpful start. It’s the first piece I’m trying to nail down.

But I need to test this further. I’ve started with scenario validation around the ideas. I feel I’m on the right path, but it’s not fully developed, and that’s ok. The more I get it out there and gain feedback, the more it will begin to grow.

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This week has been a lot of trying to externalize my ideas/thoughts into something tangible. I’m really excited about this problem I’m working towards and the more I make the more I feel others are starting to get excited about it too. I can now focus and test a full and complete design solution and move forward with the process.

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