Prototyping Studio with Andy Davidson


Create a behavioral prototype.

Fool a participant into believing he or she is testing a working product in order to gain useful usability feedback (before, theoretically, investing too much time and other resources into development).

We were given the following options to choose from: speech to text dictation, an Apple TV type product, or an alignment corrector (applicable to yoga, pilates or weightlifting, or as a generic posture correcting device).



My group was completely uninterested in pursuing speech-to-text dictation, and felt un-challenged by an Apple TV prototype that could be so easily faked with a remote control. We decided upon posture correction and, because of my unwavering love of yoga, took on the additional challenge of designing and faking a device that could be used for alignment correction while practicing.

We brainstormed many different ways to accomplish the task at hand: a smart mat that lights up to display feedback and corrections, a skeletal tracking webcam that displays proper placement to the user, we even tossed around ideas about magical yoga pants and high-tech headbands before settling on our final design: Chakra.

Chakra consists of two parts: a wearable device and a connected computer program. Conceptually, the device contains an accelerometer to monitor spinal alignment. The computer program collects information from the sensor, and plays pre-recorded audio feedback when alignment is off, providing the user with helpful corrections.


In order to fool our participant, Jonathan, we broke open a USB Flash Drive, exposing the circuitry within, and taped a piece of black magnetic sheet to the back. We set up a command center in my bedroom, where one of our group members, Irene, was connected to the living room computer via Skype.

Once Jonathan arrived, Kristen and I taped the Chakra device to his lower spine, and led him through several yoga postures. Irene watched from the other room, and played the pre-recorded audio corrections as needed.

The plan worked brilliantly; Jonathan fully believed that Chakra was a working device, and provided us with lots of feedback after finishing the usability test. Success!