3D lo-fi prototyping exercise; we were given the option of modeling an immersion blender, stud-finder, or shower control interface.
I chose the shower control interface option for my 3-D model prototype. The first aspect of design I needed to tackle was creating a control that would be easy to use while showering, taking into account factors such as difficulty seeing clearly, and wet or soapy hands. In addition to improved usability, I set out to create a design that would increase user awareness around water usage and conservation. Inspired by the Los Angeles drought, the design is called "LA Shower."
I explored several different design options: (1) a vertical, rectangular device with an LED screen, (2) a Nest-inspired control displaying only the temperature, and (3) a circular device similar to Nest, that turned the water on by pushing the outer ring in, increasing water pressure as it moves away from the user. After some moderate market research and asking potential users their opinions, I decided to further ideate and build design number three: a circular device with an outer ring dial that controls both volume and temperature.
As previously described, to access the water flow, the user simply pushes the outer ring of the device away from their body and toward the wall it is installed on. Not only is this an incredibly easy, intuitive, and nearly full-proof way to have total control over water pressure, but, additionally, during my usability test with my roommate Bryan Murphy, he described the experience as, “...it’s fun! I even get to push in a button!” In other words, total success was realized.
The temperature control is also easy and intuitive to use. As with many similar systems, temperature is displayed through color and cold is represented as blue on the far left side of the device while hot is represented as red (or in this case, pink, due to marker constraints). Thus, the user must simply rotate the dial in either direction to achieve the desired temperature. This functionality passed the usability test with flying colors, as I utilized a common, well-known standard of temperature display and control.
Inspiration for the LA Shower came from the Los Angeles drought, and the subsequent need to conserve water, a worthy cause in all cities. At first I ideated a shower control that would automatically turn off after a designated amount of time had passed, but that idea was ill-received by my target market; instead, I designed a display that featured a passive timer at the bottom.
After researching the average shower time required for water conservation, I set the standard to ten-minutes. In order to increase mindfulness of water usage, as well as awareness of time spent showering compared to the ideal ten minutes, I added ten small lights to the bottom of the display. As each minute passes, one light turns off, until all ten have turned off at the end of the ten minute period. Ideally, users will then finish up their shower activities and end the shower earlier than their usual time. Even more ideally, however, users will experience a gamification of sorts, attempting to beat their previous shower time, and resulting in shorter and shorter showers and thus an increase in water conservation.
The last function of the LA Shower includes a music player, because what fun is a shower you cannot sing in? The design is incredibly simple; the prototype assumes the user has already synced the device with their iTunes or Spotify account and specified a desired playlist that can be altered from their account, not from the device. Thus, the only functions on the shower control include swiping right or left to change songs, tapping anywhere on the display to start or stop the music, and volume control, which I did not realize I had neglected to include until performing my first usability test.
Many problems arose during development. For instance, because the main console and outer dial were constructed of the same material, it was incredibly difficult to turn the dial, a major design flaw. To create a smoother experience, I simply cut a piece of paper and wrapped it tightly around the center console, allowing for smooth turning, and fixing the problem entirely.