Loop | Capstone Project | Summer 2015
Watch the video on the right. Notice how complicated and confusing it is to learn a highly dextrous skill like knitting with current tools and tutorials? It's nearly impossible to understand the layering relationship of materials in a 2-dimensional space, static tutorials move at a single, unadaptable pace that fails to adjust to the unique needs of a user, and current online tools must be controlled by hand, an incredibly frustrating experience when trying to learn hands-on skills.
Frustrated by the inadequacy of current tools, inspired by the idea of preserving artisanal craft skills, and motivated by the opportunity to empower others by helping them learn the skills required to make, build, and create, along with the ability and opportunity to express themselves creatively, our mission was clear:
Enhance and extend the learning of craft through
thoughtful and meaningful use of emerging technology
KNITTING AS A USE CASE
Eager to begin observing participants learn dextrous skills so that we could get to work gathering data and insights, we chose knitting as our use case due to minimal expense and safety concerns, highly complex layering relationships of materials, required understanding of three dimensional space, and sheer feasibility. Our thinking was that, as long as the skill we chose met the above criteria, our solution would be largely generalizable across many domains.
Through observation activities, surveys, and interviews with local experts, academics, and content creators, we sought answers to the following research questions:
1. How do users currently learn craft skills?
2. What types of tools are they using?
3. What is the content creation process for experts?
Although painful to see participants watch and re-watch, and re-watch several times more, each step of a tutorial, struggling to keep from losing the progress they had already made, and straining uncomfortably to view the tutorial from different angles, our research was incredibly informative and eye-opening, and led us to our first set of hypotheses that informed our ideation and prototyping.
Photographs taken during interview with John Martin:
UW Art Building Wood Shop Studio Technician.
Eager to start making and thinking with our hands, we created several prototypes throughout the design process to test our hypotheses and ideas.
By constantly creating, evaluating, and iterating, we were able to develop and validate our core design principles for the final design:
1. The tool must provide a hands-free experience.
2. Tutorial perspective should be adaptable and 3D.
3. Pace and instruction should adapt to user needs.
Our system features adaptive learning, adjusting to the unique needs of a user. For instance, a user indicating struggle or a need for additional assistance by frequently repeating steps or slowing down the tutorial, will be seamlessly switched to a track featuring additional explanation, more detailed instruction, and other helpful features, while a user indicating finesse by skipping steps or speeding up the tutorial will be routed to a shorter, faster, more streamlined tutorial track. The above diagram illustrates our designed track switching logic.
Ideation & Video Lead
Primary & Secondary Research
Interviews, Evaluation & Synthesis
Knitting Expert & Teacher