My Role

Chief designer and hardware developer who realizes water-quality monitoring with Geniuno 101. I together with other 4 girls completed the project and won second price in the competition.

Duration

1.5 Months, June.30th 2017 (Semi Final in Shanghai) - August.11th 2017 (Final in Beijing)

Tags

Interactive Device, Product Design, Augmented Reality, Voice interfaces

··· What is...this fish? ···

Nemo is a product that provides a brand new interaction with your pet fish in your house.

With an iPad on the back of the fish tank and a camera on top, you could ‘talk’ to the fish and it could also ‘reply’ to you with a conversation bubble on screen moving alongside. Familiar with a variety of topics, Nemo seems like to have the ability to understand you as a good company.
More interactions like role-play games with the fish also enables the family to have a greater time together with this ‘new family member’.

Check out the coolest introduction video we made for the competition.

Why Nemo?

Design Prompt

Since all members in our team fancy cute pets and animals, our initial direction is to

" explore more possibilities to interact with animals. "

Ideation

Shown below is our ideation process that I drew.
We started from an interesting fact, and got an amazing idea.

>>>
We also made a paper prototype to manifest our idea at the early stage of this competition.

Preliminary Design of Nemo

We conducted a lit review and several interviews, a group of people which exists a lot in China arouse our interest.

There’s actually something that I don’t wanna talk about with my parents or friends, I don’t want them to worry about me.

—— Quote from one of the interviewees.

Sharing similar features, this group of people is faced with same living condition and dilemma which may lead to some psychology problems. I visualized them in a simple Persona.

Interaction & Features

Therefore, we form the main features of Nemo based on this group people's need:

I also made several user interfaces for iPad APP. People could check water quality and their conversation record there.

··· Again, Why Nemo? ···

Competitive Analysis

Analyzing the competitors’ features of Nemo, we ask ourselves why people should choose Nemo.
The fundamental attractions of our product are :
- Interesting experience to feed a fish at home.
- A warm company that you could talk with.

But, are these enough?

Feedbacks from judges and audience during our road show at Semi-final led us to a deeper thought:
- During the road show, families with children showed a huge interest in Nemo.
- Utilizing Realsense™️ and iPad, just ‘talking’ does not release the potential of it.
- People probably feel bored to talk with it after getting familiar with it cause it could not enhance the real communication among people.

Iteration: More possibilities here?

Based on the analysis above, we redefine our product and enable Nemo to lit up more people.

With an extension of the target users, we define Nemo as a new member in our families who could create freshness and harmony.

So, what do family members want?

We did a case study into the typical scenarios of families with a 5-year-old child. 2 interesting insights were found.

The journey map of family life that we made

Therefore, we improved the features of Nemo to fit it into this scenario and also put an emphasize on enhancing the interaction among family members. In the competition, we concentrated our design on the children

What if...we could play games with fish in family?

We utilized depth cameras to create a new and interesting interaction for Nemo.

With this new interaction, we provide a new and exciting experience for children to read stories.

An interesting game which enable the child and other family members to finish a vivid story with Nemo together is a good way for them learn new words as well as practice their expression skills with parents. Accompanied with Nemo and insightful stories, the family could have a closer relationship.

In the competition, we just created a demo for the game with cameras in a limited time. But we hope that Nemo could be a open source platform like XboX where more interactive games could be developed afterwards. Also, with the technology of IoT and AI,interesting connections among fish tanksas well as a more precise emotional caring system could be realized in the future to enhance the overall capacity of Nemo.

··· How Nemo: Prototyping ···

We created a demo of our product in the competition.
During the process, we were faced with several challenges, so we still iterated a lot and tried our best to achieve functions and enhance user experience.

How to make the fish look like they are really talking?

We made some attempts to create a visual effect that fish’s conversation bubbles could ‘float’ above it like they just bubble some words out.

>>>
The initial idea of us is to use naked eye 3D imaging to display a bubble just above the fish’s position. But this is not practical because water will disturb the reflection of light, also fish will have little space to live in that triangle. Therefore, we gave up this plan.

<<<
After discussion, we utilized a hemisphere fish tank to conduct an experiment. We hope that when seeing from different angles, the conversation bubble on screen would deform and seems like ‘floating’ above the fish. But in high-fidelity test, it works only from several angles. Also, the light reflection on sphere surface would disturb the imaging processing.

Faced with these difficulties, we changed our original direction which is to make the conversation bubble more ‘3D'.
Rather, we selected a falt and thin fish tank, which is more suitable and practical. Bubbles on screen could just 'float' with fish and it appears that the fish is talking like in some cartoons.

How to make all these fancy ideas real?

To display conversation bubbles, we need to detect the fish’s position in water. An additional structure is needed to be made as well to contain all the things.

<<<
We put a camera in front of the fish tank at first, but soon we found it not suitable to position it there cause fish tank for the family should not take up much space on table. Also, such layout will disturb the communication between users and Nemo.

>>>
Also, we utilized cement to contain wires and other things and tried to create a natural feeling by doing this decoration. However, the final result of its appearance doesn't correspond with environment at home.

We came up with the solution and made the demo at the final of U.S.-China Young Maker Competiton:

··· TAKEAWAYS ···

Me and my team at the competition

Design for people, also for our pets...

I love pets very much… during the semi-final of this competition, I even brought a cat there (as you can see on the banner image). Also, when we came up with the idea to interact with fish, I felt so excited and then took one thing into consideration: will it do some hurt to the fish? Therefore, the interaction with fish was designed in a nature-friendly way. It has little disturbance to fish’s life and only utilized the randomness of their swimming path to create unexpected moments for people.
Such an ethic principle is what I want to take forward. Nowadays there are many interactions between nature and human but most of them sacrifice the ecological system and other creatures’ well-being to satisfy our desire. This has resulted in problems and we need to avoid that in the products.

I need a more holistic thought of the product and its features.

Our device is not perfect. After the competition, I found that the connection between 2 features of this product: 'voice interaction' and 'Kinect games' is not so strong. It’s more like two products pieced together. I usually had such feeling when I did iterations in my projects cause I often needed to add some features, but it’s not a easy thing to make every feature a indispensable part of a product. Therefore, in the future design practice, a more comprehensive thought about how to let the product 'serve as a whole' will be my priority when doing iterations.

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