It’s all getting very real

I’ve recently been taking part design sprints to allow our stage 1 SOSI Projects to explore their visions in a safe but critical, and most importantly, trusted environment. It’s an approach that aims to explore what the user’s experience might be for a particular idea, and is great for solving problems before they happen, and for maintaining and enriching the relationship between user and product/service.

What struck me most about the event was just how focussed and enthused the teams have become with our support. The ideas are so good that I honestly feel each one would’ve had a decent chance on their own but it felt to me like Jisc were providing a very unique level of support, allowing the ideas the chance to evolve and mature in a safe environment, and helping them to understand development processes that were scalable, demand driven and ready for the real world.

So, who/what are our stage 1 SOSI winners?

Project ViP

Many modern systems use visual programming, making them inaccessible to anyone with visual impairments. Project ViP seeks to solve that fundamental problem by using 3D printed nodes that have raised text, braille on one side, and text on the other, that can be connected together to design more complex ideas. Using this method the visually impaired user can learn about and write code in a visual way. Beautifully simple.

My Access Passport (MAP)

The MAP project is defined by its powerful vision – to provide accessibility to technology for everyone, anywhere. Accessibility is a very hot topic and is taken seriously by the biggest players in the industry but moving from computer to computer, even with a roaming profile, is hard work for someone with accessibility issues. Narrators, screen colour preferences, font sizes and many more settings are available but they have to be set up individually each time and reverted for the next user and without support that can be a real barrier. The idea is essentially based around a portable settings capture device that can be configured with support and then applied simply by logging in, setting up your computer with all the accessibility settings you need and reverting back when you leave.

U Can Cook

This brilliant idea aims to give independence to people with learning difficulties by supporting them to do them things other people take for granted. The prototype cookbook shows you how to boil an egg, or heat up some beans amongst other things, and uses augmented reality to achieve a seamless and engaging interface to how-to videos, all accessible on your mobile device. The scope for growth for this idea is huge, and they already have some very influential supporters.

Digital Stories

We all love a good story and we know they’re very engaging. This project aims to connect a community of people with learning difficulties by them telling their story; their challenges and how they’ve overcome them. It draws together experience in a non-patronising and accessible way and will be a formidable source of support for a community that feels fragmented.

We’re at a critical stage in the design process, and as one of the team leaders said to me during the last design sprint, “it’s all getting very real”. Their ideas have become tangible things, with fewer challenges holding them back and with clear goals driving them forwards. I will work closely with each team to define a suitable testing strategy that is geared toward the capture and analysis of user experience so that we can seek to strengthen the relationship the user will have with the product and uncover any other issues they may still have. We expect some surprises and probably some significant changes in the way each team will try to achieve their visions, but that’s what this process is all about!

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