When i compare this semester to last, there are some pretty stark contrasts. While the topics differed, the overall process was quite similar. Nadia and I ended very positively last semester, delivering a strong concept that was received very well. However, leading up to the end was quite difficult. We found it hard to communicate our concept, so we were not thoroughly supported by the lecturers until we managed to pull it together strongly at the end.

This semester however, although starting a bit slow, once we established our core concept we heard nothing but praise and positive reinforcement from everyone we spoke to. It made it so much easier to push our concept through to execution. I’m very happy with where we have ended up, and as the others have said in there posts, we have had some interest from people to take this project beyond uni.

Nadia and Sarah have been a pleasure to work with, and i thank them for all their hard work.

I wish all the honours students, and lecturers, good luck with their future endeavors!

I’m out.

alex.

This semester’s project has been very different to last semester. I enjoyed last semester, looking at the consumption and disposal of technology, but I wanted to look into something else this time around.

When the group of Alex, Nadia and myself had decided to look into domestic technologies, we originally didn’t have much support for the idea, because it didn’t appear we were looking at “new” technologies. Instead, we were looking to the past for answers about the future.

Although this was difficult at the start, it did pay off, with our proposed outcomes of an information card system and website now being treated as a real possibility, not just as a great idea. It will be interesting to see if we can take our outcomes past being a university project.

This semester did open up my mind to how much electricity appliances use though, which is a scary thought. The things you just don’t think about until you have to study them!

The final semester of Honours is almost over. This semester’s project has been an interesting one.

There was an initial struggle when we came out of the literature review and had to work out what to do, but after that, we ended up finding a strong concept that we were all very happy with.

The most pleasing thing this semester has been the positive reactions we have received to the concept. When we explain it, people seem to instantly understand and be genuinely interested. It doesn’t seem like a “uni project”, more a rationale for something “real”.

The topic itself is very interesting. When researching the information for the Place cards, it was actually very difficult to come by some of the information. It isn’t simply that we would be providing all the information in one place, in some instances, we would be providing the information full stop, as it simply isn’t readily available. The information we found was highly interesting. Finding out how much energy and water each appliance uses and how much that costs made me stop and think. It’s certainly worth considering whether a more expensive, but more efficient product will actually save you dollars. I genuinely feel that the service we propose should exist, it’s definitely something I would personally be interested in using to make informed purchases.

Thanks to Alex and Sarah for being a great team to work with.

Let’s hope the presentation goes well!

Since my last post, we have gone from version 3 to version 6 (all in a matter of two days). This has seen a series of rapid changes (mostly quite small), and the addition of all pages.

Version 6 seems to be one we are all happy with, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel from here. I think there will be only minor changes to the site from here.

Below are the screen caps from version 6.

The publication is going well and is almost done (we intend to print in a couple of days). The tasks are working their way down. The major tasks left are: getting everything printed and bound, working out precisely what we will say in our presentation, and creating presentation visuals. There are a few other tasks, but they seem relatively small.

It seems unthinkable that with just a few days left I can go to bed at 10pm, but we’re surprisingly organised, it seems (fingers crossed)!

The website has so far been through a sketching by hand phase, as well as three on-screen revisions. The fourth revision is in progress, and may very well be the last one, as it is looking like it is nearly there.

Version 1

This was really us just getting our ideas down and merging them into something we could work from. It was a combination of what we had discussed and drawn. We focused on the Your Place page, as it was the most complex and most important, and built the site on the basis of it.

Version 2

Based on the criticisms and problems we had with version 1, a second version was created, still in black and white, just to get the ideas and functions down before starting to really design it.

Version 3

Version 2 was a lot closer to what we wanted, so from there we began designing in colour! We removed a couple of the bottom panels for fear of it becoming cluttered. We felt these details were subsidiary, and could be communicated to website members via email, much like Amazon do with their members. For Place, it wouldn’t be selling products, as such, but letting people know where they fit in in the scheme of things (ie: people who bought what you bought also bought this).

We also added the other pages:

‘Did you know’ fact from: http://www.energy.com.au/

Info graphic from: http://ninemsn.com.au

Info graphic from: http://ninemsn.com.au

Version 4 will just be minor changes, and filling in the full content. It should be finished soon.

We are also working hard on the publication, which is coming along nicely.

All is coming together!

We began design by starting with the Place Cards. We developed a logo, and then used the Place Cards to develop a brand identity/style. Here is an example of one:

The cards are colour coded according to their category, ie: this card is an entertainment card and is red, the colour for kitchen appliances is yellow, etc.

These cards have now been printed to be shown during our presentation.

Once it was established that we wanted to look into the research gap of use and non-use of domestic technologies, our research methods had to be created to collect the data we needed. We were curious to find out if we can discover any patterns of technology adoption and usage to forecast trends in this area for the future.

Looking into the future, it seems that new and exciting technology will become integrated into homes, but there is much debate over what role it will play. It is argued that moving away from a fully automated system for the home would be wise, instead replacing it with a system that prompts users to act, teaching them as they go. As convergence of technologies reaches new levels of complexity, will usability suffer? Will trends of usability today give us some insight into what shape and form technology of the future will take?

Our research showed that people are very concerned about the look of their technology fitting in with the décor of their home, and have specific needs and wants in relation to their lifestyle. Our outcome will allow people to deal with technologies in the way they want, letting them choose and check how technology will look in their home before they purchase.

In addition, with the current world issues of carbon emissions and climate change, our outcome – acting as a large scale research method in itself – seeks to discover ways of making the usage of domestic technologies more sustainable.

Our main objective is to make an important and relevant product that deals with domestic technologies, as it is something each member of society deals with every day. As part of this, we aim to design an outcome that meets people’s technological wants and needs, dealing with technology in a realistic way that people will actually appreciate.

Research for our literature review, as well as our own research has shown that people like their domestic technologies to fit in with their lives. In light of this, we aim to equip people with knowledge about the technology they have, and might be about to purchase. We aim to aid people in their self-education on domestic technologies.

With our outcome, we aim to create a more knowledgeable consumer base. We hope that giving people knowledge about the products they own and buy could lead to a reduction in the use of inefficient technologies that over-consume resources, such as water and electricity.

Furthermore, we aim to design an outcome that is a device for ongoing further research, which may help to uncover social patterns that help predict future socio-technological trends.

After completing our literature review, we established which areas could be further researched to lead to a solution. The research methods we chose to utilise were observation followed by interview, a flash card experiment and a mapping exercise. The ethnographic methods chosen reflect our desire to look at technologies from a social perspective. These methods were chosen for their ability to supply information, and to complement each other for cross-referencing purposes.

Observation was chosen as we wanted to gain an uncensored view into technology use in the home. The evening was chosen for observation as it contains two key ‘events’ – meal time and leisure time. 12 subjects in six different households were observed (some subjects are considered to be part of multiple households).

The households observed were:

  • Household 1: Mother, father, adult daughter (and her partner), and 11-year-old son
  • Household 2: Couple in their 20s
  • Household 3: Elderly woman
  • Household 4: Two men in their 20s sharing an apartment
  • Household 5: Mother, father, adult daughter and son (and his partner)
  • Household 6: Mother, father, adult daughter (and her partner) and 16-year-old son

We observed what technology was being used, who was using it, and the purpose, place and value of each technology.

The technology used to prepare meals across all households was fairly standard, with the most popular being: knives, pots and pans, stoves, ovens, microwaves, kettles, refrigerators and taps. An interesting anomaly was the primary meal maker from Household 1, who used a breadmaker to make pasta dough for lasagne due to a medical condition which made it difficult for her to knead by hand. The value most technologies contributed to preparing a meal was in their functions; making tasks easier or quicker to manage.

The kitchen itself acted as a social venue, with members of all households (excepting for the single-person household), having people come in and out. In most cases, the meal was prepared by one person, but subsidiary tasks like setting the table were performed by other members of the household.

In terms of leisure, television was by far the most popular technology, with all subjects in each household watching the television at some point. In all households (excepting for the single-person household), television-use was intermixed with meal making. In Households 1, 2, 4 and 6, meal makers watched throughout the meal preparation. In Household 5, the meal was prepared by two members of the household, with the first arriving home from work and doing all the preparation, then going to the lounge room to watch television. The second finished off the cooking when he arrived. They then shared communal leisure time, whilst the meal cooked in the oven.

In these households, television acted as a social hub, with household members congregating around it. It also acted as an impetus for conversation.

In all households, the television remained on (if only in the background) throughout the meal. Leisure time was more intensive after dinner, with the television being watched with greater attention.

The observation undertaken will inform our outcome by giving us a greater understanding of actual technology use in the home, as well as acting as background to our other research methods. It has supplied us with the initial knowledge needed to further interrogate the subject matter, and to begin to see patterns of use.