Low-fi prototyping, part II

After our last prototyping test suffered from bad sound quality from phone to phone, I figured it would be good to test audio coming from my own phone. I made a text file with directions to read. Then I let this charming British man in the app SpeakIt! read it out loud. Here’s the Speak it! audio file.

The file is one long file with text-to-speech directions read on this format:

1. Head southeast on 5th Street toward 8th Ave.
Ride about 282 feet.
Then turn left onto 8th Ave

2. Turn left onto 8th Ave
Ride about 0.1 miles.
Then turn left onto 2nd Street

3. Turn left onto 2nd Street
Ride about 0.4 miles.
Then turn right onto 5th Ave

4. Turn right onto 5th Ave
Ride about 0.6 miles.
Then turn left onto Bergen Street

5. Turn left onto Bergen Street
Ride about 0.5 miles.
Then turn right onto Bond Street

6. Turn right onto Bond Street
Ride about 253 feet.
Destination will be on the left
Address: 190 Dean Street

I tested it with Apple headphones (one plug in) and iPhone, using the remote on the headphones to pause after each bulk of directions. Of course I needed to know when to press play again myself, rather than getting it triggered by GPS knowing where I am. But other than that – VERY successful as the voice was loud and clear. Would definitely add info about which streets have bike path/lane to the instructions, though. I forgot about it when making the audio file.

Low-fi prototyping, part I

When considering doing a thesis together, it is very important to make sure that the thesis area we consider to commit to, is in fact an area that is thesis worthy. We both need to believe in the project, and we have to want to live with it for a long time. That is why we wanted to do a simple test of the concept of a bike companion giving in-ride directions out in the real world.

We prepared directions for each other, and planned to bike behind each other, giving directions at the appropriate time through a phone call. Equipment used:

  • Android phone with bluetooth headset
  • iPhone with apple ear buds

Bad sound quality was a big issue, and made it particularly hard to hear street names (which is the most important thing we figured). A phone call while biking gave us way too much wind noise and other interferences. Audio quality is KEY. We were talking about whether using bluetooth headphones rather than wired headphones would potentially not give us good enough audio. Need to check that.

We agreed on a good format for giving instructions. When next turn on 8th ave is approaching:

Turn left onto 8th avenue.
Ride about 0.1 miles.
Then turn left onto 2nd street.

When next turn on 2nd street is approaching:

Turn left onto 2nd street.
Ride about X miles.
Then turn right onto 5th avenue.

But adding whether there’s a bike lane/path would also be helpful, and maybe also on which side of the street the lane is on. In addition, we should consider ways to talk back or give other kind of feedback to the helmet. We might want to make it:

  • Repeat
  • Shut up

Other types of encouragement along the way were also discussed, and how to humanize the voice and the content. Important to figure out how to make the biking experience desirable/delightful. I.e. what happens when on a bridge etc.

These notes were taken on Cafe Martin in Park Slope after the bike ride. Then we rode our bikes to Brighton Beach, and discussed the possibility of thesis collaboration in the sunset.