Xiaoyu Chen, Himani Deshpande, Zhangyan Ling, Robert Patterson
8-Ball is a color assistive technology device for users who became visually challenged later in life.
Motivation and Concept
We came across a video of a person, who was blind from birth, talking about how he does not know or understand what color is. That got us thinking that maybe we might not be able to bring color into the lives of people who were born blind, but we could definitely do that for people who lost their eyesight later in life.
My Role and Learnings
I was responsible for the physical computing side of the project apart from or joint effort on ideation, research, concept development and user testing. Our initial idea was to have a vibration motor attached to a wearable device. Due to the bulky nature of the microcontroller and all the connections, it became difficult to properly build a wearable device. We thus shifted to a hand-held portable device. We moved away from a vibration motor to a dial as it was a simpler voluntary interaction as compared to the device vibrating. Sometimes vibrations are not felt and that can cause a delay in getting the color information. We settled on a simpler user experience of touch.
I worked with a servo motor, attached to an Arduino flora and a LiPo battery. I thought it was amazing how the user experience was elevated even with the most minimal electronics. This was my first experience at building a fully functioning integrated prototype of a smart product and I learnt a lot about form development, understanding the user journey and minimizing the technology needed to achieve the desired results.