The result of my own frustration with the schedule-building process while I was working as a Volunteer Coordinator, Skedge is currently a PHP program that I wrote to make the work go faster for myself. My next goal is to improve and generalize the underlying algorithms, while also prototyping and testing a web interface so that I can offer the tool to other volunteer coordinators and event organizers, and they can tailor it to their needs. Most of the volunteer scheduling programs on the market today are just glorified signup sheets, and they rely on volunteers to select their own shifts on a first-come, first-served basis. This can lead to problems if later volunteers can't find shifts that fit their schedule, or if unpopular shifts are never assigned (or turn into noshows). It seems simple enough to collect everyone's availablility and assign the shifts yourself, but a lot of events have multiple kinds of volunteers, on multiple days, in multiple locations, and there are often different requirements for different shifts, and volunteers who want to work together, so it gets complicated pretty fast, and event planning is hectic enough without having to fuss with the schedule. Skedge is a tool that puts the right people in the right places at the right times - you just enter your needs, ask people to submit their skills and availability, and it does the rest! A partial wireframe prototype is viewable here.
The brainchild of my dear friend and graduate school classmate, Erik Pukinskis, Sprout Robot was a garden planning startup, and I assisted with prototyping and testing the planting directions during the Summer of 2009. The website is no longer active, but there was a small and dedicated user base for a few years, and the customized planting directions, drawn in the style of a comic book, were one of the most popular features.
Inspired by my own difficulties structuring my time and keeping track of all of my goals when I began working from home, Kwerk is a life-management game that doubles as a mindmapping tool. The point structure of the game is designed to reward balance and collaboration - tasks are worth more if they are a part of a balanced set, and if you combine forces with other people to form a set that is larger than you could have formed alone, the point value is multiplied. A digital version of the game does not yet exist, but I have a large box of paper prototypes and sketches, and the idea remains a passion of mine. My longterm vision is a game-driven system of tools that people can use to map out and organize their goals, and build cues and reminders into their lives to reinforce those goals in a range of ways. The goal of Kwerk is to get over the fear of following your dreams, and begin seeing work as play.
The product of my participation in the Convivio Interaction Design Summer School in Edinburgh, Scotland, Crowdisplay is a distributed display framework intended for large festival environments. The idea is to scatter a collection of displays of various resolutions - from wall-sized high-resolution information portals to pixel-size lights on the sides of buildings and in the hands of individuals themselves - in order to create a new medium within which information can be transmitted and interaction facilitated at a variety of levels of engagement.
We explored several ways that such a framework could be used, and one prototype - of a game for crowd members to play - is shown below.
Click anywhere in the animation to begin.
Thinking Outside the Inbox (Master's Capstone Research)
Tagging systems provide the potential building blocks for a versatile, multi-dimensional email categorization system, but the idea of tagging does not come naturally to users with a lifelong familiarity with the hierarchical folder model, and the task of tagging is time-intensive and potentially overwhelming, even to users who understand what they are doing. For my capstone research, I explored ways that the burden of tagging might be reduced through thoughtful interface design, and suggested strategies that designers should consider when prototyping and building tagging systems in the email environment.
Don't Leave Home Without Me!
Conceived in response to a series of surveys which revealed that many people have a difficult time remembering to bring everything with them when they leave the house, Don't Leave Home Without Me is a context-sensitive reminder system that alerts you when you are leaving the house without everything you need. By combining a simple doorside interface for tagging necessary objects and a user-driven signaling system to avoid false alarms when simply going outside to enjoy the view, Don't Leave Home Without Me explores a new way of tackling an old problem by leveraging pervasive scanner technologies that will likely soon be a part of all of our lives. The full design document, with a summary of our process and conclusions as well as sample sketches, can be seen here.
Meeteetse: Social Wellbeing through Place Attachment
My team submission to the SIG CHI International Student Design Competition, where we were invited to present at the annual conference as semi-finalists, Meeteetse builds a connection between individual homes and a local community center that is designed to encourage active involvement in community events and create a support network for those who might otherwise be isolated by the effects of old age. The design consists of several parts that work together to build this connection. A location-aware digital camera and a large public display are integrated into the community center to strengthen shared identity. A touch-screen scheduling device and a digital picture frame create a tangible community presence in seniors' homes. Together, these components enhance social well-being and lower the barrier for participation in the community. Our final conference paper is viewable here.