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Introduction

About Pack

Pack is a device that attaches to your dogs collar that allows owners to discover, learn and connect with other dogs in their community.

Meeting other dogs is a highly important part of a dog’s life, just as meeting other people is an important part of ours. Getting to know different dogs can be difficult, especially with sporadic onetime encounters. There is no easy way to turn these one-time interactions into a relationship.

Pack tracks your walks, who your dog meets, for how long and builds a list of your dogs closest friends. By creating a community, Pack allows owners and walkers to know when friends are around without revealing the owners personal information. This helps provide you and your dog with a support system.

Preface

Hello, I’m Jeffrey Gochman. I’m a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City studying interaction design. This website documents my process from ideation to final concept of Pack.

Why I Design

There are many reasons while I design. Design helps to connect people. It’s a great way to teach and to learn. It can be used as a tool to demonstrate concepts and ideas.

I design because I like to create. I like to improve. I am inspired by seeing problems that I want to solve and looking at the different angles to find solutions. I have the power to change and alter the way in people interact now and in the future. I have the ability to improve and work on solutions that can have huge impacts on the way in which people behave in their everyday lives. It gives me a sense of responsibility and happiness to know that I have the option to make the world a better place to live, or at least a world that I think is better.

Graduate school has changed my approach to design and the way in which I can communicate my thoughts and ideas. I have learned new ways to problem solve and share ideas. I design because I want to challenge myself to push the boundaries of what’s possible while trying to enhance everyday issues.

It’s also about experimentation and discovery and using design as a tool to share a story by representing my thoughts and feelings. Les Brown once said “It’s necessary that you be flexible. That you are always thinking of how can I improve this better. It’s necessary for you to always explore various ways in which you can improve the quality of service that you are providing for the people. No one can do it for you but you. Perfection does not exist -- you can always do better and you can always grow”. Things can always be improved. Design is always evolving and new solutions are always being created. I design because I want to continue to explore various ways to solve and improve current problems.

And that is how I approached my Thesis

Purpose Statement

Interest

I have always been intrigued with physical products. Growing up, I would always open the electronics in the house to see what was inside. There is something intriguing about physical electronics and the mystery to how everything works.

This intrigue has led me to want to focus on building a physical product for my thesis. It is important to me to think of how we can bridge together the physical and digital space. Before deciding to get my masters I was solely focused on designing for the digital atmosphere. Now that I had the opportunity I wanted to explore how our lifestyle can be enriched and enabled by technology and how it can give people a better insight into their daily lives. I wanted to be able to make someone else’s life better.

Bridging Digital and Physical

“We used to talk about living online and offline. But more and more, we are creating seamless paths between the two, creating a complete lifestyle, enriched and enabled by technology rather than engulfed by it.

The Super Bowl, for example, has long been a marketer’s mecca — one of the last good, mass audiences for broadcast advertising. Just look at how the Super Bowl has become more digital and more social at the same time. There’s more content online, more user participation, and at the same time, advertisers’ actively seeking to create opportunities for real-world consumer interaction as a critical and integral part of the “experience.”

Focus

I knew I was going to be researching, prototyping, and designing around a topic, and wanted it to be something I am passionate about that is personal t o me. Creating something that has meaning gives me more inspiration to want to succeed and provide a better connection with the work that I am doing.

Do I focus on something very personal? Something that irritates me? Something I want to see changed in the future? People that I think can use the help? With so many questions and possible directions it becomes scary to think of choosing a specific topic and focusing on that for over a year. There is a certain fear of choosing a subject that I could find later was the wrong decision.

The two topics I gravitated toward were health/education and connecting people, while continuing to think about how this could integrate within a physical product. I design because it helps connect people and with that I have the ability to improve and work on solutions that can have huge impacts on the way in which people behave in their everyday lives. This topic of bringing people together seems to have carried through to all my ideation of different topics of interest to me. During my ideation, the ideas I captured were:

  • Ways in which people stay connected and share their stories.
  • How ideas and thoughts are captured and shared.
  • Meeting new people.

All these topics made me think of how I could build a better community.

Community

A community is defined as a group of people who have the same or common interests or a group of people who live in the same area. However it can mean different things to different people. It can be sense of belonging, a place where you find refuge and support, or people who are brought together because of similar traits (location, interests).

The sense of belonging and having a strong feeling of unity and fellowship in a community allows people to tie together in a unique psychological, sociological, cultural and physical way.

It is interesting to look at the how different people can establish themselves in their community. A large sense of community comes from a virtual space, in this community people can share their ideas, opinions, beliefs, perspectives and interests. This community can evolve over time through various interactions. People find community and the need to commune through sharing online. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn and similar companies, all provide platforms people to connect to one another.

Community is important to me. I have a community of friends, family and classmates but I don’t have a strong connection with the people who live the closest to me. People who I may see everyday and some who share a common interest with me.

Part of it is about being shy and awkward to approach people. Another part is the limitations around the venue or opportunity I have to meet and talk with people that I barely know. How can I build a tool that builds and allows for more efficient and stronger relationships? How can I gain a better insight in parts of our lives that are important to us and creating tools for other people to do the same.

Problems I Want to Solve

This led me to focus on two areas. The first is how to better understand your dog’s needs and the second is about the feeling of community. In more detail I broke it down as:

  • There is a lot of responsibility in owning a dog. They require love and affection, exercise, nourishment, shelter companionship and training. It can be hard to understand what your dog needs.
  • The sense of belonging and having a strong feeling of unity and fellowship in a community allows people to tie together in a unique psychological, sociological, cultural and physical way.



Importance to Me

Benefit to the world.
I want to build a product that represents my values. I am passionate about building a strong neighborhood and I want to make peoples lives easier. I want to give people the tools to provide an easy opportunity to talk and get to know their neighbors and the people in their local communities while allowing them to better understand the people around them.

I understand the value of owning a dog and the connection dogs have with their owners and their families. Having a dog is an experience that only other dog owners can relate to. This type of experience allows for an unwritten connection. I understand that other dog owners share similar interests and I want to give them the tools to better understand and learn from each other.

I want to be the first product that owners get for their dogs. Every dog owner needs, not just to connect to other dogs, but connect to businesses and services. Through connecting with each other, you make accessing other services easier. Through the connection and community it will create I want to allow other business to provide and build local services/products tailored toward them. Through this process I will be creating a new atmosphere in which services are created and provide new opportunities for other businesses, developers & individuals.

Benefit to the users.
There are plenty of social networks out there. These aim to connect friends and family, classmates and colleagues. There is no limitation to who you can connect with and from where. They can be thousands of miles away. Most of the time this connection stays online and doesn’t promote connecting out in the real world. It enables social support from a far distance. It informs you with what people are doing in their lives, giving you the ability to stay connected. It is hard to know who to connect to and who wants to be connected with.

There is the perception that people in a community shouldn’t be involved with each other. I don’t feel this perception is true and I want to develop a product that breaks it and helps people become more involved with each other. It can be hard to go up to someone and start a conversation. Only 25% of Americans know the name of their next-door neighbor. People who use social networks aimed at connecting you to your neighbors are more likely to talk to their neighbors in person and on the phone than those who don’t.

Through this community I want to make dog owners lives easier. There is a lot of responsibility in owning a dog. Your dog depends on you. They require love and affection, exercise, nourishment, shelter companionship and training. There is a lot of preparation in getting a dog and making sure they are happy. I want to make this process easier for people.

Benefit to myself.
Part of my goal for thesis was to understand the lifecycle of a product. What is involved in taking a concept and making it into a tangible working product. I want to come away with a greater understanding of designing a product for specific users, testing that product with them, and iterating based on feedback.

I wanted to provide a product and service that has meaning to other people. I wanted to come away with a product that is both eye appealing as well as functional. In the end I want to create something that is of value to a large group of people.

The user needs and design criteria

  • Provide a community for people that supports and promotes communication and collaboration.
  • Provide a solution that gives owners useful information to better care for their dogs and allows for better Insights into parts of their life.
  • Create more transparency and awareness within ones community.
  • Create an easy to use solution that provides a fluid experience from unpacking, to using, to setting up.
  • Help with time management.


Personal criteria - what are attributes that are important to you?
  • A functioning and testable prototype where someone would be willing to spend money on backing or purchasing the product.
  • An understanding of a product lifecycle, from concept to design to development.
  • A solution that combines both a physical product and a digital platform.
  • A concept and story that is well explained that people can easily understand.
  • A solution that makes my audience lives easier and provides them new and interesting insights.
  • A better understanding into the field of interaction design.
  • Understanding of technology involved and clear outline of next steps after final presentation.

Exploration

Go Pro

I have always been intrigued with physical products. Growing up, I would always open the electronics in the house to see what was inside. There is something intriguing about physical electronics and the mystery to how everything works.

This intrigue has led me to want to focus on building a physical product for my thesis. It is important to me to think of how we can bridge together the physical and digital space. Before deciding to get my masters I was solely focused on designing for the digital atmosphere. Now that I had the opportunity I wanted to explore how our lifestyle can be enriched and enabled by technology and how it can give people a better insight into their daily lives. I wanted to be able to make someone else’s life better.





Awareness Experiment Through Twitter

Prior to my final concept, I went through multiple experiments and ideas.

One of my first experiments was to dig deeper into the feeling of connection through awareness. I wanted to see how I would feel if I knew other people were participating in the same activity as me. I took an activity I did multiple times a day alone, walking my dog, and tracked other people who were doing the same thing.

Through twitter, every time someone mentioned they were going to take their dog for a walk I had an led light up and the tweet emailed to me. Just in the first hour I had over 900 emails. These tweets gave me a better insight into the mindset around walking ones dog.

What was interesting was seeing the things people were talking about. These tweets gave me a better insight into the mindset around walking ones dog. Here are some of the tweets:

  • “Hope it’s warmer where you are. -10 this end=a very short dog walk”
  • “I’m #Bixby_HSSVCA an adoptable young #terrier mix #dog! Let’s walk & explore together”
  • “Today I didn’t feel like exercising, but I kind of did. So I took the dog for a walk. My usual 3km”
  • “I took my dog for a walk before around the block and I didn’t pick up her poop…. Took another walk and stepped in it #karma”
  • “ I just want someone to walk my dog with”
  • “ 70 degrees tonight. Perfect for a walk with the dog”
  • “Rewarded on dog walk to @WilliamsonPark #Lancaster sun setting over Morecambe Bay”
  • “Might take the dog for a walk (to buy that new cider with lime and bitters)”
  • “Just took the dog for a walk in the moonlight. My Newfie Big Adventure always on my mind. #fullmoon #gorgeous #training”
  • “Text me tmrw! I’ll bring my dog to youuu so she can walk somewhere different“

People liked to talk about things that happened or were currently happening during their walk. Including people they saw, the weather, etc. They also were reaching out to other people that they were going on a walk in order to see if others wanted to go with them.

How do I make this activity more social? How do I bring people who are doing the same activity at the same time closer together?



Instagram

I built a site that pulled live photos from instagram from different dog parks around New York City. This idea was an experiment in creating a sense of community with dogs in my neighborhood.




Sky’s the Limit

As an exercise, I though about if I had to come up with a concept for my thesis without thinking about how I would accomplish it. I came up with two ideas:

  • The first was looking at being able to automatically identity all the dogs that lived in your area. The scenario I drew up was when you move to a new a location you are automatically sent a list of all the dogs that live near you, categorized by which dogs would get along the best. The compatibility would be based off your dogs personality traits, activity, and who they get along with. At the same time, when there is a new dog in the area every one else is notified.
  • The second idea looks at community and the idea of creating personal parks or areas for dogs that get along with each other. The concept would pair your dog up with other dogs whose owners have similar schedules and at each day would give every one a time to meet at the park. If you were unable to get to the park at this time, one of the other owners could pick up your dog.

Ideation

  • Weekly pair up with dog owners. Provide information or distance you are willing to travel and sync your calendar. After the meet up you can decide to do it again or meet some one new.
  • Buddy system for new dog owners (mentor system). Get paired with some one in your area to talk with and have dogs meet up in a couple block radius.
  • Get paired with people with similar interest or activity. I am looking to do x, at x time. (event, dinner, walk, see a movie).
  • Helper for a new dog.
  • Share services (dog sitting and walking). I walk your dog you walk mine. Accumulating points or money to give back to shelters.
  • For people who want to know what it’s like to own a dod.
  • Build a story of your walks. Pulls in data points mixed with distance, time and speed and uses the data to write up a story.
  • Making the neighborhood more dog friendly
  • Opt in to an event service. New each week an each event is put together and hosted by a different member.
  • Installation to get people to meet.

Forming Concepts

Concept 1
I created a low-fidelity prototype that explored how all the different pieces of information a person would gather from walking their dog and how that data could be collected to form a story.

Concept 2
Connecting you with other dogs based on your preferences.

Concept 3
Pairing the ideas of community and tracking, I came up with a new concept for connecting dogs and their owners.

There are limited opportunities for people who don’t know each other to meet and connect. A common activity or interest can help bring people together. Through close proximity and repeated interactions through the shared lifestyle choice of owning a dog you can start to build strong relationships. This is why I decided to focus on creating a tool that allows for more efficient and stronger relationships by connecting people through a common aspect of their lives, their pets. I believe doing so will help them gain a better insight into parts of their lives that are important to them while bringing them closer to other dog owners.

The idea focuses around local dog owners and uses the dog as the medium to connect and build relationships with other people in ones community. The ultimate solution, at this point, was to be around a physical device that goes on ones dog that helps it connect with other dogs. Through this entry point, the device would provide people a platform for conversation, notifications, awareness and insight that gives people a sense of community in their physical space.



Research

Numbers

There are 70-80 million dogs in United States. That means there is about 46% of US homes that have a dog. Most of them consider their pet to be part of the family. People are spending an all-time high on their dogs. American alone spend around 55 billion dollars on their pets last year. This isn’t only for food, but for holiday gifts, specialized beds, and personal trainers.

People want to make sure their pets are happy. Owners want to get a better understanding of how their dogs are feeling and gain more insight into their lives.

Survey

I interviewed 57 dog owners online using https://www.survata.com/. Some background on the participants:
23 = Ages 13 to 17
22 = Ages 18 to 24
1 = Ages 25 to 34
5 = Ages 35 to 44
6 = Ages 45-44
1 = Ages 55 to 64
50% = Male & 50% = Female

Ranging from all over the United States. Including (AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL< GA, IA, IN, LA, MA, MD, MI, MO, NC, ND, NJ, NM, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA, WA, and WI)

I asked them 6 questions.

  • How long have you had your dog?
  • How do you make friends while walking your dog?
  • What support system do you have for your dog?
  • What are regular parts of your dogs social routine?
  • How do you decide where to walk your dog?
  • Does your dog walker provide you with any information about their walks?

A summary of some of the results:

How do you make friends while walking your dog?
36 people said they didn’t. 5 people mentioned being friendly/nice, saying hi or smiling. 4 people said they use their dog as the medium to start a conversation. 1 person said “They compliment my dog, and then we might talk about other things”. 10 people said they talk to the dog owners.

What support system do you have for your dog?
When discussing support systems the majority mentioned they just use their friends or family. Others also included having their vet and a professional dog care or some type of mix of all of them. 3 people mentioned not having any support for their dog.

What are regular parts of your dogs social routine?
31 people said they didn’t have any routine with their dog. The rest of the people discussed more social activities, including: having playdates with others dogs, meeting dogs at the park, getting together with dog or another person.

How do you decide where to walk your dog?
This was the most varied response. Ranging from the time of the day (after work, specific times), location (backyard, neighborhood, closest, park) to other factors (weather, quiet streets)

Does your dog walker provide you with any information about their walks?
A majority of the people discussed that they didn’t have a dog walker. The ones who did mentioned their walkers leave them notes, pictures, and stories.



Interviews

Dog Owners

1. Westchester

I did two user tests with two people who were from Westchester. With both users I started by asking them a variety of questions around their behaviors with their dog and then ran them through a couple of app prototypes while recording the audio.
Some key notes from the tests:

  • Scooter was 1 month when he got him and 4 months when he first took him to the vet. Dog already had his shots from the shelter.
  • In order to initially find a vet, he looked it up on google and read a lot of reviews. There weren’t too many in the area, so he based it off the best reviews.
  • Now he has to take him for shots as he turns one and is looking for a new vet. Asking friends in the area who they use.
  • Doesn’t take the dog to the the dog park. Needs to get the dogs registered to take them to the park.
  • Has a specific route that he takes his dog. The area he lives in is a grid so depending on how far he wants to go he will take him past a certain street.
  • Scooter is good with all dogs, some dogs aren’t good with others so when he sees another dog he will ask the owner first if the dog is friendly.
  • Will bring the dog close but not close enough to play.
  • Has used a dog walker, but not often. Has a large support group to take care of dog (dad, brother, co-worker).
  • Good amount of dogs where he was living when he first had the dog. The dog was always friendly so it was easily to socialize.
  • A little worried about if the dog was getting enough exercise. Would work 6 hour shifts and didn’t know how much his roommate was walking him (didn’t know if or for how long his roommate would take him).
  • I would like to know what he is doing 24/7. When he is by himself, he is usually in one room by himself, I would like to know what he’s doing when I am not around.
  • Has a few friends but no one close.

2. NYC

John is a contract worker, in his 40’s, who lives in my building. He has two dogs and has lived in the building for over 18 years. I started out with some questions around when he first got his dogs, then we discussed how he walks, takes care, and socializes them. Afterwards he walked thorough some interactive mockups of the how the app would be used. Some key insights:

  • Has been living in the same building for 18 years.
  • Dogs are now 15 and 2.
  • Has a lot of experience of the area and people in the building.
  • Passionate about speaking about his dogs and knowing people in the building.
  • Knows a lot of the places around and hears about other peoples experiences. Knew about some other vets and groomers. Knew about where to board your dog and his different experience. As he has lived in the are for so long, he has talked to a lot of people and tried out different places. Also had a lot of experience to share.
  • Open to teaching about how to groom your dog. Knew about different tools that would be helpful to groom you dogs that you would only get from experience.
  • Brought Shadow to the dog park at Madisons square park, but had a bad altercation with one dog which had a bad effect as he was less then a year old. hard to bring him to the dog parks.
  • Has a specific schedule of when he takes his dogs out. Same times every day.
  • Has 3 different routes for 3 different times of the day. Because he gets bored and likes to meet different people.
  • Always stops for other dogs. Keeps dog on a short list. Always happy to see other dogs.
  • When asked is Shadow has a dog he played really well yet, “Not yet. I wish he did. After his incident at the dog park it’s been tough to take him to the park regularly. Other times he has tried to bring him to the park that same dog has been there”.
  • I defiantly do think about his fitness, especially since he has so much energy and the winter has been so brutally cold. He been good but I wish I could just let him run and he is so much happier”
  • “It would be great if the dog parks has specific times, like adult swim, if you know your dog is skiddish.
  • Really likes Meet-ups but feels a lot of the meet-ups are marketing something or put together but a company. Felt like everything was indoors and I don’t like that as much.
  • It would be good to know if the other dogs you are about to meet are aggressive.
  • Important for people who have dogs, is to see for owners to see the other owners relationship status.
  • Could be great for dog walkers. Could there be a version of the app for them or a different view for them. Easy way to share contact information.
  • “A lot of people are afraid to ask, but if you could say that you are okay with watching dogs within a certain area”.
  • I would walk someones dog for free because I am already out there walking my dog. I would even charge a very small amount compared to what professional dog walkers are charging.
  • I have certain skills, like cutting nails, that other dog owners may not have. Other owners may pay me 5 dollars to do it.
  • “Something that is interesting that I don’t see, if there is a dog in your building, can you see?”.
  • Would be great to play meet-ups across the hall, or across the street.
  • Could be very useful for adoptions. Could dog owners see information about dogs or even plan meet-ups or set up times to see those dogs.

Insights:
Awareness is something that people tend to be very interested in. Knowing how friendly certain dogs are and understanding the intent of the owner is important. This includes both seeing a dog down the street and understanding who is at a specific park before they get there. Most of the people I spoke with told me a story about an aggressive dog they encountered and how they wish they know more information about them. A lot of people described how it would helpful if they could plan meet-ups. Both information about the owner and the dog should provide context in deciding how to connect different users.


Dog Walkers

I spoke with a dog walker in Brooklyn named Kat. I was first introduced to her by Liz. Liz mentioned that she uses Kat as her dog walker and that after the walks Katz leaves her these detailed stories of the dogs walk. We met for some coffee and she gave me a inside look into her life as a dog walker. Her passion for dogs came off immediately. You could tell she cared deeply for the dogs she looked after. It was fun to listen to her speak about the different dogs she watches and the different corks that they do while they are on their walk.

Insights:
  • There is a community within dog walkers. It is very easy for them to identify each other. A lot of it is an unspoken connection and helping each other out in need. She told me a great story about how a dog got off leash and how all the dog walkers came together to find it.
  • She likes to share the special moments she has on the walks with the owners. This includes who they met, what they did, funny things that happened. Example - One of the dogs goes down on all fours when they approach their friends. These moments are missed by the owners and having Kat share them allows them to be part of it.
  • People are sometimes scared of dogs. It’s hard to tell if someone is friendly or not.
  • When she brings a dog to a different park, she discussed there can be clicks of people and that it can be hard to break into these group of people who already know each other It makes you feel like an outsider who doesn’t belong.
  • Tries to change up her route everyday
  • She meets all new dogs before hand and if the dogs are going to be walked together she tries to match them up with each other.

She also shared some of the notes she has left in the past as well as a long description of each dog.:
  • Beau has a small checklist of things for her visits. I’ll write that these things have been completed. I tell them how happy Beau always makes me, the way she’ll dance down a street on our visit, names of pups she met and small things like how cute she looked as she stopped to smell flowers!
  • I’ll include her bathroom business, what kind of strut she was doing that day, and then the small fantastic things of the day. Also, she’s very comical- she’ll pee like a lady, and then we’ll get Jake, and she’ll imitate him by lifting a leg! Ha! I also tell her family how happy she makes my heart : )
  • Bathroom business, the route we took that day, how many squirrels we sprint after, and all of the wonderful compliments they get! Sulley is so funny, because he always stops for a moment to appreciate the scenery. Mikey is always looking up in the trees for squirrels, and people love watching the two of them trot down the street! I always tell their parents how much I love them and how happy they make me as well.
  • He has made entire groups of people say “Oh! What a handsome man!” and is greeted by people we frequently pass as “Here comes the bear!”. I leave his bathroom business as well, but I always make sure to leave a short story about our adventures. There was one day that we passed a group of elderly women outside of a building, and my heart melted when all of them got these huge smiles on their faces when they saw him!

Dog Discovery

To get some feedback from potential users of my product and to help define the features I wanted to include I quickly put together a website that discussed my idea and asked for feedback. The creation of the site was a good exercise in thinking about what my end solution would be like, how it would work and what type of features would be included. It was also useful in trying to tell a story on how to sell the idea I had to other people.

I posted it around to a couple of blogs and dog communities. I was only able to target a small audience, but I got a couple of people to provide their feedback. There was mixed reviews.




Some of the reviews were:

  • “This is cool! Would there be an app that shows the info as well or would it all be on one device?”
  • “This sounds awesome! I’d use it!”

Most of the positive feedback came from the dog meet-up forums, where people were actively looking for their dogs to meet other people. In my exploration on where to talk to people about my idea, I found there were forums where people were trying to set up meet-ups with there dogs. Posts included:

  • “New to city and have a lonely friendless puppy!”
  • “My big-dog-reactive border collie mix needs socialization very badly.”
  • “Got a husky and want to find her some friends"

I learned I need to talk with more people and gauge a better sense of what people need and what they would use. I am going to reach out to some other dog owners and try to discuss with more people at the park. This product is not for every one and it is important on how I explain the product to help people better understand why and what it is. It is also important I learn if I am making peoples lives easier and am I actually improving on what people can already do.

Concept Video

Analysis

Competetive Analaysis

Wearable’s & Dog Devices

“Being able to get data and insight into something we care for deeply, like our pets, helps us to better understand what habits and changes can most improve our lives.

Because pets tend to go unattended throughout the day while their owners are at work or elsewhere, there is a greater need to for pet owners to know what their furry friends are up to and that they are safe”

Difficulties Organizing A Current Meet-up Online

  • Finding the people
    • Finding people interested.
    • Finding people who live close.
  • Expensive
    • Can be expensive to host a group meet-up with monthly fees.
  • Power
    • There is balance of power typically favorited int he organizer vs the other people participating.
    • Organizer selects location and time.
  • Learning about people
    • Who are these people that are interested in meeting?
    • Scary to meet people you have never seen before.
    • Are we compatible?
    • Will our dogs get along?
    • Do they interact with similar dogs?
  • First interaction is difficult
    • Building trust.
    • Getting past the awkwardness.
    • Understanding each others goals.
  • Scheduling
    • Finding a time that works for everyone.
    • Difficult to ask or provide different options.
    • Finding a location that is convenient.
  • How you communicate
    • How do you talk before, during and after.
  • Commitment, having people attend
    • Will people show up?
    • How do they communicate if they are late or can’t make it.
    • How to easily reschedule.
  • Tailored for groups, what about one on one./li>


Meetup.com

Kat Vellos wrote a medium article titled “A popup User-Research-UX-UI Redesign of Meetup’s member emails” about how users felt in their experience with Meetup and their email communication. During her research she spoke with 3 people face-t0-face and had 14 respondents to her online survey.

Some of the results are:

  • 86% of users said the best thing about Meetup is meeting new people.
  • 17% have attended an event with every one of their groups.
  • “I’d be able to find out more about the people I’m attending with”.
  • “I wouldn’t have to fill out a long introduction every time I want to follow a groups events”.
  • “It would be easier to identify the group when I arrive to a Meetup”.
  • Geolocated map showing events close to me.
  • “It would be easier to identify the group when I arrive to a Meetup”.
  • “One thing that I really like about Eventbrite is that it will tell me on my phone if something interesting is in my area. It would be great if Meetup did that too”.

Look at the current system:

System

Audience

Core audience includes:

Dog Owners:

  • It allows puppies to socialize early with others dogs.
  • It’s a resource of information for helping people out within a community.
  • It’s a platform for discussion, and events.
  • Provides tracking into the dog world, including locations, best routes, and places people go with their dogs.
  • It helps people better understand more about their dog and other dogs around them.


Dog Walkers & Sitters

  • A relationship builder between an owner and their dog walker.
  • Better understand their dogs’ behaviors, goals and attitudes and who they get along within the community.

System Maps





User Journey




For the second user journey I mapped out difference moments that happen during the lifecycle of owning a dog. During each moment I correlated how one might feel, the questions they might have, where they might go to find answers and how a new solution could help.



Physical

Form

Plastic

As I first started to explore the physical form, I wanted to take different approaches in prototyping the wearable. At first I started with sketches and then plastic. I used a Moldable Plastic called instamoprh. It is described as modeling compounds that becomes moldable when warm and solidifies at room temperature and to remold again just reheat. The issue I found was that it hardened really quickly, so without having a great understanding to what the final form was going to be I didn’t have much time to explore.

Clay

In order to quickly sculpt and play with different forms that were more related to my sketches, I moved to clay. I found this form was much easier to work with. I was able to quickly iterate and identify different form factors that I liked and disliked.

3D Modeling

In preparation for thesis, I took an introudction to Maya class to learn a 3D modeling tool that would help bring my ideas to life. It was definitely a learning curve, but I was able to learn as I went. I wanted to model the form and function of the device itself and how it would attach to the dogs collar.

For each iteration I played with form, size, lights, charging, and straps.

Below is a timeline of where I started to final concepts.




Though each major step I would print the device and fit it on multiple dogs to test as well as see how the light could project.


During each stage I rendered the device to see how color, material and texture would feel like.


My final concept was three pieces. One that attaches to the dog, the device itself, and the charging station.

Technology

Part of understanding how Pack would work was figuring out what technology was possible to make it happen. A major aspect of the device was being able to wirelessly connect with other devices. In order to do this I experimented with rfid chips, wireless xbees, and different types of radio frequency chips.



The nRF24L01, as seen above, is a very inexpensive transceiver that runs in the 2.4ghz space. These radios have a short onboard antenna and can get almost 300 feet. The idea was to have two or more Arduinos be able to communicate with each other wirelessly over a distance using RSSI, or received signal strength, to determine the distance between two devices.



As a second step to try and record RSSI, I focused on setting up two Xbees hooked up to my computer. RSSI is the measurement of the power present in a received radio signal. It is the measure of the power level that a Radio Frequency device is receiving from the radio at a given location and time. Usually, the higher the RSSI the better the quality and speed of the communication through the radio device.

XBee modules have an RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) pin that outputs a PWM signal representing this value. PWM or Pulse Width Modulation is a technique for getting analog results with digital means. Digital control is used to create a square wave, a signal switched between on and off. This on-off pattern can simulate voltages.

There are multiple XBee models. The series 1 or XBee 802.15.4 modules operate a standard point to point network vs. the series 2 which uses the ZigBee mesh protocol. Because the Series 2 operates in the mesh protocol it doesn’t include RSSI information in the packet.

In order for our XBees to communicate, they must be configured so that they know how to send information to each other. The PAN ID and Channel settings should be the same on each XBee and the my address should be unique to each XBee.

In order to be configured the Xbee, I am attaching it to the Lilypad and then connecting the Lilpad to the computer through the FTDI Breakout board. The breakout board is connected to the male headers on the Lilypad Xbee board and then plugged into the USB cable to both the board and the computer.

Through this method I was able to open up a terminal on two different computers and have the two Xbees wireless communicate with each other.

Next I tried broadcasting the Xbees in API mode. API allows me to:

  • Change parameters without entering command mode
  • View RSSI and source address on a packet by packet basis
  • Receive packet delivery confirmation on every transmitted packet

Through this approach I was able to continually send messages back and forth and read the RSSI value for each message through the terminal.

Next step was using the Lilypad to have the Xbees communicate without being attached to my computer.

App

Design Evolution

The app went through many iterations and testing. I had users walk through different scenarios as well as use it while they were with their dog.



Branding



User Testing



Final Concept

Video

Device

Pack is made up of two parts: the strap that attaches to the dogs collar and the device that can easily snap off to charge.



App / Walkthrough


App / Setup



App / Main

Demo


Future

10 years from now

Imagine the world 10 years from now after your thesis has been successful beyond your wildest expectations. What will have changed for individuals? And how will your thesis have changed culture and interactions more generally? How is the world better? Are there any drawbacks?

In the last 10 years, communities and small neighborhoods have becoming closer. Technology, which in the past was seen as a barrier, is now used to bring neighbors closer together. 50% of people now say they know at least four other people in their building, and up to fifteen within a couple block radius. This number is up from 18% in 2015.

Pack rethought how to turn common, one time interactions into blossoming relationships. All of this was done through the common connection of owning a dog. "I never thought taking care of a dog would be so easy. Most of the people I would see during my daily walks with my dog have become my closest friends. Without pack I would never have realized how much we had in common. What started off as a simple request for our dogs to meet-up, turned into a daily routine.”

Ever since the wild success of pack, how people view meet-ups and setting up time to get together has changed. Current meetup systems are changing their approach to mimic how easy, informative the pack systems is. Utilizing technology to understand our behaviors and using that information to make our decisions easier.

People are feeling more comfortable getting a dogs as the responsibilities are becoming easier to tackle. "I heard from my parents that owning a dog would be a lot of responsibility. Getting him enough exercise, socializing him, finding a vet, a groomer, a trainer. This all sounded exhausting. But we no longer live in a unconnected world. I am connected to all the dogs around me and am able to get all the knowledge, insight, that they have to offer. Being connected to all the dogs in your neighborhood provides you with a support system that was never there before. You are no longer owning a dog by yourself, but have help from the people who live the closet to you".

The amount of dogs in adoption centers has dramatically increased. Shelters are able to learn more about the dogs that come through. They are able to let dogs they understand will get along play with each other, causing happier more nourished. People are now able learn about the dogs before they even step into the shelter. This takes away the time and effort from workers, which is being apples to better care.

City has become more dog friendly. People are less afraid of dogs. Businesses have gained more insight into what dogs want in their community. They have started to tailor hours, location, and services to better fit the needs of the community.



Expansion



Helping current dog owners is just the beginning. Pack can expand to pounds, shelters, vets and people who don’t have dogs. Shelters and Pounds can use Pack to share information about dogs that are looking for homes and schedule times for people to come in and meet them. Vets can use the information Pack collects to know more about your dog and understand any health issues before arriving. People without dogs can learn which dogs are friendly before approaching them on the street.



Acknowledgement

The past 2 years have been an intense and exciting experience. I owe thanks to a lot of people for helping me get to where am I and supporting me through the years.

First my family:

Family are the people who are always there for you. They encourage you, provide you hope and comfort, give you advice and ideas, and help define your morals and values. They help you grow as a person by helping you through your journey. They make you feel secure and happy, regardless of what else is going on in your life.

My parents are my biggest supporters. It has always been hard for me to show them my appreciation. They have done so much for me and it’s hard to let them know how thankful I am. They define who I am and have shown me what it means to be a good person.

My mothers compassion, empathy, and calmness even in the face of extreme challenges gives me something to strive for. She has taught me to keep a level head, to help other people and to never take anything for granted. My dad taught me how to be patient, determined and understanding. I see more of myself in him every day.

My parents help me realize everyday I can do whatever I want and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Lauren and David you both provided continuous support, great feedback, meal breaks, and amazing acting skills.



Thank you Nanny and Grandpa. You helped make my ideas of going back to school a reality. Thank you Gorman and Katy for your awesome work on the video. Thank you Roger for all your help, advice, and insight. Thank you to all my fellow IXDers. I couldn’t ask for better group of people to work with. You all inspired me