A workout system for the visually impaired. Because everyone should be able to exercise in the comfort of their home.
I participate in QUEST, an academic interdisciplinary honors program at the UMD Smith School of Business. In the first class of this program, BMGT190H, I was placed in a team of 5 students and tasked with identifying and solving a problem related to wellness. After 6 weeks of planning, empathizing, brainstorming, prototyping, interviewing, pivoting, and more prototyping... we designed Delilah: a speaker-camera workout system that facilitates independent at-home exercising for blind and low-vision individuals. The following is a retrospective of the problem identification, product designing process, and solution creation.
After receiving the initial prompt to focus on an issue related to wellness, my team decided to narrow down the focus by defining different "branches" of wellness.
Ultimately, we decided to focus on issues related to physical wellness. From there, we conducted interviews and found that people don't always have time to exercise (duh). Despite this obvious and admittedly cliché problem, we ran with it. Below is a "why ladder" we created during the brainstorming phase to get to the root of the not-enough-time-for-exercise problem.
We ideated and created a prototype for a "smart speaker" that had a screen and a voice interface that would walk the user through their workout.
We took this prototype idea to our classmates and got some constructive feedback.
From our peers' reactions to the initial prototype, it was clear that the value proposition of Delilah was not a compelling one.
After the first round of feedback, I was not feeling good about the product. What innovative solution were we really bringing? By defining such a large market, who were we really going to help? Nothing was particularly wrong with our design. However, our project was in graver danger: We weren't solving the right problem.
We went back to the drawing board with the goal of narrowing down our target market in order to create a solution to a more specific problem. Around this time, my Design, Cultures, & Creativity class began discussing issues of accessibility and how disabled people tend to be an afterthought in everyday design. With this mind, I went to the UMD Adaptive Technology Lab to get disabled students' take on impediments to their physical wellness.
The (New) Problem
This means that, currently, 70% of young blind people do not get enough exercise. The unique experience of being blind or having low vision creates a unique need for guidance when exercising. After all, many exercises need to be taught and trained before muscle memory kicks in and the exercise becomes a learned action. This lead many times to the necessity for a personal trainer, which can be expensive and inconvenient for the individual with low vision.
A workout system that facilitates independent, at-home workouts through:
- Feedback: A Computer Vision-backed camera provides form-correcting feedback so that the person can improve the quality of their exercise every time, eventually developing good exercise habits that they can take anywhere.
- Convenience: With a voice-first interface and a one-time home installment, users can enter any room and immediately start a workout, using an interface that feels native and comfortable to them.
- Affordability: At a suggested price-point of $250, Delilah provides more value per dollar than any personal trainer.
- Solve the right problem, first. Or it will end up costing you.
- Design is not arbitrary. Any decision we make has some reasoning behind it, whether or not we are aware of it. It takes a conscious effort to identify that reasoning, correct it if necessary, and ultimately strive to be intentional in even the smallest of decisions.