Video Probes

November 12, 2010

Since my first post on Video Probes I have been developing the use of the design research method through a series of studies. The video probe is a specific time framed video response to a question. The first study was conducted with Dance Base (as previously posted). The participants were asked – “what are your perceptions of dance base?” The responses were then used to help inspire and inform the design of the connected Collection Boxes as well as gain a greater understanding of the people and place.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

The second study was conducted with MSc Ethnography students at Dundee University as part of a deeper study into self-service (more about that later). The student groups approached the probes in very different and interesting ways. Some using it more as a field work tool, others to strengthen their initial insights, others were able to communicate their insights through the probes in a very clear thought provoking way.

The groups were split to focus their field observations on different influencing factors of self-service – Interactions, Transactions, Environment, Consumers.

Their Video Probes can be viewed below

Interactions: 

Transactions: 

Environment: 

Consumers: 

We will now be using the insights from the Video Probes and other activities to inform a project that aims to gain a greater understanding of consumers in relation to self-serivce.

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Video Probes

March 23, 2009

I have been developing a research technique to be used at the beginning of the design process to help understand and gain insights to users and aid in the generation of new concepts.

Video probe snap shot

Video probe snap shot

This method uses short 3 minute videos to record images, surroundings and people so the researcher can understand more about the participants perceptions of a product or space.

The Video Probe can be used on various levels.

Inspiration: Analyzing the videos to generate a range of different ideas specific to a particular design challenge. The videos help the researcher to pick out details that may otherwise have been missed.

Understanding of participant: As a designer I am engaging with people, places and communities I know nothing about. The 3 minute videos allow me to very quickly get a better understanding of the various stakeholders, the environment and challenges.

Understanding of community: As part of my research I am studying self-service products in a community environment – using the video in this way is a better method for capturing the wider community as opposed to a photograph as it shows the participants interaction in real time. The videos can be viewed through the eyes of the participant, as opposed to viewing the participant using a machine/in an environment.

Promotion: A surprising outcome of the method has been how it has also been useful for the participants. The quality was such that they have been able to use the videos created as promotional material for their business.

Use within Industry: This method is appropriate to my research as it allows me to quickly get an understanding of the people, place, and product. This method can be used within a large multi-national corporation to help us try and better understand various elements of a users experience, a users day to day activity or environment in which our product will be situated. It is a method that does not require a huge investment. The researchers time is not taken up actually recording as the video camera is left with the participant.

Some of the strengths of this activity are:

Involvement of the participant in the design process ensures a closer relationship with the researcher and therefore a better understanding and appreciation of the final solution.

Useful output: valid not just for one particular project. Ability to build up an audio and visual record of a community of people within an environment.

Ease of use: Allowing the participants to simply play with the video camera can be a fun and enlightening process. There is no pressure on the participant to suddenly become the next Steven Spielberg…a 3 minute limit (no strict restrictions on time) has been set to so they do not become overwhelmed by the thought of creating a movie.


It should be noted that the use of the probe is only as useful as the researchers ability to be able to pull out the information or ability to be inspired by what has been recorded. 

Experience Prototyping

November 3, 2008

To really understand the market | community | environment you are designing for it is important to immerse, observe and participate in their world – walk a mile in their shoes..

experience prototyping

Working on a collaborative research and design project with a national dance school meant I had to join a dance class…Thankfully there was a wide range of classes available and I thought I would opt for the strangely titled Alexander Technique. It was described to me as a ‘movement-based way of thinking’. As it turns out it was a very relaxing class, we spend most of it on our backs!

Alexander Technique class

The class helped me gain an understanding of how people use and interact with the space, who goes to the classes and why. This is the initial stages of an on-going design exercise. Approaching the project in this way will allow me to create a product that satisfies all the users needs and importantly lets the varied stakeholders be part of the design process.

Collection Boxes

October 15, 2008

They are on almost every shop counter, outside most museums, in churches to bars. How many of these do we see, walk past or ignore every day?

collection boxes

collection boxes

Is it the design of the collection box that is the problem or our attitude to charity? How could the design and interaction of these prolific objects be improved to encourage people to not only donate, but to do so time after time?

Ive been developing products in this area, for more details on this check this blog entry: Connection Boxes. For an update on them check this link: Connection Boxes MkII

Community Objects

September 30, 2008

What are Community Objects?? Objects, products, services, things, stuff – that is in and used by the people in your community. This could be anything from a church clock, a public telephone or a self service bike.
bike dispenser

bike dispenser

There are interesting questions raised on things like ownership. Do we really need to own a car when we can use such services as StreetCar? Would you want the old red public telephone box at the end of your street to disappear? (even if you’ve never used it..)
Community Objects are a vital part of any village, town or city. Take them away and you take away its heart. The community loses the ability to function, interactions are stifled and communications broken.
We have set up a flickr community group that will hopefully in time become a visual database/collection of the vast array of community objects that we may use, value, pass by or ignore everyday. PLEASE feel free to add to this!