Encouraging more people to repair their devices and be more mindful of their impact..
Primary & Secondary Research, Iteration sketches, Storyboards, MS Maquette prototype, Unity Prototype, Website prototype.
Sketch, MS Maquette, Unity.
Devices are getting better and more complex, but with that they are also getting much harder to repair. Less repairability leads to people disposing their devices, increasing waste and creating a community that doesn't appreciate the technology they use every day.
Matter is an ecosystem with an online marketplace that connects technicians with customers for easier repair, and lets tinkerers find parts to encourage more people to engage in repair. The marketplace is accompanied by a VR training app that teaches the basics of repair.
Enable more people to repair and and reuse their devices rather than throwing them away.
Create a community with a better understanding of repair so device manufacturers are more considerate of the repairability of their devices
Usher in a new generation of repairable hardware that prioritizes waste reduction and reusability
Just describe what you see, no technical knowledge needed and a reduced risk of misdiagnosis.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to upgrade or offload, the marketplace lets you do it properly, no matter what condition your device is in.
Buy devices in varying conditions for your own use, tinkering, or repair.
Giving independent technicians the network and tools they need to expand their business and encourage more people to get involved in the craft of repair.
Get your virtual hands dirty in the Matter Academy VR app, designed to let you learn through tinkering.
My initial idea was to create a physical space where people could come together and learn repair. I later transitioned to VR because I wanted to make something with more freedom and a virtual world has that in abundance.
I started with some interviews and surveys targeting regular users (non-tinkerers and experts) to learn more about common repair habits.
Travis Lee helped me understand the repair ecosystem, and the economy behind repair and the motivations companies would have to block/enable repair.
"There's a whole second hand economy that comes with easily repairable devices."
"People are going to replace their phone anyway and someone has to deal with it, a fixable phone creates more opportunity for people cant buy a new one anyway and it creates jobs"
Kevin Purdy works as a writer for iFixit, a company that serves as a beacon for the Right to Repair movement.
"I think that certain companies will never quite care about repair. Companies that want to buy the cheapest thing sell it and make more. There's an endless supply of companies making disposable electronics."
Jonathan is a Tinkerer, someone who likes to experiment with electronics out of curiosity. Jonathan also has experience repairing phones for his friends in his free time.
"You help reduce waste, really big motivator. As a repairer you get a lot closer to the devices you repair everyday devices. A lot of consumers are disconnected from their devices. You are a lot more aware of the parts and products involved in creation of the device"
For these sketches I took inspiration from the interactive menu's I've experienced in VR from Tiltbrush, SteamVR, SUPERHOT, and other VR experiences.
I made it a priority to push myself towards more physical interactions and to avoid using screens where possible.
After much experimentation while trying to find the right prototyping app, I settled on Microsoft Maquette because it offers easy import and placement of objects and can export to the Unity engine.
Maquette is great, but at the time it didn't let me make prototypes interactive, so the next step was to move things into Unity where I could add some interactivity.
Unity ended up being more challenging and time consuming than I initially anticipated, so I wasn't able to complete my prototype. But I did get to a point where I had my assets in game.
As a designer, it was a fantastic experience to be able to make something and instantly be able to put on a headset and be immersed in it.
During the break I stepped back from my project and decided it was time to move on from the VR app to design the online marketplace component, along with an identity for the ecosystem.
Don't let tinkerers do professional repair. High risk, low reward. Instead, let them train in the VR app and tinker on their own until they have enough experience to be verified as a technician.
Since the website serves multiple high level functions, I had to be careful how I presented them so that each part can be seen by the relevant people and nothing gets buried. So I created 3 sacrificial prototypes and tested them with 'newbies'.
"I understand the site has a 'big 3' in functionality but I wish there was something explaining them in more detail."
"I can't really figure out what I'm supposed to do here. It doesn't feel like I'm in the full page."
"I like that it's all in one place, but there's too much stuff for me to look at."
Using a hover animation to reveal more information about each feature.
I changed the architecture of the home page from Repair Recycle Resell, to something that breaks down the features further since the previous categories were too generic.
Breaking the features down to specific pages, so that everyone knows exactly where to go and having every feature on an even level.
I did some user testing to see how the language was effecting the user's understanding of the features, I finalized on designs and writing for each section.
To get an idea on how to organize information in the product listings, I conducted a card sorting activity
Wireframing the user flow of getting a phone repaired by a technician
I loved doing this project from start to finish, because the topic is something close to my heart. Designing and prototyping in virtual reality was challenging and I'm glad I went for it and learned crucial lessons in developing a VR app. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 I wasn't able to have as much access to Technicians and other users as I would have liked so that I would be able to develop more detailed flows for them.
I will continue to work on this as a passion project of mine, and will try to finish the VR prototype by at least going through one repair process in Unity. Furthermore, I'd like to test the current state of the website with real users in person when possible.
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