The association of social sciences and technologies throughout a project is now a reality in the field of research and innovation. What may now seem like an obvious practice was not, until recently, the case in the project cycle. So why is all the energy focused on the technical work alone? What are the benefits of introducing a dose of creativity and functional specification oriented towards uses as early as possible in the design cycle? It is important to remember at this stage that the thing invented and which is to be realized involves major unknowns of all kinds: social for acceptability or technical for feasibility, for instance.
Creativity and conceptualization
In the beginning, there are intuitions, preconceptions, and initial ideas that allow a project initiative to be launched. In the case of Stylocom, this starting point was twofold:
The written gesture appears to be an essential interface, at least complementary for portable terminals of really small size cell phone as obvious examples for the simple reason that the keyboard becomes too cumbersome; the technology using acceleration sensors can allow the recognition of movement associated with a pen-like object. In addition, this technology has the great advantage of being able to be integrated into a single electronic circuit and therefore offers interesting cost perspectives.
This video can explain it more:
The competitive study also confirmed this project initiative: products like the communicating pen are appearing on the market, and others are being studied. Handwriting recognition technology is spreading on terminals, replacing the keyboard, on light terminals such as PDAs or Tablet PCs, mainly through the use of a stylus and an associated touch screen. So in short, the project starts in a rather complex situation where products with strong technological choices appear and where uses are not yet widespread. This situation is not, in the end, so original at the beginning of a research and innovation project.
The objective of the design process is to put in relation, as quickly as possible and as the project progresses, the uses and functional needs with the technical feasibility and the constraints. The expected result of such an approach is a set of solutions that concern both technological bricks and validated interaction modes. At the end of this step, all the information necessary to write the functional and technical specifications for the prototype is available.
Initially, the design is based on a set of hypotheses that originate from the survey results. They are then developed during specific brainstorming sessions involving technical, sociological and ergonomic skills. These hypotheses concern the activities associated with the selected uses, the functional needs, and the contexts of use and the interactions of users with the pen. Another objective of these sessions is to bring out, in parallel to the elaboration of the hypotheses, a whole set of questions, both technical and ergonomic, on the design choices.