Notes From A Midweek Group Meeting…

On Thursday, my subject group and I met for a discussion of our work and to help ‘brainstorm’ some ideas to help each others research. here are the minutes I took from that meeting:

Meeting 23-10-2014


Feedback From My Interim Viva Voce, from the 20/10/14…

I’ve just listened to the recorded feedback my tutor, Bethan Gordon, gave me yesterday after my first interim Viva Voce presentation. While listening I’ve made some detailed notes. Some of these points may seem critical but they are all beneficial, they will form the foundation for my work in the coming week (and beyond) as I approach the start of my concept sketching phase.

Issues With Presentation:

– Too much text on slides.

– Consistency in slide layout.

– Introduce yourself and your topic, including background.

– Contents slide.

– Summary slide. Highlight the key findings to date.

– What works really well on paper doesn’t always translate well onto the digital screen.

– Consider using Prezi instead of Powerpoint.

– Brief needs to dominate a slide.

– Too much time spent discussing the survey, need to find the ‘salient points’.

– Represent some points pictorially.

Moving Away From ‘Justification’ to ‘Applied’ Research:

– Justification research is stating the facts to show there is a need.

– Need to move onto applied research.

– Currently have multiple aims, but I need one aim with multiple objectives (e.g. how we get there).

– Reference throughout to move away from speculation.

– Need to show demographic of the survey for credibility.

– Find the themes from the research, pull them out. – Less time on justification research, be more ‘punchy’ with showing the justification research.

– Justification research should: ‘set the scene, be rock solid, referenced, backed up (maybe) by the interview with the GP.’

– I highlighted what the problems are, but we need to know why they are problems. Only by understanding why they are problems, can we can understand how to solve them. Stating the problem isn’t enough. Pick apart the problems.

– E.g. I stated the fact (based on primary research) that people feel marginalised, this is the justification, but, to be able to solve the issue we would need to understand why they feel marginalised, what’s the consequence of that ect.  (this would be applied research) we can then start making mental pictures, looking at different ways of solving it.

– I have ‘good research’ but it’s coming out with very ‘obvious outcomes’,  I need to ‘dig deeper into individual elements of that research’.

– Summarise the research every now and then to establish where I’m up to.

– Beth suggested I need to work in a more diagrammatical format.

– Remember the importance of ethnography is to establish what people really do against what they think/ say they do. This could be the key to resolving the issue on this project. – Consider creating a simple poster in communal areas of the art school to encourage people to approach to discuss their asthma with me. (pass this by Beth first for ethical approval).

– Use YouTube as a form of ethnographic research, but issues found using YouTube may need to be cross referenced with primary research ethnography.

– For more information on poor inhaler technique, consider talking to experts and analyse existing research in more depth making sure to consider. Potentially get a group of inhaler users together, observe their inhaler technique to see if people correctly take their inhalers.

Medical Reserach:

– Beth highlighted I need a stronger medical theme throughout.

– Find medical regulations.

– Need to know the standards, not just British. – Leads to expansion of the brief.

– Anatomy and physiology of breathing.

– Consider clever ways of breathing e.g. things from nature (biomimicry). Osmosis, diffusion, ect.

– Better understanding of other inhalers, what’s already out there?

– I need either a ‘systems diagram’ or a ‘state transition’ diagram of how existing inhalers work.

– Consider: ‘Getting the inhaler (prescription), Giving it to the patient, to the person having it, to haw they use it, how they maintain it’ I need to use a systems diagram to understand how the existing format works in order to find issues. Need to tease out the issues with diagrams.

– Consider a hierarchy of all the issues I’ve found to establish which ones are most important, this will only be possible from observation of people. The ‘human element.’

Positive Points:

– Cross referencing –  Very good, relating survey results to secondary research and linking to GP’s discussions.

– ‘Excellent empathy test.’ – props and engagement are helpful.

– All questions in survey brought together and analysed together well.

– Using colours to highlight issues on the boards ‘worked really well’.

DISSERTATION: Why Biopolymers?

The reason I’ve chosen to base my technical report on biopolymers is down to a few factors:

– My desire to learn more about long term alternatives to synthetic polymers in manufacturing.
– Biopolymers are still finding their place within product manufacture but there is lots of research out there, I want to know more
about what makes a biopolymer a biopolymer.
– I want to find commonalities between the properties of common synthetic polymers and the most common biopolymers to find out why we
are still using synthetics over renewable polymers.

As the writing in my technical report will be solely technical, devoid of opinions and feelings about the topics discussed, I will use my blog to counter this and develop my own ideas and opinions on the topics discussed in the essay.

Diary of My Research to Date: How? Why? When?…

My primary research has started to come together, and is already providing me with some interesting data for my project. I decided to focus on asthma in developed countries, as opposed to in developing countries, for two reasons:

1) information and primary research is readily available.

2) Much of my secondary research shows that the scale of the issues with asthma in developed countries is massive, many of the issues have not been addressed.

I started my primary research by publishing a survey, which has, to date, had over 80 responses. the survey was not restricted to any specific demographic, because at this stage I am still interested to establish research from all potential users. Until I identify a specific target for the design, this will remain the case. The questions I have asked ranged from those of how frequently doses of medication are forgotten (if at all), to whether individuals have ever faced discrimination for their condition. The purpose of this research is to grasp an initial idea of where any issues with asthma treatment may lie, as well as to better understand and empathise with the user.

Another reason for such research, in my case, is because I myself am asthmatic. During my tutorials I have been made aware of the potential risks with researching an issue that I can so closely associate with, however, I believe that by the very fact that several of my survey results have produced surprising results to me is proving that my own experiences are not clouding my research.

I have supplemented my primary research with secondary research. The way I have done this is by recognising the most outstanding statistics from my survey results and using these issues as titles for further reading. For instance, in the case of one outstanding statistic, 51% of people said they forget to use their inhaler at least once a week. In this case, I sought secondary research to find out more information on why people forget to take medicines. This research has come (in the most part) from scientific papers and journals and shines further light on the issues I have uncovered.

I have also taken the outstanding statistics from my survey results forward as issues in my User Persona research. For this I have considered a broad range of users  (in recognition of the fact that asthma affects such a broad range of people) and I have associated 5 characters proportionately with the statistics for each issue. This gives me a visual reminder of how diverse the issues are with the condition.

Having already worked on a short Asthma project before I have also decided to consider some previous primary research taken in the form of a survey. However, at this stage I am not certain whether this research is relevant as it deals with the issues of the design of inhalers. As I am still in the research phase (and with plenty of reminding during tutorial periods) it is not yet time to consider solutions to issues. By considering statistics on inhaler design I run the risk of assuming that an inhaler is the best way to treat the condition. While this may turn out to be the case, I am not yet at a stage to assume so.

As part of my primary research, I hope to collect some more detailed and lengthy research in the form of user diaries. I have contacted Asthma UK with regards to primary research, and I am currently waiting on a response.

Asthma Project: The Work I’ve Completed This Week…

During the last week I have undertaken the following work:

– Prepared a Gantt chart for time management.

– Created a Product Design Process to follow for my project.

– Written up an Outline Brief to establish a start point.

Secondary Research

– Produced mood boards including one for existing inhalers and one for existing peak flow devices.

– Produced a User Persona board.

– Completed a fact video about asthma in the UK.

– Read numerous research papers.

– Watched BBC Horizon’s Allergies: Modern Life and Me

Primary Research

– Produced a survey and posted it to specific asthma pages on social networking websites. I have received 80 responses within three days and put this together as an informative info-graphic.

– Reverse engineered one variety of inhaler with a plan to reverse engineer another couple of varieties in the coming days.

– Analysed and summarised notes taken from discussions with a GP about asthma care and treatment.

– Considered some very basic idea conceptualisation, although further research is required before taking this stage any further.

The work I aim to complete in the coming days is:

– Continue primary research, produce a pro-forma for an ‘asthma diary’ to give to my target market, and establish some connections to maintain a diary for a week or two.

– Analyse the results from my survey to draw some conclusions on asthma treatment and living with the condition.

– Put together a presentation of my work to date in preparation for my first presentation next Monday.

– Undertake more reverse engineering to better understand how asthma is currently being treated.

If You Have Asthma, Please Complete this Primary Research Survey…

Asthma Survey.

I’m a Product Design student carrying out a project into asthma care.

If you have asthma, then please can you take a few moments to complete the survey. It should take less than 2 minutes to complete.

All results are anonymous and will help shape ideas for improving asthma treatment.

Thank you.

3rd Year Product Design, First Subject Tutorial…

Today I had my first product design tutorial with my tutor; Beth, and my tutorial group. I chose the tutorial group ‘Right’ as I believe strongly that design should be a tool for considering lots of things, not just producing renewed design concepts, but using design thinking to improve experiences, systems, processes. and products. The session was run with each person taking a turn to present their initial ideas for issues they’d like to design for, the rest of the group then offered ideas and opinions to support or enrich the discussion. I felt the system was very effective and the informal mood benefited creativity. I was pleased that I managed to contribute at least one supportive comment to each of my peers and I enjoyed presenting my own ideas. I felt my ideas were positively received and the advice I gained was very valuable, I now plan to produce an outline brief and look into primary research. I plan to produce a questionnaire for my target audience and target them (confidentially) on social media. Beth suggested I consider getting in touch with companies to collaborate with, and I am currently waiting to hear back from a doctor I have had research discussions with during the summer, which could lead to some connections in industry. Overall my first tutorial was very positive.