The differences in production are large between an experienced and an unexperienced operator, for example, and if the machine becomes easier to use, it will lead to a production increase. Another example of how the production can increase is Support systems for decision making which helps the operators to perform their jobs. Motivation is an important factor for an individual to both know the job but also to be able to perform well. The feedback is important to keep up the motivation and it is also a good way to constantly learn new things. The stakeholders in the project group also puts emphasis on the soft values that are important to the operator. Bringing soft values in the design of future machines is particularly important when the machines become more and more advanced.
Devoting a lot of time for research proved to be very beneficial in the ideation phase. We went on three forest trips where we got to spend one shift with forwarder and harvester. They were quite insightful as we found out some of the most important issues that they face during their work, such as feeling a lot of pressure to be fast and efficient in means of cutting as many trees as possible for the harvester and quickly transporting the logs to the landing area where we they get picked up by a truck for the forwarder. This gave us many chances to interview operators and get to know in detail their work environment. We also visited Komatsu Forest - one of biggest companies producing forestry machines. We were there introduced to current system located in the machine and its GUI. We talked also to a planner and project leader in big forestry companies. Although they weren't people we designed for we learned that they affect the operators and also got to know the forestry industry system in Sweden what gave us overview and ability to zoom out while designing our solution and see how it fits in the bigger picture.
ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH METHODS
In this curse we had the opportunity to learn and use some of the ethnographic research methods to collect and process data from our research. Mapping out and building sceneries was a playful way to communicate the research finding and reflect on them to better understand what happened. It also allowed us to look at our findings from a new perspective and recall all the happenings .
ENACTING RESEARCH FINDINGS
Also method of building theater alike sets picturing field research findings was a great way to analyse them in a new way. We used stories we collected in the field to build a small narrative and enact it using picture backgrounds and simple figurines and paper props. While creating the narrative we were forced to reflect on relations between different people we met and their situation.
In the field we collected many stories from the operators about their likes, dislikes, accidents, reasons they took this job, fears etc. We used legacy story templates to showcase each of them and connect them to look for patterns and problem areas.
ONE SHOT VIDEO AS A WAY TO KEEP TRACK
One shot video was amazing tool introduced to us by our tutor. It was a video in which we showed result of each day of work without cutting it, everything was shown in one shot. We used this as a way to document our process and communicate remotely with tutors and give them overview for the feedback.
LECTURES WITH EXPERTS
During the research phase we also had opportunity to meet researchers and experts in forestry field. Those people brought necessary knowledge to understand the system and the environment the operator is working in. We were also able to look into topics of current forestry reasearch and see what problems are the researchers working on. We stayed in contact with few experts and used the contact to evaluate and consult our ideas.
We also looked into already existing papers and articles about topics like machine operators working environment, fighting monothony at work, way to focus at work and ways to make people proud of their occupation. Many of those articles were not forestry related but touched upon jobs with same problems like fatigue, repetetivness etc. Those articles brought intresting solutions from other fields and inspired us in our reaserch.
After collecting some insights we decided to focus on knowledge and its transfer. To gain more understanding in this topic we created a questionnaire that we than posted on biggest forestry forums in Sweden. We got over 30 replies and got some interesting and shocking results. What stroke us most was that the operators never get positive feedback, they only hear the bad feedback. Also vast majority admitted that they love this job because of the love to nature.
- Learning gap between school and work environments
- Undoable mistakes f.ex once wrong tree has been cut
- Stress and pressure from need to be efficient and make profit
- No support for further learning
- Lack of communication between different actors in system
- Need to preserve the nature
WORKSHOP WITH PRIVATE CONTRACTORS
In the ideation phase we started with creating ideation workshops. First of them was conducted with private contractors. Many of them worked for years as operators. We prepared a picture of empty forwarder cabin and set of tokens with things that possibly can be placed in the cabin. Some of them were serious tools like joystick or phone and some of them were more playful like joke machine or Spotify. We learned through this what are the priorities of operators when it comes to their work environment and what they wish they could have to support them.
WORKSHOP WITH STAKEHOLDERS
In the second workshop we wanted to ideate on topic of knowledge. Once again we had people from forestry industry participating. We decided to start by enacting a metaphor. We showed cooks as example of people with knowledge they gained in different ways. Than we asked every participant to share with us one thing they learned about cooking and tell us how they learned it. This simple task made everyone engaged since food is very common topic and everyone could relate to it. After sharing session we flipped the figures and background revealing silhouettes of operators and view on forest and forestry machines. We asked question "How operators can transfer knowledge?". Simple introduction worked well as a warm up and enabled people to smoothly move to talking about knowledge within forestry. We gathered useful ideas and insights.
3 DIFFERENT IDEAS
Ideation phase showed us many good directions and from there we developed three concepts. From the research phase we were focusing on knowledge. After the ideation it became clear that the problem we want to address is knowledge gap, more precisely knowledge gap between young and experienced operators. From the research we knew that the school environment is very different from working environment of operators. We also knew that during first years very big percentage of young operators quits because of various reasons. We decided to look for a solution that would support them and help them during those most difficult first years. We decided to use the machine as the medium for transferring the knowledge. We developed 3 concepts where we used different technologies to support the operator ( HUD, haptic feedback, VR ). We created one shot videos describing our concepts and presented them to a forestry researcher and former operator that is currently a trainer for operators. They helped us pick the concept with a conversational user interface that in their opinion could bring the most impact on work satisfaction and efficiency.
PROTYTYPING AND TESTING
Since we knew from the research papers that there are studies trying to test HUD technology for the forestry machinery use we decided to use this solution as a base for our idea and possible future solution. We used simple scenario to enact our idea. Storyboarding and enacting revealed weak points of our concept that needed to be adjust. This method also showed if everyone from my team sees our idea in the same way and gave us opportunity to align our vision of the solution.
WORKSHOP AT SCHOOL IN BURTRASK
After refining the concept of an assistant in form of conversation user interface we went to school for operators to test with them our idea in form of a workshop. We still needed input on what the assistant should help with. We asked students to create their timetable by matching things they want to learn with the time. We also asked the to fill up some of the cards with their own ideas of things worth learning. This allowed us to see what topics are still problematic for them and in which one they are not confident. This became the base for the functions of the assistant.
WIZARD OF OZ TESTING WITH OPERATORS
Before finalizing the concept we created a wizard of oz test of our Interface. We brought two operators to test with them. In the test we used projector to prototype HUD by displaying graphics over images and used Skype call as a way to bring in the voice of assistant. The operators could ask a question and see the visual information and hear the audio feedback. They also helped us refine the way the personality of the assistant would be defined. they preferred to have control over it and really liked the idea of adjusting parts of the personality like being formal or informal and giving a lot or very little information.
SHOOTING FINAL VIDEO
For showcasing our concept we decided to produce a concept video. We used two types of footage. One was captured in the forest with go pro and it was an operators point of view on the surrounding while operating machine. Second one was operator interacting with the assistant inside his cabin. Second footage was shoot in a photo studio using green screen. So later on we could combine those two parts and show operator working in the forest and interacting with the assistant. We developed also graphics and layered them on top of our video to show the concept of information displayed thrugh HUD
PART II : GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE
BRINGING THE ASSISTANT INTO THE MACHINE
USING CURRENT SYSTEM AS A BASE
Second part of our course was devoted to indyviduwall exploration of GUI. I decided to create the system of setting up the assistant. For the base of my system I used already existing solution. I wanted our solution to be compatible with current machine so that it can be implemented without the need to buy another machine.
WIREFRAMING THE SYSTEM
I used wireframes to sketch out the system and connections between single screens making sure they are logical. In this stage I also defined the functions available for the user. The operator was able to adjust the elements of assistants character by moving sliders, save different settup of assistant with connection to weather and f. ex terrain, he was also able to predefine the options that will be showcased on HUD without him giving the command to the asisstant.
For my interface I decided to create set of custom icons to address characteristically for forestry terms such as "forest owner" "harvester" "forwarder" "wet areas" etc.
My final interface consists of 4 screens with 3 functions. The assistant is located on the main screen of current system and can be used by any time during the shift. For the Interface I used dark colours and bright symbols and typeface for a good contrast and bright colours for indicating interactions and active functions.
Main learning in this course was how to design for professional user. I learned that it is much different than designing for everyone else. I also had opportunity to dig deeper into research phase and explore new tools. Another big lesson was how to with simple methods prototype more complex solution f.ex using simple graphics with opacity to prototype HUD.
In the project we all took very active part in the research - interviewing and observing the operators. My role was to create, prepare and conduct the workshops and user testing. I also designed and staged our presentation showcasing our idea to the stakeholders.