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HCI Prototyping Interactive Systems Mid-term project

The challenge was to come up with new ideas for an existing product from early 2000s and create a hardware + software prototype of how the new one might look like with the use of new age technology that the older model lacked.

Duration: February and March 2018

Members: Parth Patel, Niranjan Kshirsagar, Siddhant Bhandhari, Karthik V.

Role: Research on the pain points that might have existed for users while using the product, brainstorm for solutions of the form factor as well as ideas that could improve it. And then create a low fidelity prototype which can be tested with a sample set of users and creating high fidelity prototype based upon the feedback received during testing.

Audiovox Homebase


Our team conducted primary research on the 1st generation of product to find out its flaws and on how today's technology an be utilized on improve the product.

Based on our research, we found that the product ran on batteries, screen only consisted of 1/4th part of the front side, while rest was being occupied by the whiteboard for scribing notes using a marker pen and also for posting sticky notes. There were no internet connection capabilities like Wi-Fi or ethernet for syncing the content, hence needed a SD card slot for data transfers.

Sketching - Form Factor

We explored various form factors like sliding projector screen, holographic display on a drone, a robot on wheels, smart band, BB-8 like rolling ball with holographic display. But in the end, after considering all the pros and cons of the above form factors we decided to go with the traditional tablet/slate form factor. Because all the cons that came with the new innovative form factors were being technologically limited as we were told to make sure that the technology that we will be introducing in the final product needs to be very feasible and implemented within the next 2 years. The laser/projector/holographic displays would suffer from lack of brightness when being used under sunlight. Automated indoor drones would bring in the factor of safety as children might cut their fingers in the rotors. Rolling ball/robot on wheels would not be able to climb stairs that majority of the American homes have, hence limiting the accessibility of the product to a single floor.

Final deliverable of the project - Prototype of Jaanu

Sketching - Functions

Sketches for the form factor

We thought of adding various functionalities like an intercom system, smart refrigerator integration, family photo frame, thermostat integration, inter-family video conference, door chime integration, intruder integration, and many more.


We finalized the following functions after balancing the likeliness of them being implemented within the next couple of years:

  • White board for scribing messages within family members

  • A shared calendar for trip planning

  • Family photo frame screensaver along with a smart picture snapping bot

  • Alexa and Google Assistant integration


Sketches for the functionalities

The following videos show how Jaanu can be used by the family members using various features like whiteboard for intra-family communication, shared calendar, family photo frame along with a picture snapping bot and Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

Rolling bot with wheels and camera in the center

Finalized tablet /slate form factor

Jaanu Prototype whiteboard for note scribing

Example of the shared calendar functionality in action

Viewing photos on Jaanu while the camera bot takes pictures

The prototype that we were about to create needed to be portable, mountable on refrigerators and needed a mechanism that would enable it to be placed on any surface like kitchen platform, tabletop, dining table, bedside table, etc. We took inspiration from tablets for the form factor, but add a hinge to it in order to enable it resting on surfaces. The touchscreen is OLED and hence consumes less power compared to the screen on the previous model. We’ve also made the touch screen to detect simple note taking objects like a pencil or any kind of stylus.

The base for our prototype that we created was a touch-enabled laptop that can be flipped to a tablet. Hence, the prototype looks like a slate surface from the front once we created a casing for it. We decided to keep the touch interaction to a minimum and enable invoking all of the available features using Alexa as it is the most convenient means of interaction with technology now.

Home Screen showing the last scribed note

Feature to pin notes to home screen for frequent access, expanded view of the drawer in left corner

Grid of notes written so far and tapping on the check mark enables the pinning feature

Notifications shown on the hamburger icon for calendar, gallery, notes, or system messages

Shared calendar for family event planning

Gallery of the photos captured by photo capturing bot

Screensaver of photos depending on the person viewing it by using facial recognition

Ability to share the notes scribed on Jaanu with family members in group or individually

Screen showing the details that Jaanu will display upon asking her questions, e.g. weather


The following videos show how Jaanu can be used by the family members using various features like whiteboard for intra-family communication, shared calendar, family photo frame along with a picture snapping bot and Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

Note Whiteboard for inter-family communication

Family photo frame along with photo capturing rolling bot


Shared calendar for trip planning

We performed cognitive walkthrough to identify understanding the system's learnability for new or infrequent users and further tested it with 4 participants of age 20-30 to further get insights into the user experience.

We derived the following insights from the testings:

  • Integrate support for controlling IoT objects at home.

  • Need to including video calling.

  • Make subtle changes to the design to make it user friendly for kids.

  • More stylus options in whiteboard for a more realistic experience of notetaking.

  • We realized that we needed a logical evaluation and down selection technique to design the final product.

  • The techniques we used were value proposition and swot analysis.

  • We used a touch screen laptop for physical prototype, we would like to explore alternative option like arduino for more freedom in design demonstration.

  • The experience of creating video demo was a valuable tool in expressing different scenarios.

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