Saturday, February 1, 2020

Active User Participation for Sleep Experience and Findings

As part of my 'Themes of study' framework, collaboration and active user participation are involved in my design process. After the follow up survey from the Are You Indistractable card game, I identified 8 participants who have showed interest to improve screen-time usage and are keen to take part in the sleep testing. All participants will be trying out the multi-sensory sleep testing that I developed in Semester 2.

The main objective of this testing was for participants to share feedback of the experience and comments on how to improve the designs together.

How the experience testing was carried out:
1. Pre-interview with participant
2. Participant to shower before the experiment
3. Experience testing is an hour. Experience includes a multi-purpose blanket up for participant to customise before testing starts, a pulsing light and sleepy app music playing in the background.
4. Participants are tasked to test and explore the individual products - synchronising breathing to pulsing light, tossing and turning with the blanket to test the ergonomics and if the music rhythm is suitable for bedtime. Exploration takes approximately 15 minutes
5. After exploring, participants will use their mobile devices for a minimum of 20 minutes before taking in the experience as a whole
6. Participants have the option of using their mobile devices after going through the multi-sensory experience or they can choose to go screen-free and just lie in bed.
7. After 1 hour, interviewer will enter the testing room and do a post-interview with participant.

These are the questions asked during pre-interview.

a. Do you use your phone before sleeping?
b. How long do you usually use it before you get sleepy?
c. Do you have difficulty sleeping on a daily basis?
d. How long do you take to fall asleep if you don’t have your phone to use?
e. What is one thing you cannot sleep without?

Key findings:
a. All participants use their phone before sleeping, 7 of them use their phones in bed.
b. Average recreational screen usage before sleep: Approximately 45 minutes
c. All participants do not have difficulty sleeping on daily basis
d. Most participants shared that they could fall asleep quicker if they didn't have their phone to use. Average time taken to fall asleep if they do not use phone: Approximately 15-20 minutes


Post-interview questions after 1 hour of testing:
1. Did you fall asleep?
2. Which add-ons did you try? Which one do you find is effective?
3. What do you think of the blanket? What do you like about the blanket? Slits? Huggable panels? What do you not like about the blanket? Any areas or suggestions to improve? fabric, stuffing, general thoughts, etc
4. What do you think of the sleepy app music playing in the background? How do you feel about it? Any areas or suggestions to improve? General thoughts, etc
5. What do you think of the pulsing rhythm for the light? What do you think about this current colour? Did you find it difficult to synchronise your breathing with the rhythm? Should it be slower or faster? Any areas or suggestions to improve? General thoughts, etc
6. What do you think of this holistic experience? How do you feel about it?

From their responses, main points are summarised and these are the key findings:
The test was carried out during random timing / participants' non bed-time hours. It is important to take note that even if participants fell asleep or became sleepy during the random timing, it does not mean that the holistic experience is effective as they might have been tired in the day or might have gotten extra sleeping hours the night before.
  • 2 participants fell asleep. 70% of the participants who did not fall asleep, shared that they became sleepy or almost fell asleep during the experience testing.
  • It is noted that it was the first time for all of them to be 'sleeping' at this foreign place so they are more conscious.

Responses for blanket:
Responses are considered positive when more than half of participants are receptive to the component. 
  • All participants tried the weighted packets (optional add-on) and mentioned: Sense of assurance, security, comfortable, feels nice, fall asleep easily, weight distribution is uneven
    Conclusion: Positive but can be improved.
    Similar suggestions by participants: To even out the weight distribution, each weighted packet to be lighter.
    Final conclusion: Have more pockets for weighted packets but the weights are lighter than current ones
  • All participants tried the lavender sachet  (optional add-on) and mentioned: Nice, calming, can help me sleep easier, couldn't really smell it
    Conclusion: Positive but can be improved
  • All participants tried the leg warmer (optional add-on) and mentioned: Warm, comfortable, my legs can't reach it, I like the material
    Conclusion: Positive but can be improved.
    Similar suggestions by participants: Extend the length of leg warmer
  • Huggable panels: Comfortable, substitute for bolster, feels good, fluffy but my hands can be a bit cold
    Conclusion: Positive but can be improved.
    Suggestions by participants: Put something over my hands
  • Slits: Interesting, I like it but air can enter easily as snap buttons are not strong enough, nice to have as legs can get warm sometimes, I like to put my legs out, there can be quite a bit of exposure the snap buttons are opened, I like that I can stick my legs out when its too hot.
    Conclusion: Positive but can be improved.
    Suggestions by participants: More overlaps to cover the holes
  • Snap buttons to hold the slits: Opens too easily, irritating, detaches easily, takes time to get used to it, gaping holes, come off too easily, accidentally kicked open them, aircon can enter easily, can't wrap myself up as a burrito when I want to, difficult to button them back, I get distracted when they snap open.
    Conclusion: Negative - need to find another method to solve this problem
    Suggestions by participants: Place the snap buttons strategically or just secure some of the points permanently.
    I suggested magnets, some participants say it could be a good idea but one participant mentioned that magnet may affect blood circulation but it also depends on the strength of magnet.
    I suggested having another sheer fabric over the blanket, most participants feel that it may help and need to test it out.
    Final conclusion: Have more overlaps and use a sheer fabric to hold the blanket together.
  • Stuffing: It's just nice, it is an ok amount, it's too much for tropical country like Singapore but with aircon it is ok, too thick.
    Conclusion: To have lesser stuffing, if user prefers more stuffing, they can add accordingly but the base blanket should have lesser stuffing. 

Other new suggestions by participants:
  • Smaller pockets for the blanket so my hands can put in
  • Can there be a hood or something for my head? Something that can cover my head, like a hat or have some weights on my forehead
Other considerations by participants:
  • Can the blanket have a cover so the entire blanket doesn't need to be washed?
I had the thoughts of making the blanket transformational - to become a sleeping bag or a chair to lounge in, here are the participants responses:
  • I feel that you should just keep it as a blanket
  • One of the aspects of a sleeping bag is portability and I don't think this (blanket) translates into something that is portable, it will bring a lot of problems in terms of designing. I don't feel that sleeping bag is feasible,  I'm trying to pack features of a sleeping bag into a blanket and to make it portable as a sleeping bag, it's disconnected. 

Responses for pulsing light:
All participants tried the pulsing light and mentioned:

  • The pulse helped me to relax
  • It makes me sleepy
  • It helps me become sleepy
  • The light is ok (not too bright) when I close my eyes
  • It helps that I can pace myself and get into the rhythm of preparing to go to sleep
  • The light helped me to do breathing exercises so I can calm down and put my body in the natural sleeping state
  • Out of the three, the light is the least intrusive for me.
To improve:
  • Set-up is too near me
  • Pulse is too slow and rhythm is not right
  • Pulsing is not smooth at the beginning, it's a little difficult to follow.

Conclusion: Positive but can be improved.

Similar suggestions by participants: Pulsing rhythm can be quicker, not so bright, allow for customisation, colour can be red or orange, place the light on the ceiling, the length can be shortened by 1-2 seconds, place the light at a less direct position

Final conclusion: Proceed but improve the pulsing rhythm
Responses for music in the background:
Participants mentioned:

  • The music helps to calm me down
  • With a little discipline on my side, I feel that music will help me
  • The music must play at the right time
  • I feel more relaxed
  • It calms me down, the rain was nice
  • Rain sounds generally help with sleep, one good example is when it rains in the morning, I don't feel like waking up so the rain sounds is a good idea to explore
  • It is calming and relaxing
  • The music is good, soft music help me fall asleep
To improve:
  • The piano is irritating but raindrops is ok
  • I am distracted by the way the transitioning parts, it's not smooth
  • Music loop is too short, I can easily identify when it restarts
Conclusion: Positive but can be improved.

Similar suggestions by participants: Focus on the rain sounds, less intrusive, softer, allow for taper off after some time.

Final conclusion: Proceed
I will be taking in their feedback and comments to design the refined prototypes.

Full transcription of video interviews can be found here.
Participants have kindly allowed me to publish the interviews, feedback will solely be used for MA research findings and analysis only.


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