Ember - Interactive workspaces

A Beacon technology PoC for people with learning disabilities. I was the UX lead on this collaboration with National Star College funded by Innovate UK
It's the end of the first month in John's first job. He's been anxious from the day he started and feels a bit like an outsider, not really part of the team. It's hard to remember things, so learning new tasks is daunting and he needs constant support.
How might we use Beacon technology to support trainees like John to be more independent at work?

A day in the life

Bring research to life through stories and film
Stories through film
Filmed observations and interviews with trainees from National Star College in live work environments at EDF, Foxes Hotel and National Star College Bistro.

Films were made by Adnan Mangral.
Restaurants are one of the key work areas and trainees undertake a variety of tasks in different locations.

Job coaches set up the tasks but on-site support is provided by Job buddies (usually a chef).

Comic of a trainee's typical experience

Context for John's Persona. Where is he? Who is he interacting with, how and why? How is John feeling about what's happening?

Journey map touch-points

What are the potential touch-points for support. What does John really need help with?What content needs to be created and where should John access it?
Memory and related stress is a common issue.

Simple clear instruction and visuals will be crucial to reduce cognitive load.
How might we create a virtual job coach application that supports trainees across a variety of tasks and locations?

Collaborate and multiply

Idea generation through rapid sprints and co-creation workshops with Job Coaches to design the workflow and output for task creation.
Co-creation workshop

Co-creation workshop with job coaches to simulate the design of a personalised workflows and tasks.
Job coaches work closely with trainees and adapt jobs to a particular person's skills, aptitudes and restrictions. They refer to this as 'job carving'.

Prototyping and testing in the Kitchen

Rapid prototyping in live work environments helped us understand the limitations of the technology and how best to support individual trainees.
Beacon capabilities and limitations
Beacons were not that accurate. The proximity can be affected by a variety of factors including materials, proximity, walls and other beacons.

Position of the Beacons
Observations were made with trainees at work. Tasks coincide with service in the restaurant so there is a predictable order and flow. Beacons should be clearly visible and identifiable to trainees but not in the way for other Kitchen staff.

Stripped back UI and interactions
The interface was stripped back to the absolute minimum content and designed to be simple and clear with no distractions. Any instructions needed to be in basic concise language with relevant images, video or audio.

Any gestures needed to be easy to remember and tie in with trainees experience of using smart phones.

Tap in to get a task. Swipe to follow the steps.

Proof of concept

Wireframe prototype iOS application utilising Beacon technology to locate tasks and access personalised support.

Field trials took place in EDF and the Star Bistro.

Starting the day
Using Beacon proximity to help trainees know where they are working and find the first task.

Focused personalised content loads with no menu or other distractions in the interface.

  1. Personalised welcome
  2. Which work area to go to
  3. How to check in at the beacon

Locating the first task
Using Beacons to hold location and task information

  1. Which task location to go to first
  2. How to check in at the coffee machine beacon
Support completing the task
Task walkthrough, broken down into simple steps with supporting icons and photos.

  1. Start screen
  2. Sample step instruction with hint of next screen. Swipe left to see the next step. Swipe right to go back to previous step.
  3. Task complete. Tapping the next button directs the trainee to the next Beacon location.

Innovate UK believe this product has the potential to have a big impact on the amount of support required by the employer. Therefore increasing the number of people with learning difficulties into the workplace.
Made on