This one was a tough one.
HID, or Human Interface Device, is any interface that allows us to control a computer of any kind.
The USB HID class protocol is a standard that defines how computer peripherals, such as a mouse or keyboard, should communicate with a computer.
For this assignment, I thought really hard about ways of improving or augmenting the way we use computers. After a long process of ideation and exploration (described below), I landed on an idea that I am sure will improve the way I multitask during my everyday work.
I'll describe my creative process as I go.
Let's start with research.
User research is intended to reveal how people perform different everyday activities and the pain points that they might encounter along the way.
With this in mind, I drafted a short script with 5 questions about how people use their computers and conducted a few interviews.
Since time is limited, I can't conduct a substantial amount of interviews, so naturally the results were somewhat scattered. In conclusion, users don't identify any frequent issues or stressful moments when interacting with their computers. We can attribute this on the 40+ years of computer evolution or on the quality of my interviews.
Regardless, I am sure that some part of the the way we use our computers can be improved.
I initially wanted to steer this exercise towards wearable sensors. My thesis is that wearable technology hasn't really taken off the way companies expected it because of the introduction of yet another screen into our lives, only this time it is attached to our bodies. Also, the idea of charging a second device every night is also a big impediment for it to take off.
For the reasons listed above, I wanted to develop some sort of wearable sensor. No screen, just something that would enable for en explicit action to be taken at any given moment.
An example of this is a remote controller for keynote presentations. It serves single purpose (move between presentation slides) yet it is smart enough to do it right every time.
Having all of that in mind, developing a wearable sensor would only make sense when you are operating a computer remotely. Many applications and users that stayed close to this requirement come to mind, such as:
People with disabilities
The sensor will input something somewhere. That somewhere, wether is an audio editing app or a presentation, gives some visual feedback. I couldn't think of a way of detach a screen from this interaction. It is possible to send HID messages to an Android phone and having that be the portable HUD, but how relevant would a tangible interface be if you could instead simply touch the screen?
I zoomed out after struggling with these questions and decided to observe the way I use my computer. I noticed that I multitask a lot, jumping between apps specially with the cmd + tab shortcut. That key combo is great when switching between your two last applications, but adding a third one and having to press the tab key twice start to get confusing. Additionally, the order of the apps changes on the order in which you use them.
Some activities require more to switch between more than 2 apps repeatedly. For me, programming is a good example of this. At least 3 base apps are being used in this example: VS Code, Chrome and Spotify. But when programming more complex stuff involves testing an API with a tool like Postman, or the thing I'm making has a UI design on a PDF file that I have to continuously consult, my workflow grows to more than 5 apps.
Using the cmd+tab shortcut is simply not enough.
Taking all that was mentioned above, I'll make a surface pad that adheres to a laptop somehow and provides the user with 6 different hot spots that when tapped, switch to any desired app.
It doesn't have a name yet, and I'm not sure if it will actually improve productivity, but I have to test it.
I researched to see if this was even possible and found that Automator (a MacOS app that not many people know about) comes in to save the day.
I also looked for a small enough micro-controller that could handle my requirements.
The proof-of-concept test was to launch Spotify by performing the shortcut cmd+alt+1. This works, so I know that the road ahead is clear.
The rest of the process will continue here....