I started my first phase of design by engaging in user research on mobility and exercise with 15 users: athletes and fitness enthusiasts age 25 to 55. Using a web-surveying tool, I asked them 40 questions about what mobility meant to them, how they use their existing mobile phone, and what devices they use in the context of a physical activity. I followed up my initial series of questions with a two-hour discussion among five of the participants. Here we went into detail about fitness goals and routines, and how communication tools could enhance the active experience.
After my initial research, I found three consistent themes amongst my users:
• They usually carry their phones in a pocket or a purse, and need to dig out the phone to see who is calling when it rings, at which point they usually answer it;
• Almost all of my users take their phones everywhere they go, except when they exercise;
• They most often use their phones for coordination on the move.
They all saw great potential in having a device that combined communication and data tracking, as long as it was somehow wearable, and did not have to be carried in their hand.
This research strengthened my hypothesis that a mobile device designed specifically for fitness could answer the needs of my user group, and possibly extend to active people in general. The research showed that the device would need to the following:
• Give users awareness and control over incoming calls;
• Provide an awareness that does not require users to stop what they are doing;
• Enable multi-tasking;
• Prevent unnecessary interruptions;
I went back to my users throughout the design process for information and inspiration. Along with additional rounds of questionnaires, I also used observational research, role play, story telling, improvisation and experience prototyping to better understand what my users needed.