Memories is a feature within Skype that helps collect moments during video calls with close friends and family. These moments then serve as inspiration to engage in future conversations.
Collaboration with Skype and Interactive Institute
This was a group project of 3
Users are able to record short videos while having a video-call. The recording-process can happen automatically or manually — depending on the user’s settings. An automated collecting process can be compared to how existing live-cam solutions are working, whereas manual collecting is as easy as taking a screenshot. Those short videos are then used in a passive (profile animations) or active (memory library) way, to engage into future conversations.
Our research where done with tools based on ethnographic research together with Brendon Clark (Interactive institute). We chose a seed-swap event as our research field to find rich input and synthesise human needs and values in our contact with others. At the event we did interviews with participants. We found that the plants and seeds worked almost like a currency for social exchange for many of the participants.
We told their stories in an analog interactive presentation where people could pin their level of interest with balloons on the stories they liked the most.
The story about keeping memories related to plants was something that caught peoples attention: "my mum past away many years ago but I still have this plant from her".
Every week we delivered a short walk through of the week.
Ideation and Rapid prototyping
We started our Ideation phase with an “empty our heads” workshop, where we pined up all our ideas we had so far on the wall. We clustered these ideas in different categories. In the next session we took different themes such as detective and spy based on the stories from our interviewee and applied these themes on the clusters.
Prototyping ideas with cheap materials
We first sketched out our ideas in order to bring them to life in user scenarios and how to prototype them. We then prototyped by using cheap material such as paper, cardboard, photos and drawings. For the screen merge ideas, we tweaked existing technologies, using 2 tablets and their cameras.
These prototypes were quick to build and involved no coding since we were in the phase of trying out ideas. we wanted to convey the experience in a cheap, quick and understandable way.
Based on user tests and discussions within the group and tutors, we narrowed down to 5 ideas at the end of week 5. They were then presented in an elevator pitch.
Testing ideas with people
We spent an afternoon involving people in order to gather their feedbacks and feeling on our ideas. Each testing was followed up by a quick interview of the experience.
We used a spider diagram with 5 branches in order to evaluate and compare each concepts with a quantitative notation. From this we narrowed down to 3 ideas.
We created video sketches in order to convey the use scenario, the physical properties and the user experience of our 3 ideas. We agreed on these videos to be fast prototyped, to use cheap material and to not be too shiny in order to leave room for interpretation during the presentation.
Reframing the topic toward Skype
After presenting our video sketches for Skype we decided to focus upon memories and especially their asynchronous aspect, which means before a memory is going to occur and after a memory has occurred. Focusing on the aspect of memories meant to take a step back — we looked back again at the cluster of ”looking into the past to get inspired for the future”. From there on we reframed and narrowed down the topic on which we wanted to focus for the rest of the project. One of Buzz’s comments was that if a Skype-call ends, the only memory left for him will be that it ended. Generally we also framed the topic by looking at the connection between the synchronous (video-calling) and asynchronous parts (instant messaging) that Skype consists of as a service.
During a video-call memories in shape of different types of media (images, audio, videos) could be collected and stored. This collection and curation of content could happen automatically using algorithms comparable to existing live-cam solutions. Also it could happen manually, e.g. taking screenshots and -videos during a call. An issue that is created by generating these memories lies in privacy. Are people comfortable with others (in our case friends / family) generating data from shared experiences during a video-call? Also being concerned with potential legal issues we discussed about this with our tutors and decided to keep on following the concept.
Wireframing and digital prototype
We created hand-drawn wireframes and user-flows very quickly. These early prototypes were used in iterations of user-evaluation and following readjustments of the prototypes. We were able to proceed about three iterations of evaluating and improving within one week which helped us to narrow down different variations to one concept:
Depending on the user’s settings memories are collected automatically or manually. Per default setting the collection will take place in an automated way. Using visual feedback keeps the user informed about this gathering of content at all times and if needed the function can easily be turned off. In general the memories function is only active if all parties involved in a Skype-call or conversation have activated this feature. This then allow people to commit together in collecting and sharing memories. After a call has ended the gathered memories will be presented on an in-between screen, which disappears automatically after a short time if the user does not interfere. The recently collected memory will replace the people’s profile images and moreover be collected in an overview-screen, comparable to a gallery function. The user can freely browse, share and delete those memories.
Randomly selected memories are displayed on the chat-screen, as a reminder, but also as inspiration for future conversations.
See more of our rich process in our blog where we kept track of our process: http://uidpuff.tumblr.com