A brief introduction

On November 1st, our group (David, Caroline and Chloé) met up with Jeffrey, an older man participating in the Osher program next to our physical computing lab, with the intention of building him a useful device. In order to do so, it was necessary for our group to gain a better understanding of who he was as a person: what he enjoyed doing, what tasks he had issues completing, what the course of his day looked like. We bought him a coffee and sat down to talk about his life.

our meeting agenda
  • Introduction to our past projects
  • Talk about assistive device research, how we started by doing it for ourselves
  • Show each individual project and talk about our technical abilities
  • Ask Jeffrey to tell us about himself, including his habits and self-identified personality traits.
  • Ask Jeffrey to share an experience he has really enjoyed recently.
  • Ask Jeffrey to tell us about his hobbies/what he enjoys doing in his free time.
  • Ask Jeffrey when was the last time he felt frustrated with something in his home and at work.
Meeting summary and major takeaways

As we started the conversation with questions mainly in two directions: Jeffrey’s interest and problems he faces, the discussion initially carried out with emphasis on Jeffrey’s personal interest, daily activities and the arrangement of his house. However, we later discovered that when talking about his own life, he talked a lot about his granddaughter Stella, for example, his granddaughter’s favorite shows, his granddaughters’ hobbies, his granddaughters’ achievements in primary school and so on. Thus, with more questions focusing on interactions between his granddaughter and him, we discovered that he and his wife moved to Pittsburgh actually to help their son taking care of their granddaughter.

However, Jeffrey also acknowledged that he rarely participates in Stella’s favorite activity in spare time: cooking, since this always create a huge mess in the kitchen. Therefore, we thought it would be meaningful to create an implement that can let Jeffrey and Stella share some meaningful time together and enhance their understanding for each other. This eventually became the main focus of the talk, yet before coming down to this thought, we have drifted through a lot of other options, for example, making a comparatively intelligent suitcase for Jeffrey, since he suggested that he needs a “self-driving” suitcase to carry his lecture materials around, which is obviously too hard to be finished in such a short duration of time.

Also, he proposed that if we are trying to make anything related to his hobby of playing tennis, it could be something that improves his forehand. These options generally turned out to be too hard for us as the course project and there was not much we can improve for these options.

Therefore, even though we discussed broadly with Jeffrey from different aspects of his life, eventually we narrow down to his interaction with his granddaughter.

Meeting with Jeffrey in the cafe.

our thoughts after holding the meeting and discussing as a team

Jeffrey is very approachable, so the whole meeting followed our agenda and went very smoothly. Although he is a retired man, he has a really busy schedule and teaches several courses at the same time. We tried to start brainstorm from the problems he met during the daily life but found that he seemed to keep everything in order while what he suggested us to build is too hard, making us a little overwhelmed at one point. Finally,  we decided to start our design with his interaction with his granddaughter.

Ideation sketching during group meeting

The first interview was done in a university cafe because time was tight. The whole team thought the discussion was going well, but we would like to visit him at his house next time so that we could observe the details of his life more carefully, and also communicate with his wife and granddaughter, which would be very helpful for us to know Jeffrey better.


Chloé Desaulles

Jiatian Sun

Jianxiao Ge