On October 22nd, from 9:00a-10:00a, we met Jan in her home to discuss day to day problems that we could help alleviate through the construction of a physical computing device. We learned that Jan often wants to remain physically active, but forgets to take the time to exercise. Because of that, our proposed assistive device by the end of the meeting was a workout tracking and reminding clock.


We planned to start off by introducing ourselves and talking a bit about who we are, where we’re from, ect. in order to break the ice. Then we wanted to show Jan the assistive devices we made for ourselves for Project 1, so she would have examples of the kinds of problems we could try to solve with our project, and have an idea of what to expect from the completed project. We wanted to ask questions about her daily life, such as her hobbies and chores, and from there try to find anything in these daily activities that was difficult or inconvenient. Once we discovered an activity that was difficult, we planned to brainstorm possible solutions and discuss them with Jan. After that, we wanted to ask Jan if she had any questions for us about the project such as the timeline, or what would happen at the next meeting in class.

Summary and Takeaways

The meeting with Jan allowed us to gain a better understanding of her life and how we could potentially help improve it.  For the majority of her career, Jan worked a desk job in substance abuse counseling.  Now retired, she mentioned that she enjoys the ability to live a less sedentary lifestyle after years of sitting.   We spent a large part of the meeting discussing the ways in which she remains active.   She mentioned multiple walking routes, weights in the living room, going to the gym, and being busy with everyday errands.  However, she also said that she does not workout as much as she would like to, and her phone is ineffective at reminding her since she can simply swipe away the reminder.   We found this problem to have great potential for an assistive device to help, and ultimately this was largest opportunity we found for a project.


Some of the notes we took while talking with Jan. We noted that exercise was important to her.

We proposed a device which Jan could use to track how often she exercised, and which would also remind her to exercise if she hadn’t been as active as she wanted. We suggested something that would fit on her kitchen counter, near her back door, after she mentioned how she normally leaves to exercise through that door. We figured placing the device there would make it easy for Jan to log when she exercises by pushing a button on the device as she leaves the house.

Jan’s kitchen counter by her back door, where she suggested placing the device.

Besides her active lifestyle we learned a lot about Jan’s mindset and what she enjoys doing.  When it comes to technology, Jan is very knowledgable.  She uses one of the recent iPhones, and gave us advice we didn’t know about  the Pittsburgh Transit app.  She adores visiting her grandson and taking care of her cat Alex who loves to socialize and play with the furniture.  We looked for opportunities to solve problems with her cat getting on the furniture and her grandson’s allergies to the cat, but the solutions were largely outside of our abilities.


Overall, we all agreed that the meeting went very well. The meeting did follow our agenda for the most part, but we didn’t try to stick to it too strictly so we could allow the conversation to happen naturally. When we left  the meeting we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to make for our project, and we believe Jan also knew what to expect as we move forward in developing the device. 

If we were to conduct another interview in the future, we would probably try to stress diversity in our initial ideation phase for project ideas. One of the concerning parts of this interview was how quickly we landed on a project idea during our discussion. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we are more likely to have missed a better idea because of this early limitation in scope.

After the meeting, we had a rather specific idea of what this assistive device should be. As such, there aren’t many other questions that we had thought of to ask. We expect though, that as our project develops, there may be additional information that would be helpful.