A brief introduction: 

This project is about designing an assistive device for an older person. As part of the product design process, we met with our client, Enid, to learn more about her life, daily needs, habits, and routines. The interview was held at Enid’s home, where she and her husband Errol kindly offered us a tour of their house and of their daily life. Our purpose was to extract information about Enid’s life to come up with a design scenario that would render her daily activities easier and more pleasant.

General Agenda

  • Introductions
  • Overview of our task as a team
    • Goals: Demo our own project 2
    • Timeline: Prototype crit and final deadlines
    • Questions?
  • Interview
    • Probably start with daily routine, (or interesting points she brings up when we introduce ourselves)
    • Poll questions from below based on how the conversation is going, probably don’t just go in order
  • Conclusions

How we improvised based on our initial agenda:


Before the meeting, a necessary thing was to compose a questionnaire. Then, we could start a conversation with Enid guided by the questionnaire itself. Our questions covered a wide range of aspects, concerning either matters of practicality, such as 1) “Are you experiencing any health condition or  sensori-motor disability?”, 2) “Is there anything that you would like to change or do differently in your daily routine?”, or touching the field of imagination, such as 1) “Do you have a favourite superhero?”, 2) “If you could possess a non-human property, what would that be?”.

Body and mind language:

While talking with Enid, we tried to extract meaning from her words, behavior and gestures, rendering visible to each other any potential preference, affinity, dislike she had developed about her daily activities. For instance, observing the vocabulary she used to express herself, we pointed out her love for reading. We followed this strategy in order to focus on particular activities each time and “dig” deeper. 

House tour:

We also asked for a short house tour. During that we confirmed Enid’s affinity for books (big libraries around the place) and plants, and also observed details not mentioned before (traveling – various destination books).

Many of her plants are situated like so in the living room, but there are more around the house

A look at a small portion of the total books in Enid’s house

Activity performance:

Finally, in the questionnaire’s section “Daily routine”, we were asking our older friend to perform her daily activities. Even though we didn’t have the opportunity to do that in our first meeting, we focused on one particular activity and asked her to perform a video for us a few days later. 

Meeting Summary and Major Takeaways: 

While we had some amazing discussions and learned a lot about Enid’s and her husband’s life, we were not able to identify many ideas that we could do for this project. We quickly came to the conclusion that Enid doesn’t have issues that she would like to see solved by us, so the challenge became coming up with something that could enhance her life and still be practical. In the meeting itself,  we came up with one potential project idea. Enid has a lot of plants around the house, a couple are in a central location and others are scattered around the house. She said that it could be helpful to have a reminder system or something that could automatically water all the plants. We pondered this idea with Enid for a while, and tried coming up with ways that we could implement this wirelessly, since there were many plants around the house. We weren’t entirely sold on creating this for Enid, so we decided that we would send her the full list of questions that we didn’t get to in order to see if that may glean any other potential projects.

Concluding Thoughts After Meeting

Though we went off script early on during the interview, we did become acquainted with Enid and Errol through a more casual exchange. We learned a lot about their day-to-day life, but we could have driven the conversation more towards needs and issues where we could step in. Our team did not have the time to debrief immediately after the visit, but we sent our original list of questions via email for her consideration. We were pleasantly surprised to find Enid reply with an answer to all of the questions. We met after receiving these responses, and brainstormed other ideas for the assistive device.

From the visit and her email response, we gathered that Enid and Errol enjoy reading books and going to the movies. We considered building a movie/book recommendation system that is integrated into their home/furniture, but we decided to explore options that were able to leverage the “physical” aspect of physical computing.

Enid also mentioned that one of the tasks she finds monotonous is cleaning up after a meal daily. She also mentioned enjoying doing puzzles at breakfast, which led us to ask ourselves, “can we turn this activity into a sort of game?” We began exploring ways to make this obligatory task more entertaining, perhaps by integrating a game or puzzle into the activity.