On Thursday night (3/30), our group, Team Renfrew (consisting of Adriel, Arushi, and Monica), made a trip to an apartment in Downtown Pittsburgh to meet a wonderful couple, Rosemarie and Joe. The goal of our meeting was to get to know Rosemarie on a more personal level so that we may create a device that would address a problem in her life, but would also be aesthetically pleasing to her from a design standpoint.

The aftermath of the amazing spread Rosemarie prepared for our meeting.

Meeting agenda

What to bring: Phone camera, Paper, Pen, Macbook

Outline of meeting:

  • Introduce ourselves, describe what we do as Intro to Physical Computing students
  • Briefly describe what the point of the project is
  • Engage in discussion about technology
  • Ask questions to understand her interests, and any problems she has in life
  • Explain project timeline

Discussion Topics:

  • Our favorite pieces of technology right now
  • What technology means in our lives today?


  1. What are your interests/hobbies/things you do for fun?
  2. What does your typical day looks like?
  3. What are your experiences with technology?
  4. Are there any activities in your daily life that are frustrating?
  5. Are there any recent activities that you change a way of doing things or interact with things?
  6. What are the most important things in your life?
  7. What are some things you enjoyed doing that have become harder with age?
  8. Do you find transportation as a problem?
  9. Do you think your social life has changed as you’ve grown older?
  10. What do you enjoy/dislike about living in the city?

Meeting summary and major takeaways

Things she loves

  • Yoga
  • Reading – hosts book club in their apartment community room  (boods recomended from carnegie hall lecture series and new york best seller). Rosemarie reads about 2 books a week.
  • Cook – loves finding new recipes, and tries to create a vegan adaptation of what she finds
  • Travel – collects artifacts from all over the world
  • Loves Downtown – goes to plays and concerts
  • Grocery shopping
  • Walking
  • Learning – In OSHER program
  • Her adorable dog, Renfrew
  • Art – many paintings, sculptures in their home, as well as talking about art displays in public spaces in the city

Technology she has – how it satisfies/frustrates her

  • TV & remote controls – sometimes too difficult to understand, prevents her from doing yoga through DVD
  • Iphone – allows her to make calls, and Google things (her favorite personal technology)
  • Mini Ipad – does not use it as often because of login wifi security problems
  • Computer
  • Iwatch – “does not use it to full capacity”, she knows it has many capabilities, she just isn’t sure how to access them
  • Alexa – Joe treats Alexa in a direct way, Alexa does not always respond with what they ask for
  • Fitbit – she uses it infrequently, Iwatch is taking over her Fitbit functions
  • Wiifit – she enjoys the ability to do many different activities (bowling, running, yoga) from the comfort of her own home, she loves to win in Wii game

Improvements she would like to see in her life

  • If things were more user friendly, she would use them
  • Easier way to carry her groceries, she currently uses a backpack but would like to fit more things in it
  • Not always comfortable alone on buses, relies on buses to get to Pitt or CMU
  • Technology instructions – she would like for a person to walk her through the instructions, so they can address any problems she may encounter, thus allowing her to feel more comfortable with the technology
  • Something to help her stay awake
  • She always forget whats in her cupboards at home, too high for her and Joe to easily reach and check 

Thoughts on technology in general

  • She loves technology, but feels she is illiterate about it
    • Will have Joe work it for her, if she can’t understand
  • She likes how technology is new and interesting
    • ex) bridge lighting, interactive lightings based on data and human reaction

Thoughts after holding the meeting and discussing as a team

During the meeting, we asked many of the questions we planned to, and we got to know both Rosemarie and Joseph pretty well as people. On a person-to-person level, I think the meeting went great.  I think we did less brainstorming for new ideas than we would’ve originally hoped, but we learned a lot about things Rosemarie and Joseph enjoy in life and what they are passionate about as individuals. None of us expected such hospitality and investment/willingness to help in the project as Rosemarie showed us. Another key thing about Rosemarie was how connected her and Joesph were – I wasn’t sure if we should try to talk to her individually, but from the conversation it seems that they do almost all their activities together. Even though the meeting went pretty long (almost an hour and a half), at the end as we left, we were still asking questions, and talking as a group, so I definitely think we could have been able to talk more. Some questions I think we could’ve talked more on is what they think about communicating with friends and family (originally Rosemarie expressed it being hard to reach some other older friends, but talked about how much she loved Facebook). Also, as we were describing past projects, one of the couple labelled it as “interactive art” and I think that term fits perfectly – I wish we could have talked about art in this way more and about how “practical” or “interactive” art is a part of their life – it may have sparked some ideas. They talked about their love to travel and the places they had been, but when we asked about if they experience any difficulty packing, or in the airport, it seemed like they were very self-dependent (in most activities they did every day, this was the case), and there was no outstanding way to incorporate a technology into these. I think maybe if we had slowed down the conversation a little, we could get to the underlying ways in which technology could have helped them in small tasks doing Rosemarie loves such as traveling, hosting book club meetings, going on daily walks, etc. Overall, however, we though the meeting went very, very well and we look forward to sharing this relationship with Rosemarie and Joseph. We were so impressed by the hospitality the couple showed us and the experiences they were willing to share with us, and it definitely made all of our days!