Material Matters put together a team and partnered with RC Pet Products to expand on their brand redevelopment strategy. To help RC become more innovative in the ways they engage with their customers, it was determined that the customer should be involved in the entire process of a product's lifecycle. We used user innovation, co-design and customer configuration as key strategies to develop innovative opportunities for the company. Our research team developed a lifestyle/community app, detailed below, as a means of addressing the insight of active customer involvement.
I was involved in determining innovative user-production and user-pathways aimed at local, on-demand production through research of new digital processes such as 3D scanning, augmented reality and social media as a means to better connect the community of pet owners. Our outcome was informed by co-creative workshops with pet owners who brought fourth an interesting perspective on the pet community. I established new digital based strategies for RC Pets products through system mapping and prototyping UX wireframes. I assisted in sketching UI of the final app design.
I directed and created the app promotional video for presentation to the client. Take a look!
This app offers a pet focused experience along with opportunities for shopping and connecting with other pet owners. It uses social sharing to locate new dog parks and keep the conditions updated through it’s network of users. Pet owners can shop for pet products as well as create custom garments for their furry friends. In the future, improved Augmented Reality technology will make it possible to scan your dog and take accurate measurements that can be stored in your dog’s personal profile. This database of measurements that are documented through the app can then be used to create accurate dog profiles with sizing suggestions specific to certain breeds.
The app breaks down into four components with an activity and store locator, photo sharing, shopping and custom jacket configurator. The home page of the app opens to a map where users can locate stores nearby that carry RC products or swipe to see parks and hikes that are dog friendly.
Visible from the parks map are pinpoints around the users general location that have been marked by previous app users while also pulling information from google. Once a pinpoint has been tapped a pop up will appear that briefly explains the parks attributes in accordance to dogs. In the popup the viewer can also see what RC pet connections are currently at the park as well as the condition of the park. For example, someone might notice construction near the leash free area and write a quick note to future park-goers that the area is muddy or difficult to get to. These notes are easy to submit and easy to read with simple coloured dots explaining the status.
Through the parks app an opportunity is presented to click on the profiles active at any park site. This portal takes the user to the users profile which is the highlight of the social sharing aspect. The app allows users to share photos of their pets in different places around Vancouver.
Additionally, it detects pet products and provides information on them, pointing users towards purchases via the app. Users can shop directly from one tap along the bar at the bottom of the screen. This takes them to the RC online inventory where they can browse products through simple categories.
Separate from a user’s social sharing profile is each of their pet profiles which are only visible to the individual logged onto the app. From here users can learn to physically measure their dog as they are walked through steps to record their accurate measurements which are stored in the profile of each pet. These measurement can then be used to purchase well fitted garments and even make their own custom wearables. The app includes a custom jacket configuration which enables users to get creative and design a coat that does exactly what each individual pet needs it to do.
These products can then be viewed on the user's actual dog via the use of augmented reality technology. The app can recognize features such as a collar on the dog and wrap the jacket around the pet to see how it looks or how it fits. This can happen in live view or in saved view. Saved view is used when the user’s dog may not be present but a saved photo will do the trick!
WORKSHOP DATA VISUALIZATION
Pulling on participatory, co-creative research methods that use creative activities to elicit new insight about context from individuals. We developed a series of activities, one of which participants were asked to fill in a worksheet to envisage and create a custom dog jacket for their dog. The worksheet provided a list of options for individuals to choose from: coverage options, accessories, colors, styles, materials, textures. Space was also provided for the participants to add additional notes and ideas.
These images showcase a snapshot of our wireframe process.
Initially we were interested in the ability of scanning technologies and how they could be used to enhance the process of developing a catalogue of dog measurements. Our research was immediately brought to a halt when we discovered the challenges that both scanning technologies and dogs presented. Scanning technologies that exist today and are accessible by iphone, the desired method for consumers, will not create an accurate mesh of physical objects without the use of external, expensive hardware. Not only this, but the purchase and dissemination of this hardware along with education to retailers still presented a challenge: everything about dogs. Scanners like the Structure Sensor for iPad which allows users to capture geometry and “create high-fidelity 3D models with high-resolution textures” will create a mesh of a dogs fur, not of their actual body. With this tool, dog jackets that use measurements developed from a scanning tool will be too large for dogs and possibly less accurate than just measuring with a string and ruler. Even further, these sensors require the subject to stay completely still while the computer rotates their entire body including underneath their belly and between their legs. This process could take up to ten minutes and each time the subject moves the process would need to start from the beginning.
We took a step back from scanning technologies and focused our attention on new age accessible programs that could be used easily by consumers. We researched infrared detection hardware which we thought would be able to measure a dog’s size in relation to the heat of their body, not the placement of their fur. However, these processes also required the purchase of external hardware to complement the cell phone or tablet and would need to be used in conjunction with a scanning technology.
The answer seemed to lay in the existing methods accessible by phone; Augmented Reality (AR). This option doesn’t completely respond to all of the hurdles that have erected but it does jump over some. For starters, the technology is accessible to developers and familiar to consumers. To us, it seemed that the use of this to measure objects is right around the corner.
Even though AR doesn’t currently react to fur the way we had intended and could pose problems in future development phases we decided to use it as a tool of discovery for the purposes of incorporating technology into our project as a way to excite future users and bridge the gap between tech and pets. As the gateway technology we could use it to engage users in many ways.