A1: Paper Prototype

Wearable UIs

The subject of this assignment is wearable technology, currently a very hot topic in the industry, with everyone speculating on who is going to bring out the first blockbuster product and what will be the killer app.

This assignment is intended to be a combination of a design challenge and a prototyping exercise. As such, it’s pretty wide open and won’t have a lot of details specified. It’s up to you to figure things out. The emphasis is on the application of prototyping to a user interface using paper, as we did in the class exercise.

Don’t make it more than that; just use paper prototyping techniques. And don’t go crazy in designing user interfaces. You can dream up a killer app, but set yourself a limited aspect of it that you want to evaluate with a paper prototype, and make sure the question you are asking about your design can be effectively evaluated by a paper prototype.

Here’s the scenario. You are working at a design strategy consultancy (think IDEO or frog) and you have been asked by management to come up with some new concepts for wearable tech products. Your team is given the challenge of a system that combines a smart watch and a smart phone, and asked to develop a product concept that involves synchronization of data between the two smart devices.


Very quickly, rough out a design concept for such a paired app. It could be about biometric data (the watch has sensors in it and streams the data to the phone for visualization), personal information (the watch has a notification system for calls or texts that come in on the phone), or anything else. Develop some UI sketches for both parts of the app — the watch and the phone.

Then, in order to get some initial feedback on the concept and functionality, develop a scheme for a paper prototype test of the important parts of each app’s UI. (Don’t worry about the nuts and bolts like logins or registration; concentrate on the cool stuff.) You are trying to learn whether your design concept is viable and identify problems in your approach and basic operations of the app. This is not a full usability evaluation.

Next, create the paper prototype and prepare for a test. Remember that you don’t need to work at 1:1 scale in the prototype. You’ll want to make them larger, especially the watch, so that your testing can be manageable. You can still get a feel for effectiveness at a larger scale.

Now, run at least one user test on each component’s functionality. Take notes, photos, and videos.

You may collaborate on the design and testing with others, but if you do, you must still each develop, test, and report on your own prototypes.

Submit the following:

  • Prototype Materials: Bring your actual paper prototype materials to class for demonstration.
  • Project Report: Write a short report documenting your design and testing. This should be neat and clear, not overly designed, but suitable for a process portfolio artifact. (You should be able to reuse a lot of this information in your process blog.) The report should cover the following elements:
    1. Design: description of the paired app purpose and basic functionality.
    2. Prototype: description of the paper prototypes you created to test these apps.
    3. Analysis: summary of the results of your testing — what about the prototype worked well, what needed improvement, and what you concluded about the effectiveness of your design from the testing.

    Include sketches, scans, photos, and other evidence of the design, the paper prototype, and your testing of it. Put it all in a PDF file, please.

  • Video Demo: A 60 second (maximum) video that shows both of your prototypes (watch and phone) being tested. Obviously, this won’t be a complete record of the testing you did, but just two quick snapshots of it in action. It doesn’t have to be a professional video production, just a low-fi record (phone video is fine). You can upload a video or give a URL to an online version.