Drawing inspiration from user research and a comparative analysis of existing systems (e.g., Rocksmith 2014, Songsterr, and Riffstation), we identified a user need for a tool specifically designed to improve a guitar player's rhythm. Whereas most systems attempt to teach techniques related to the fretting hand, little exists to help someone understand strumming patterns, hand positioning and related techniques while providing them with personalized feedback to both improve immediate play and shape their path for continued improvement.
We designed an app which would be paired with a wearable that tracks hand positions and movements to capture user behavior and provide personalized feedback. Our solution was based upon strong user research where we combined traditional user interviews with participatory design exercises. Through our design, we focused on aspects of motivation, behavior change and gamification.
March 2017 - April 2017
Working closely in a group, I was involved in both user research & design, including interviews, conducting participatory design exercises, creating wireframes and hi-fi mockups. I also created a prototype of a wearable device.
We wanted to provide users who are "perpetual beginners" in playing a musical instruments a system to improve and facilitate a behavior change by sustaining motivation and engagement.
Due to the scope and time constraints of the project, we followed a more linear process than we would have desired.
However, there was some iteration between the research and design phases where we performed Speed dating interviews to validate our design ideas.
Through a mix of one-on-one qualitative interviews, comparative research and exploring online communities (e.g., r/guitarlessons), we identified four primary characteristics of our users that drove our design process:
Many guitar players consider themselves to be "lifelong beginners".
Users often do not understand what they need to improve upon to become better.
Users want personalized feedback specific to how they are playing.
Users want a path to follow; that is, what do they need to work on next.
Based on our user research, we constructed a persona. This helped us in creating a consistent understanding of the user for all group members, assisted in brainstorming and feature selection, and finally, develop informed wireframes that tie back to motivations and goals of our user
We performed a participatory design exercise with the other students in the course. Over a 20 minute period, we presented the students with a brief introduction to our goals, and presented our personas.
We asked the students, "What do you think should the primary design goal for this persona be?"
We tried to brainstorm solutions which will target one aspect of guitar players in order to help them improve. Our key considerations in mind while coming up with design ideas were: data collection & measurement strategy, motivation and behavior change, and feedback.
Throughout the process, we sketched out ideas and presented these to the user to gauge if these ideas truly met the most important needs of our users. By adopting this iterative approach, we altered our ideas considerably.
We had intended on allowing a user to create their own goals within the app, but this too was deemed less useful and as such, was dropped.
Users indicated our original idea for social features were far less important than getting personalized feedback. As such, we tabled this social idea in favor of making the app centered around the individual guitarist.
Users responded very favorably to the idea of "building a bar" and "earning fans" within the app. Given this, we included a feature where the more regularly and better a user performs the more virtual fans they will acquire.
Users wanted to immediately play parts of songs that they struggled with, so this feature was added.
Through the design, we wanted to emphasize that our app is targeted at motivating users to develop a habit, or invest more time into a hobby. We do that by providing a gamified experience which was weaved into the design. The design also makes feeedback salient by using visualizations to help the user identify and improve. This also serves as a measurement strategy to track progress.
The rhythm is determined by how fast or slow the user is strumming. We use the accelerometer in the Lilypad to determine this. We attached a Neopixel ring to communicate this information to the user - red for fast, blue for slow.
We realize that other micro-controllers will allow communicating via bluetooth, however, we only had access to the Lilypad for this project. We created a working prototype for this project (the images will be updated soon).
The design results in a gamified experience right from the home screen where the user is immersed into a Scenario where their progress is mapped onto crowd size.
The song selection screen allows users to go through a list of songs which can be filtered by genre. In addition, the user can sort the songs by difficulty. We plan to provide the user with recommendations to help them improve by providing suggestions as fan requests.
The user puts on the wearable on their strumming hand and tries to match the rhythm of the song based on the app. The system will provide immediate feedback to help the user.
Once the user has completed a song, the system will provide a visualization to show the user what they've done well and what they can improve upon. The visualization incorporates more in-depth feedback which the user can go through section-by-section.