Abstract

In this paper we describe a research study aiming to support designers in building empathy with Parkinson end-users through the introduction in the design process of a hand shaking wearable device with simulates Parkinson hand tremor. We describe the experience that designers gained by wearing the hand shaking device and the insights that they expressed towards the improvement of a specific product they tested the shaking device with, such as the gas hob. We then focus on a parallel user research with people with Parkinson's disease that was conducted in the same period in order to observe how actual users suffering from hand tremor interact with the gas hobs and the kitchen environment; which constrains they experience; which concerns they express, and eventually which design opportunities raise from the learnings gained by meeting the users. Our conclusion is that the hand tremor simulating device represents and innovative tool which temporarily can convey designers some physical effects caused by Parkinson’s disease where no other ways are possible nowadays, but the greater understanding of the end-users, and hopefully an empathic connection, can be reached when the simulated physical impairment is informed by close observation and active engagement with actual users

Keywords:

Empathy; User research; Simulation; Haptic interface; Parkinson.

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Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

Supporting the designers to build empathy with people with Parkinson's disease: the role of a hand tremor simulating device and of user research with end-users

In this paper we describe a research study aiming to support designers in building empathy with Parkinson end-users through the introduction in the design process of a hand shaking wearable device with simulates Parkinson hand tremor. We describe the experience that designers gained by wearing the hand shaking device and the insights that they expressed towards the improvement of a specific product they tested the shaking device with, such as the gas hob. We then focus on a parallel user research with people with Parkinson's disease that was conducted in the same period in order to observe how actual users suffering from hand tremor interact with the gas hobs and the kitchen environment; which constrains they experience; which concerns they express, and eventually which design opportunities raise from the learnings gained by meeting the users. Our conclusion is that the hand tremor simulating device represents and innovative tool which temporarily can convey designers some physical effects caused by Parkinson’s disease where no other ways are possible nowadays, but the greater understanding of the end-users, and hopefully an empathic connection, can be reached when the simulated physical impairment is informed by close observation and active engagement with actual users

 

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