Walking at night can be a nightmare for some people. With the main issue being, people are extremely uncomfortable when walking alone outside at night.
While most products on the market aims to address the physical dangers, we focused on the psychological danger and our goal was to help people stay calm while walking alone at night time. The research findings showed that lighting is one of the top concerns many people have when they consider the safety of walking at night. Therefore, we designed SOLO, a lighting device, that people can carry out to enhance their feelings of safety when they walk outside at night.
During the research phase, we collected data from various sources to understand the dangerous of walking at night. We also designed survey and conducted interviews with students to find the roots of the safety issues. During the process, they were asked to share their night walking experience and safety products they used. They were also asked to explain what make them feel unsafe, the strategies they use to stay safe, and what helps them to overcome fears.
Online Survey (80 responses)
When we finished our initial research and processed the findings, we started developing our concept for solutions. During the process, we spent a lot of time to tweak and modify the concept and conduct additional research to gather sufficient information to support our idea. We began with our first HMW statement: How might we help people feel safe while walking outside at night?
During the design process, we noticed that there were some unanswered questions we need to address.
Given that people have different interpretations about the meaning of safety, it was difficult for the team to develop a solution without a clear understanding. Therefore, we researched about the definition of safety, and we found out two concepts: Objective Security & Subjective Security. These two concepts helped us to better define our problem and build a key direction on how we should design our product.
This type of security is based on the factual information. It is about how safe you actually are. For example, the crime rate of Savannah is high so people will think it is more dangerous to walk outside at night alone.
This type of security is more personal and it is about how the person perceives the outside world. For international students, they might feel less safe walking outside at night in Savannah as they are new to the area and not familiar with the neighborhood. But for local US or Savannah students, they feel less danger at night because they are more familiar with the culture and people here.
We focused on the unintentional moments. We fully understand do not enjoy walking outside at night. While we do not encourage people to go out alone, we recognize there could be some situations that people do not intend to stay outside but they have to do it. For example:
1. Waiting at bus stop outside
2. Getting food delivery at night
3. Walking to the parking lot to get the car
While there are many existing products (e.g.Pepper Spray & Taser) focus on "self-defense" which mostly addresses an external threats against a user, we would like to focus on the internal side that calm the users to overcome their internal fear and anxiety.
How might we help people stay calm, whenever they have to go out at night?
Our team spent time to do a Crazy 8 ideation exercise which aims to aid in the brainstorming and generation of fresh and interesting ideas in a quick way. Through this exercise, we created 40 ideas including wearable devices, virtual buddies, and lighting devices. After listening to the students feedback and consulting with our professor, we decided to leverage the lighting function to further develop on our final product.
To facilitate our design development, and make sure everything is aligned, we set some design principles as guidelines to develop the features and functions of the product
Having good lighting will not only provide a practical impact but also emotional impact to our users. It allows us:
We sketched out the design and the potential features of the product on paper and we explored different shapes and forms.
Then we used pink form to create lo-fi prototypes and conduct quick user test. We asked students to share feedback about they like and dislike on different shapes and explain why. After considering students feedback and internal discussion, we chose the “lock-shape” design that allows people to place their finger on the hole to hold the product or let it stand alone.
Here is the students comment on things they like and dislike:
Things they like: Stand on table, Round edges, Long to fit in hand, but kinda thin, Flat faces on edges, Organic shape (like a stone)Worry stone for button
Things they dislike: Too thin, not enough to grab, Too big, don’t want to carry
After that, we 3D printed the form with two round iterations, fine-tuning the size and details.
We designed the products with 3 key interactions:
This is the Arduino Schematic. Rather than using the Arduino Uno, we chose to utilize the Seeeduino Xaio which is about the size of a quarter. This allows us the have a more compact form.
We used the LED lights in the Arduino box to make a quick functional prototype. And we went to the Forsyth Park at night to test the lighting as well as doing an onsite observation to understand the outdoor situation at night.
To ensure all components can fit inside the product, we also designed the interior look of the product to figure out how where to place each component.
Before we glued all the wires and components in the case, we ran our final test to make sure everything works.
For our final presentation, it was very unfortunate that we failed to present the completed physical prototype as we miscalculated the size and we couldn't close the case. However, we successfully demonstrate all features of the product (using the incomplete prototype) to the class! Here are some of the slides of our final presentation.
This project is one of the most challenging project I had so far. During the process, we kept modifying our concept until we come up with the final idea. I spent a lot of time for internal discussions in the early stage which makes us we lack of time to do the prototype. It was also a very exciting experience as it was my first project that we really made something physically. The most fulfilled moment was when we tested the program and it successfully completed all the commands we wanted. Here is my key takeaway from this project:
Take the initiative
At the very beginning, our team was not very communicative and everyone worked independently without much coordinations, which made our work not consistent and misaligned. Even though I noticed that, I did not voice it out in the group as I was afraid I will make myself as a difficult person to work with. Until we faced a lot of critiques after the mid-term presentation, I finally talked about it to the team and I realized they also noticed that but did not raise it out. I learnt that being honest with the team should never be a harmful thing. So next time, I will take the initiative when I spot any issue within the team.