Seeing a set of photos that display your daily routine might not seem interesting, but once you realize that reality doesn’t always match perception, you’ll change your mind. I’ve spent the last few months wearing/using a Narrative Clip and the experience has been interesting to say the least. I started wearing the clip every morning, throughout the day, until I went to bed. Unfortunately, that stopped when I accidentally flung my Narrative Clip across the Belmont train station during a busy Chicago morning. I quickly learned that the clip comes un-clipped very easily. From that point on, I wore my clip during work hours only. Once I solved that problem, another problem arose. My clip fit perfectly on a collared shirt, but not very well on other types of shirts. I used my creative mind to clip my narrative to a necklace, making quite the fashion statement. This solved the problem for a while, as long as I remembered to bring it with me to the office. There was another aspect to my physical experience that was unexpected. People asked me what I was wearing. When I explained the device, some people were uncomfortable with it while others were fascinated. In both cases, my interactions became unrealistic. This was a problem because my documented experience was improbable and I was hoping to capture realism.
This leads me to the design principle that my experience closely relates to:
Personalize without distracting.
Wearables provide a direct connection between people and technology, and it’s crucial that the device provides an experience tailored to the person wearing it. This means not only learning about user goals, but also who the user is — whatever metrics might drive specific, relevant insights related to their data.
(To read our full set of design principles, check out the article UX Design Principles for Wearables.)
I purchased this wearable with the intention of learning more about my behavior, as well as that of those around me. I was hopeful to gather new insight regarding my routines and habits. When the device hindered me from doing this, I became frustrated and disinterested in my goal. I wanted to easily remember my device in the morning, easily keep it fastened to my body, easily record my experience and lastly, easily save that data. The recording of the experience was seamless. Every 30 seconds a photo was taken, and if I chose to take a photo on command the device consistently complied. The saving of the data, however, was a little more difficult. I have the Narrative 1 version; the Narrative 2 has since fixed many of these problems. My narrative uploads data through a USB drive. This process takes a while, but upon completion the data is uploaded to the app, as well as the native app. I can open either one and view my full day through a timeline or see a compressed view of the day curated by Narrative. The last important piece of this ecosystem is battery power. Unfortunately, the battery power does not last very long and the only way to charge the device is by using the same USB drive used to upload photos. As a result, I had to charge my device in the morning as I arrived to work every day. This was time consuming and a bit frustrating, but worth the results.
I followed this process everyday in order to reach my goal of gathering new insight about my routine and behavior. I learned a lot about what I do during the day, and what I do not do during the day, sometimes to my dismay. One anecdote from my experience was a particular conversation I had with a close friend. I wore my narrative clip through the one hour exchange, and parted ways with a positive perception of our communication. Later that evening, I uploaded my photos and looked back on the hour long conversation with my friend. To my surprise, I watched my friend’s expression slowly slide to confusion and eventually sorrow. I thought back on the topics we discuss and the terms we used to describe our opinions. Although I remember moments of disappointment, I didn’t remember them, as it appeared, as immensely as my friend did. The exposure to this learning led me directly to reconnecting with my friend. As it turned out, she was much more afflicted by our conversation than I observed first hand. The Narrative helped me learn the true nature of our time together, removed from the personal bias that I brought to our meeting.
The three months I spent tracking my daily experiences inside the office evolved into a game of perspectives. By the end of the second month, I started leaving my Narrative on my desk to gather a new point of view. For the first time, I was seeing myself interact with others, instead of watching others interact with me. All in all, the experience was fascinating and a perfect experiment of self reflection.
Do you have a Narrative? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experiences with us, or tweet @fuzzymath.
Our monthly newsletter is targeted at those with an interest in UX design, research, and strategy.