We live in a world in motion. In this provocation, we were challenged to collage a simple human power transportation technology with a novel interactive experience. What designs result when skateboards are equipped with accelerometers, a scooter knows its mileage, a stroller can talk, a wheelchair has superpowers?
Before our team’s deep-dive into a specific mode of transportation, we began by mapping out many different types of transportation modes. We put different modes of human-powered transportation on sticky notes, along with major ideas and themes that we developed as a team. We sketched out some initial concepts and thoughts to present to our peers to get feedback and continued to explore the intersection between transportation, data, and interaction. We had about 3-4 of these brainstorming meetings to narrow down to a topic, finally deciding to pursue transportation in water, with kickboards feeling nostalgic as well as open for a lot of opportunity for interactivity.
Many beginner swimmers have issues with their leg kicks. Here are two common mistakes that beginners make:
1. Kicking from the knees rather than the hips. The figure on the left reveals how not to kick (using your knees) while the figure on the right shows the correct way (using your hips).
2. Kicking with your ankle pointing forward creates drag. It’s best to point your toes so that your ankles are straight and in line with your straight legs.
ETHNOGRAPHIC USER RESEARCH
A swimming coach we interviewed said that one of the problems he had experienced once was when he was backstroke swimming, and accidentally (and painfully!) bumped his head on the wall.
We also talked to Arianna’s roommate, who swims recreationally, and she recounted how it was difficult for her to learn how to kick properly when she first started learning how to swim. She learned how to swim in a large class with many students, and so she didn’t get one-on-one instructor feedback to help her master her kicking properly.
A few open-ended questions to spark conversation during our interviews:
What are some of the obstacles you faced as a beginner swimmer?
How did kickboards help you when learning swimming?
What are the most important body movements and controls when it comes to swimming correctly?
How might we use dynamic assistive technology to improve current swimming education?
People usually use kickboards in a pool when they’re first learning how to swim. In order to properly use one, there is a certain technique to it— you gotta kick with your legs and ankles straight in order to propel yourself forward in the water. If you bend your joints too much, you won’t move as efficiently.
For our transportation device, we would modify a kickboard in order to help people learn how to kick/swim by providing feedback on their kicking technique.
An arc of LED’s would be positioned on the front edge of the kick board, which the user would hold in front of their face when they’re using it in the water. The LED’s would flash red, yellow, or green to indicate how well the user is kicking.
The user would wear four leg straps equipped with flex sensors: one on each ankle and one on each knee. These would detect how much the user is bending their joints. If they’re bending both their knees and ankles too much, then their technique is wrong, so the LED flashes red. And if their knees/ankles are straight enough, LED is green! And it flashes yellow if one or the other is bent too much.
If we continued to develop Kickstarter even further in the future, there are a few features we could change and improve that we came up with. We would like to make this kickboard a social experience by adding gaming features to it. The games could encourage better kicking technique or fun and play with other swimmers. All the kickboards in the pool could be connected wirelessly, and swimmers can race with each other or compare how well they are kicking. If a class of multiple swimmers were using these kickboards, and all of them were kicking well, then perhaps all of the LED’s could shine rainbow! We could also create an app that receives data from the kickboard and visualizes it. The app can show the highest combo of good kicks, rate the swimmer’s performance, and share results with friends.