FuzzyChat -

a case study

What’s FuzzyChat?

FuzzyChat is an app to improve the quality of communication between humans and pets. It needs to be convenient and easily accessible, so that humans and their pets can have a better quality of life and potentially save each others’ lives during emergencies. 

Inspiration

I wanted a capstone that I would enjoy and sustain my interest in the long run.  I(and others I know) interact with pets, but can't always understand what they're saying, so I figured why not make a pet translator?

 

For this project, "pets" is limited to cats and dogs, which are the most common household pets.

The Problem Space

Pets getting returned or abandoned because of unwanted behaviours.

 

HMV...

...create clear communication between pets and humans, so they can live in a harmonious household?

Overarching Goal:

To save more pets by increasing the number of happy adoptions

Problems caused:

●  More money being spent on pet medications & vet check-ups

●  Increased stress & misery for the humans and pets

●  Buying unwanted/unused pet toys, food, or material goods

●  Unwanted behaviour from pets (spraying, damaging furniture/objects)

●  Increased tensions between the people in the household (Your dog did this. It’s me or the dog.)

●  Humans may spend more $$$ on vices and meds for relief

●  Pets being abandoned or returned to shelters - both can potentially turn into death sentences, the latter can be as few as 3 days

Objectives

  1. Improve communication between pet owners & their pets

  2. Increase quality time spent together

  3. Decrease stress (no more shredding the furniture or cleaning up extra messes)

  4. Help pet owners save money

  5. Improve health of owners & pets (less visits to doctor or vet, and less medications needed)

Design Challenge Outline & Constraints

The design challenge is creating an app from concepts on paper to a hi-fi prototype within 8 weeks.  

 

The time limit and technology constraints are the largest obstacles for me.  Due to the time limit, I had to choose the prototyping software I was most familiar with: InVision, or risk having an incomplete prototype.

My app also requires software that supports voice input, which is not currently available with InVision. As a result, I created a chat-like interface to simulate a speech-to-text function.  An unexpected benefit is that it amused testers.

Key Insights

100% of testers wanted to use the app – making it a viable product.  Users want it on their phone for portability and ease of use.

 

 

 

 

Keep the icons obvious and easy to see.

It will help avoid confusion, especially for users who are not tech-savvy. Users are likely frustrated use and  stressed out from lack of communication with their pets.

Place important CTAs and icons near the center or where they normally are in other apps.

This is mainly to do with the camera’s shutter button. Its placement in most apps is middle-bottom.

Opportunities of Intervention

 

The main one is true pet translators do not exist at this time.  Anyone who owns a beloved pet knows the pet has much to say to them.

The practical side is to save pet lives, and they in turn can save human lives ranging from companionship to alerting of danger. 

Research

My primary research involved looking for pet adoption return statistics.  My data is mainly from pet shelters located in North America.

 

Secondary research involved viewing other people's research articles.  The most intriguing are:

  • A field of study called animal-computer interaction, where animals are trained to touch computer devices to communicate signals or pre-recorded voices.

  • Spirit box appsThese detect the ambient temperature and present EMFs.  The combination is linked to a word the spirit is believed to want to communicate to the users.

In comparison, translation apps and devices can translate 100+ human languages… yet we can’t translate the vocalizations of a single dog to human words.

Persona

How I came up with my persona is based on typical pet owners.  They want the company of a pet and also be able to maintain order in their household.  A troublesome pet would likely get returned or surrendered.

User Experience Mapping

For experience mapping, I chose typical pains and a route a user would take when first onboarding.  It begins with frustrations of not finding resources to onboarding the app and using it.

Task Selection Process 

Its core function is to translate pet language, which has to be included.  I felt just a translator wasn't enough and wanted to provide more of a package to really track pets and added extra functions.  I wanted to give testers a tour of the app by having them complete a pet profile.  

 

Tasks:

  1. create a bio page

  2. do a translation 

  3. save it in the audio files

  4. take a photo

  5.  make a diary entry.

Visualization & Prototyping

Visualizing the screens for the app was a challenge.  Language translation apps with text functions have basic forms.  I recalled an objective was to make it fun, so it was another reason to make the translation screen resemble a chat because the pet is talking to the user in some capacity.  

 

Ultimately, it would have a true speech-to-text function.  The sounds the pet makes turn into text on-screen, as well as what the human says.

I started with pencil sketches, then moved onto a greyscale mockup.  The screens gained life once I added colour and images.

Early Sketches:

Greyscale screens:

Hi-fi screens:

Marketing Site:

Visual identity

FuzzyChat is a play on words as the user will be chatting with someone fuzzy.  Orange evokes feelings of fun, creativity, and comfort.  Blue is universally favoured for technology and communication.  

 

The customized wordmark features a pet’s mouth and tail.  The pawprint motif is to reinforce pet interaction.

Design Impact &

Future Thinking

Nearly 50% of Canadian  households have pets., If ideas for new functions are needed, there are plenty of people to receive  improvement suggestions from.  Because FuzzyChat is made for the people and their pets, it has to continually evolve to fit their needs.

I picked this card from Tarot Cards of Tech  and my answers are:

I feel nature would like a voice translation of their own.  Plants are living things that respond to stimuli.  It would be interesting to have an app that can "hear" them and check on their needs.

The feedback would be positive since animals are considered part of nature.   I'm sure the trees and flowers want to be heard, too.

The most unsustainable behaviour is screen time takes away from enjoying the outdoors.  Yes, a person can experience both, but their attention can only be in one place at a time.  It's about finding balance.

Next Steps:

1)Build in Adobe XD to make use of voice input and get closer to my vision

2) Build an Android version to support Android users

3) Remake the profile icons using a smaller colour palette to match the rest of the app

4) Find more people to user test to expand on the app's functions

5) Get together a team of devs and data people and discuss what we can build

Conclusions:

 

  • FuzzyChat as a pet translator is a viable product

  • 100% of user testers want it as an app for their phone

  • Keep important buttons & CTAs visible and towards the middle

  • Keep icons and images recognizable

  • Maintain the gentle learning curve

  • Even non-pet owners want to use it

Reflections:

I learned I have to be more bold showcasing ideas.  Basically, take an idea or unconventional concept and run with it.  Find ways it could benefit users.  Think of different user groups.

Problem spaces don't have to be large, but there's always solutions.  I took the problem of pets being returned and found a possible solution for it.  I'm creating this app for others and it's a bonus that it serves me, too.

Mistakes I've made are not having enough duplicate copies of my Sketch files and not having a better file naming convention.  There were a few times I became confused on which is the newest version and which one I should upload.  I will start adding consecutive numbers to my file names.  

 

Time constraints are challenge of their own.  No matter how much I preplan projects, the best ideas always come to me in the last hours.  If I put in the bulk of the work earlier in the week, it's less painful later.

Takeaways from this project:

  • Keep the users' needs in mind

  • Use unconventional thinking to solve problem spaces

  • User testing is important for gaining valuable insight and product improvements

  • Find new ways to expand the audience

  • Research how this app would be received in other countries

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