Hydroponics Automation and Analytics

Hydrobase is a platform for controlling and analyzing plant growth in order to optimize for nutrition and environmental sustainability. I'm developing it with a team of UC Berkeley graduate students. Below is a screenshot of an interactive prototype I created in Justinmind. To see it in action, check out this video.


User Research at Autodesk

At Autodesk I was responsible for conducting user research on update notifications and highlighting new tools in AutoCAD, Autodesk’s flagship product. Much of the image content below is blurred due to the confidential nature of the work, however I find that the pictures still help to illustrate the process. In addition to creating and analyzing surveys and remote usability tests, I was charged with conducting one-on-one in-depth interviews with customers to better understand their needs. 

After the interviews were completed, I organized my findings into an affinity diagram with intersecting topic areas. Each post-it represents an insight and is color coded using the Rose, Bud, Thorn Technique. Green = current software strength, yellow = opportunity area and red = criticism. Orange post-its respresent topic areas.

Upon finished the affinity diagram, I broke down customer feedback into prospective features, and presented them to my colleagues. I then had them gather around a board with four quadrants. One axis represented level of difficulty, the other importance. My coworkers then proceeded to take post-its with features written on them and debated where on the matrix they should be placed. In the end, we had a board that categorized all feature opportunities into quick wins, major projects, hard slogs and fill-ins.


3D Home Configurator

Blu Homes 3D Configurator Promo Video

My role and context

Upon graduation from the University of Michigan, I joined a high-tech startup homebuilder called Blu Homes. After a few months at my new job, I began to lead an initiative to develop a 3D web-based application that would allow customers to simultaneously experience our homes spatially, to discover our products’ numerous permutations and to generate real-time pricing for their selected building specifications. Nothing like it existed in our industry. We named this digital tool the "Blu Homes Configurator." Development was a major collaborative effort that I lead through several prototyped iterations. My role was part project manager and part software architect. I designed the initial UI mockups and storyboards, developed early configurator 3D models, defining their standards, and built the content management system from scratch. To date, Blu's customers have saved over 30,000 home configurations.

The Configurator can be accessed here: bluhomes.com/homeconfigurator

configurator swatches-01.jpg

This video shows a user selecting a home model, customizing specifications and saving the design for later access. The 3D visualization and price update after each choice.

Press

Since launching publicly in October 2011, the Blu Homes Configurator has been recognized by several media outlets such the New York Times, WiredBloombergVenture Beat, GizmodoPC World, EntrepreneurJetson Green, Grist and Thrillist. Click on the images to the right to see their stories.

 

Navigation

The Configurator has three types of navigation: exterior orbital, interior walk-through and birds-eye pan/zoom. We completed extensive user testing with customers, internal employees, friends and family to make the system intuitive. Dozens of rotation and walking speeds were evaluated so customers could move around efficiently without getting nauseous. People can explore our homes by clicking and dragging on the environment, tapping on screen buttons or pressing keyboard arrows. We even enabled Xbox gamepads! Users can also change their height to personalize the home exploration experience.

3D navigation tutorial

Process and Feedback

Collecting feedback on Configurator UI from coworkers

Enlarge and rollover the images above to learn about early interface and content development.

Palettes

One of the most innovative features in the Blu Homes Configurator gives users the ability to select and customize palettes. In an earlier build,  the Configurator had over 50 categories in which to choose specifications. This gave customers an incredible amount of control but it was time consuming, designs often came out unattractive and it made people feel overwhelmed. Palettes solve this by grouping together several categories of specifications in a given room, such as cabinets, flooring, countertop, backsplash and wall paint color. Blu's product designers make sure materials in the different palette categories look cohesive together. Customers now can make one selection instead of five, however, if they want to tweak just one category, the configurator allows users to customize palettes. The animation below simulates the selection of various default kitchen palettes.

Simulation of kitchen palette selection

Simulation of kitchen palette selection

Leading Blu Homes Configurator workshop with prospective home buyers

Leading Blu Homes Configurator workshop with prospective home buyers