Dell Interactive Projector

UX management for Dell S520 |  Product Development | UX Lead |  2013 - 2015 |  Generative & Evaluative Research. Design Iterations. 

 
 

Built for classrooms and collaboration spaces,
Dell Interactive projectors help engage participants and enable collaboration.

The Dell Interactive Projector S520, launched in Jan 2014, is a projector which
allows users to interact with the projected image using a stylus or touch.

It caters to schools and corporations seeking to utilize
personal devices and shared display together.

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The Dell S520 was to be the third generation of ultra-short throw projectors
from Dell, moving the interactive solution from pen based to touch.

It was a response to overwhelming customer feedback that touch interaction is
critical to Education customers from all grades and geographies.

As a Dell, it was also about taking advantage of the large push for Windows 8
capable products by delivering interaction (touch) to corporate collaboration.

 
 

My Role

The development model in place meant that the UX lead would take a consulting role, advising and providing recommendations to modify what the vendor is building.

I led the UX efforts through the development phase till launch. My priority then was to make sure key product experiences are satisfying to the end-users.

When there's design decisions to be made, I provided recommendations from a UX point of view, and I would follow through the implementation, working closely with the development team. I made it a point to ensure alignment between internal and external stakeholders from marketing, engineering and vendor development team based across US, Taiwan & Singapore.

After launch, I have been working with marketing, engineering, service, and external vendor to drive for improved customer experience in setup, use and support for next generation planning.

 
 
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The Challenge

The projector business runs with a small team, it's common for members to wear a few hats. It has been relying on vendor resources greatly, and the design seat has been left vacant for two three years.

The S520 solution features multi-touch capability and Intel® Wireless Display technology. These are introduced in 2014 into Dell projectors portfolio to enhance creation, communication and collaboration in classroom and meeting room environments.

When I was brought into the projector team, the S520 program was in the early development phase -- what was to be built has already been defined, product goals and features have been determined too.

The S520 was a complex program for the projector team on a few levels, attributing to it being new, unique and different, necessitating skilled planning, execution and coordination.

 

The Approach

 

Prioritize, focus and delight

Ensuring user satisfaction from setup to use, I kept a closer watch on key product experiences, around setting up and using wireless projection and touch. I also drove for modifications in system behaviors, hardware and software interface to communicate the Dell 'look and feel'. I focused on touch points that were new or unique to Dell.

Optimize & leverage core competencies

Working closely with the vendor engineering team, I led, managed and keep tracked of design iteration efforts to refine product experiences of new technologies and features offered in the S520, while influencing with a lighter touch, where the vendor was leading the efforts instead, in projection features which they would have more rigor and expertise.

Long term brand consistency and efficiency

I drove for consistent system behaviors, hardware and software user interface design.

This meant a user powering on or off a Dell projector, switching from one input source to the other or adjusting the controls of the projector from the On-Screen-Display menu, would have a consistent and familiar experience using any Dell projector or other Dell products.

It also meant that when the projector has low lamp life or has overheated and users try to get help, they will be referencing warning signals that are consistent across all Dell projectors.

These ensure long term brand consistency and efficiency for both customers and Dell. 

Closing the loop

Once a first prototype build was available, I flew in for a 5-day design review workshop with the vendor's project management and engineering teams. Open items were documented and tracked to ensure alignment and execution rigor. 

Later, back in Singapore, I ran a usability test to validate the 'beta' touch solution. This resulted in further improved accuracy, control and smoother ink strokes.

After product launch, I led benchmarking efforts to measure the S520 against competitors. Besides competitive usability evaluation and expert review, on-site observations and interviews were also conducted to gather a holistic perspective. The exercise identified areas done well and gaps for the team to address. Findings from the body of work translated into action items for near-term improvements and insights that inform future planning. 

 
 

Improving Setup Experience

 

In-product information & user documentation

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Instructions were incorporated into installation UI, so installers don’t have to refer to printed instructions manual. Step by step, wizard style UI is implemented to guide installers through the calibration process.

The S520 solution consist of a solution manufactured by various vendors. This led to each coming up with their own set of instructions for their own parts, and the outcome of that, was a fragmented installation process for the customers.

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I consolidated the installation instructions and produced the Installers’ Guide to help ease the installation process for customers

  • Copywriting

  • Content Development

  • Graphics Editing

 
 

Touch setup menu re-design:

  • Renaming of menu items into layman terms

  • Information Grouping of Setup Menu

 
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Familiar UI = Intuitive & Efficiency

 

Align & Consolidate

User Documentation, hardware and software user interface were refreshed and aligned to Dell Brand standards, delivering a consistent Dell experience that users would be familiar with.

 

Software Refresh | Design Principles

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  • Maintain consistency in Dell Projectors

  • Align with Dell software visual direction style

  • Reduce noise & prioritize key information

  • Flatten and simplify

  • Focus on content

  • Focus on black space

  • Limited Colors

  • Simple Illustration

 

 

Optimizing Touch Performance

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The S520 consists of an ultra-short throw projector, wall mount, 87-inch screen which doubles as a whiteboard, interactive solution kit, stylus and accessories. A working prototype wasn't as readily available compared to other standalone, smaller products.

Once it was available and installed in the Singapore office, it was critical to get useful user feedback and data to the development team so refinements can still be made in time.

I ran a quick usability test with internal participants, instead of a full fledge, formal usability test, considering time constraints. The point was doing enough, the fastest possible way to gather useful data.

Learnings from the usability test helped drive for a best-in-class touch experience.

 
 

Test Objectives

  • Evaluate whether S520, as an Interactive Projector, has met user expectations for touch interactions on a 87-inch screen

  • Gather user feedback and perceptions of touch experience

 

Method

  • 5 internal participants

  • Participants to evaluate touch experience using fingers and stylus in counterbalanced order

  • Collect response and quantitative data for:

  1. Speed and Responsiveness

  2. Accuracy in writing, drawing and overall usage

  3. Surface Texture

  4. Overall Satisfaction

  • All participants would perform the following tasks:

  1. Open coloring template in Microsoft Fresh Paint > Draw & color using default brush > free doodling

  2. Switch from Classic Desktop to Metro

  3. Open new file in 'MS Paint' > Write & draw using default brush > Free doodling > Save file on Desktop

 

Learnings

  • S520 is well-liked for its responsiveness; interactions felt direct and gestures take effect immediately

  • It was easy to navigate around Windows; touch gestures such as pan, zoom, rotate and tap, were performed well and easily

  • Participants would like to have improved accuracy and control for writing and drawing

  • Accuracy was affected by the behaviors:

    • Touch triggered before actually touching the whiteboard surface

    • "Jagged ink effect" during writing and drawing

  • Participants set their expectations based on their experience with what they are already using and exposed to:

    • Touch interactions = using other touch surfaces such as tablets and smartphones; Writing & Drawing = writing and drawing with marker on whiteboard / pen on paper

    • Responsiveness & Accuracy to be as good as what they get from other touch devices

    • Surface texture to be similar to what they feel when using a whiteboard marker

  

Impact

  • Improved accuracy and control for writing and drawing

  • Smoothen ink strokes

  • Softer pen tips to provide an experience closer to using whiteboard markers

 

Release, Measure & Listen, Evolve

 

three-tier study to benchmark the S520

  • Competitive Usability Study to evaluate how S520 fares against competitions in areas of its usability and overall usage experience from a user’s perspective.

  • Internal expert review to discover the relative strengths and weaknesses of competing designs from an expert’s perspective

  • Customer Visit: On-site observations and interviews to gather contextual learnings around installation, usage and support of S520 in actual educational environment

 

Takeaways

  • Education customer and product insights

  • Product recommendations – immediate fixes and near term and future considerations for next generation

  • Identified gaps to be addressed, driving out both immediate issues and future considerations from the scale of product, service and experience challenges to systems and organization challenges

  • Further research in Education Space

 
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