Happy Mail

Idea
After doing user research about the needs of elderly people we decided to focus our idea on improving communication between people living in elderly homes and the outside world. As a group we felt that it was a great shame that the elderly do not benefit from the internet and email like we do. Our core aim and value we wanted to create for the elderly was:

“how do you bring the joy of receiving a letter into an email”

The result was Happy Mail: a portable touch screen device that allows elderly people to receive emails and SMS messages from family in a context that uses a graphical user interface that is visually familiar to them – one that they can understand easily.

The elderly person receives their ‘mail’ every morning from a device, creating a milestone in their day, similar to when a postman would deliver mail. We hope to enable less isolation from the family and make the elderly feel more involved in their lives. It allows friends and family to use quick methods of communication that they are used to using (text, email) without imposing it on the elderly person

Context
We wanted to have a strong mental model of receiving, reading and writing letters throughout our concept. The home screen for the device is a writing table where letters will accumulate when you receive mail. The visuals and sizes of the mail illustrates the content. For example, a letter on the desktop is a normal email, a package on the desktop would be an email with a photo attachment and a note on the desktop would be a SMS message.

We also added an address book as the entry point to writing new messages, and a storage box function where you can store old ‘letters’.

Design Process
During this project we used a user centered design process. We broke it into three areas: Research, Development and Execution. We used a range of design methods through our process from observations and interviews in the research stage to brainstorming, storyboarding, experience prototyping, paper prototyping and user testing during the development stage. In the final stages of the project we used a range of techniques to illustrate our idea and tell a story. We fully designed the GUI for the device and mapped out the functions using a flow diagram. We created detailed scenario storyboards and used film to create a 30 second taster video.

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