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Moving Through Glass: Making the world more usable for people with Parkinson’s Disease


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Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD® program uses the training and techniques of professional dance to improve the lives of Parkinson’s sufferers. Founded in 2001, the program was an immediate success and, by 2014, classes were being taught in more than 80 countries around the world. But Program Director David Leventhal wanted to deepen that reach and allow participants to use Dance for PD’s powerful tools outside of the classroom and in their daily lives.

Working with a grant from Google, Dance for PD enlisted Manhattan-based digital agency SS+K to develop Moving Through Glass, the first-ever augmented reality application providing round-the-clock aid for people living with Parkinson’s.

Kevin Skobac, SVP of Digital Strategy at SS+K, and Executive Producer Craig von Wiederhold will discuss the design and development of Moving Through Glass through the lens of a key ‘re-learning’ the unique project afforded them: the core of great usability design is always empathy.

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Moving Through Glass: Making the world more usable for people with Parkinson’s Disease

  1. 1. Moving Through Glass Making the world more usable for people with Parkinson’s Disease
  2. 2. The Dance For PD® Technique ●  Use visual and auditory cues to initiate movement ●  Mirror, Imitate, and Entrain ●  Express meaning through gesture ●  Use rhythm to locomote ●  Develop strategies to maintain balance
  3. 3. The Challenge How to bring Dance For PD® techniques out of the classroom and into the daily lives of participants.
  4. 4. SS+K, a boutique agency with a big client list, about one third of which are political and philanthropic causes, including the Obama campaigns, Smile Train, The Gates Foundation, and Planned Parenthood. SS+K LABS, an incubator of innovative creative technologies exploring nascent mediums, platforms, and technologies through the development of unique products and services.
  5. 5. SS+K LABS We build lots of interfaces. Mostly for people like us:
  6. 6. SS+K LABS Healthy Young (some of us) Urban Digitally savvy Overly caffeinated Craig Von Wiederhold John Swartz Scott Park Amos Bloomberg Kevin Scobac
  7. 7. SS+K LABS This project re-taught the fundamental principle of good User Experience design: Put yourself in your User’s place.
  8. 8. Getting Started: Key Decisions Keep the Dance For PD vision intact: ●  Augment real-world classes ●  Focus on what helps people move, not on gadgetry ●  Allegiance to learnings from discovery
  9. 9. Google Glass Seemed like the perfect platform •  Hands-free with optical display, it augments the real world rather than replacing it •  Portable; can go anywhere, any time •  Easily controlled via voice or manual taps and swipes
  10. 10. Our Users Parkinson's is a degenerative disorder of the CNS mostly affecting older people. Associated symptoms include: •  Difficulty with both initiation and attenuation of movement •  Tremors •  Weakness and/or rigidity of limbs and body •  Difficulties with balance •  Thinking and behavioral problems, possibly including dementia in later stages. •  Older adults, so vision and hearing issues are common
  11. 11. Our Users Real World Difficulties: ●  Awakening ●  Getting on their feet ●  Walking on empty streets ●  Freezing
  12. 12. Four routines from morning to night
  13. 13. First Design and Prototype ●  Full Google Glass software suite combined with Moving Through Glass software ●  ”Warm Me Up,” “Balance Me,” “Unfreeze Me” each 10-15mins long ●  “Walk with Me” has continuous video ●  Speak or touch anytime, multiple gestures available ●  Myriad options for controlling experiences, including video scrolling, adjusting routine speeds, custom music selections
  14. 14. We re-learn the lesson: Usability is about the User.
  15. 15. Learnings User ●  Difficulty with fine motor control ●  Difficulty controlling speech ●  Need to work at their own pace ●  Older population, sometimes with cognitive impairments. Glass ●  Small, sensitive input touchpad ●  Voice commands ●  UI times out, processor overheats during extended video, battery life ●  Complex UI based on metaphor of a timeline; Switching between applications, adjusting settings are difficult
  16. 16. The Final Build •  OS rooted, all applications removed except MTG and essential settings •  Simplified Menu •  Speech input disabled •  All functions can be run using just two simple input gestures: tap and swipe down •  Simplified application flow, with ubiquitous on-screen instructions at every step. •  Application auto-play through all exercises in each module after start
  17. 17. How It Works
  18. 18. How It Works
  19. 19. “Warm Me Up”
  20. 20. “Warm Me Up”
  21. 21. “Warm Me Up”
  22. 22. “Warm Me Up”
  23. 23. “Walk With Me” – begin with video & music
  24. 24. “Walk With Me” – after 30 seconds, video stopped, music plays continuous loop
  25. 25. “Walk With Me” - tap brings back video for 30 sec.
  26. 26. “Walk With Me” – tap increases speed, swipe down reduces it
  27. 27. Results •  20 Glass in use at Mark Morris Dance Center, Brooklyn •  Ongoing testing at Weill Cornell Medical, Stanford University, and Syracuse University •  Awarded the Tolley Medal from Syracuse University •  Recognition from One Show and UX Awards •  Featured in Journal of American Medical Association
  28. 28. Next Steps Exploring applications of AR/VR and IoT devices for •  Enhanced immersive experience •  Situational & spatial therapies •  Bio-monitoring & reporting
  29. 29. Thank You!