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Designing the Intel Reader

End-User Personas

When we started developing the Intel Reader we talked with end users who allowed us to gain insight into their needs, and who gave us the opportunity to hear how they use current technology in their everyday lives. To obtain a deeper understanding for end-user needs, we began with usage research. As part of this phase, we interviewed targeted users, followed them through a day in their lives, and observed their daily challenges at home and at work, and asked for their insights on the challenges of daily living. Over the course of this project, we have interviewed and tested the product at various stages with over 200 individuals.

The process began by interviewing 20 end users from various target groups and developing a broad set of model personas to guide our design choices along the way. Initially, over 30 composite characters were generated, each representing key elements of the user population. The key characteristics, shown in Figure 2, articulate the key attributes of our user population and their user needs.

Figure 2: End-user key characteristics (Source: Intel Corporation, 2009)

Five potential target personas emerged from our research and findings, and two personas, described next, defined the boundary conditions for a successful product.

Persona 1

James is 67 years old and lives with his wife in St. Louis, MO, in the United States. He is a diabetic with health complications and deteriorating vision. His hands are a bit unsteady and he is losing sensation in them. His vision is getting less and less clear and he can no longer read unless he uses very strong magnification; even then some common fonts are too small for him to read. James struggles daily with controlling his diabetes. He tends to go through cycles of being in control followed by periods where he doesn't take care of himself. The guilt he feels about his health is contributing to depression.

James wants a device to read the newspaper so he can stay well-informed on current events. He likes to go out to dinner with his family, and he would like to pay for the meal without asking his children to read the total on the receipt, thereby regaining his head of the house role. In addition, James would like to use coupons, distributed in the mail or newspaper, when he goes shopping. If he had a reading device, he would use it also to read a variety of print material, such as mail, so he could sort junk mail from bills, read greeting cards from his grandchildren, read street signs, and read prescription instructions from the pharmacy.

Persona 2

Ethan is 14 and lives in Swindon in the UK. He is a student, living with his grandmother, and he was recently identified as dyslexic. He was doing pretty well in school until the reading level increased when he turned 13. Now that he has started high school, he is frustrated that he is in special education classes for a portion of the day, separated from his friends.

Ethan values discretion and does not want everyone to know that he is dyslexic. Ethan wants a device that looks modern and similar to other gaming devices that his friends have so that he would not draw attention to himself when he uses the device at school. He has a lot of reading to do for school, so he needs a tool to help him read books -- including text books, popular books, and magazines. In addition, he would like a device that would also allow him to listen to music.

For both James and Ethan, having a portable device is important so that they have the freedom to take it with them wherever they go and use it in a variety of environments, such as in a restaurant or on the school bus. Having a device that is light-weight, has a long battery life, and large storage capacity are all basic features that James and Ethan care about. In James's case, he wants something sturdy and solid, and not too small so that it becomes hard to operate. Ethan, on the other hand, wants something with a cool factor that looks high-tech and is small enough to fit into his backpack.

Our ethnographic research therefore highlighted for us the three key elements for a reading device: accuracy, convenience, and discretion. The device needs to accurately capture information; it needs to be easy to use anywhere, anytime; and it must allow users to maintain privacy in their everyday tasks. We, therefore, had our mission: design and develop an assistive technology product to meet the needs of both James and Ethan.

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