User Journeys

Version 1
Discovering the Service
One night, while looking for the latest and greatest photography app for his iPhone, Ethan discovers Story Forest. He quickly skims over the description.

Story Forest shares and replays your memories at locations where they were made within a city.

He also notices that the service allows him to import photos from his favorite photo storage service, Flickr. He downloads the app and imports his photos. Afterwards, the app lists the different cities that he has photographed in. With NYC being his current city, he sets it to his default location. He is then brought to a map that shows where his photos have been taken. There’s also an option to navigate photos by years. As he flicks through the timeline, he notices that the concentration of photos change from one part of the city to another.

Initial setup screens after importing photos from photo online  service, e.g. Flickr

Browsing memories by year

Capturing a Memory
Ethan’s grandma has been suffering from dementia for the past several years and recently, her condition has gotten worse. The family has divided up the responsibility to keep her company throughout the week.

It was Sunday and it was Ethan’s turn to visit. During the visit, he turns on the app and takes a photo of her as she enjoys her favorite pastime meal, Vietnamese pho, which Ethan had picked up for her earlier. The app logs the location of the photo, associates it with the rest of the other photos taken within that location, and stores it into Story Forest’s online database.

How a memory tree works

How a memory tree works

The memory tree grows larger as it gathers memories

The memory tree grows larger as it gathers memories

Sharing a Memory
Ethan also has the option to associate an audio recording to the memory and/or share with others. Delighted with the response that his grandma had with the familiar food, he tags his family members to that memory. Since they don’t have Story Forest accounts yet, he sends them an email containing the memory notification (location and title) along with a link to the sign-up form.

Recording a memory and sharing it with family

Adding family members that currently do not have a Story Forest  account

The newest memories grow towards the top of the memory tree

The app then informs Ethan about the memory tree located at the nursing home. It has grown another branch as a result of the newly contributed memory. The app also reminds Ethan that once he accesses the memory, it will be unavailable to him until it re-emerges next year. In order to access the memory, he has to be 1) standing within the vicinity of where the photo was taken and 2) it has to be within an hour of the photo’s original time stamp. This again applies to photos that have re-emerged a year later.

Since the tree was already filled with memories (photos imported from the sign-up process earlier) from previous visits, Ethan doesn’t worry about the lack of memories that the tree has to offer.

Memory Recall
Around 7PM, Ethan is preparing to leave the nursing home as his grandma gets ready for bed. At 7:15PM, he makes his way out of the front lobby when all of a sudden his phone goes off. He looks at his phone and it’s a photo that he took last year of his grandma on that same day around that same time. It’s a picture of Harry with grandma when she was in a better mental and physical state.

Ethan receives a message from the app when the memory becomes  accessible

Memory Response
While looking at the photo, he notices that there’s an option to leave an audio response. Slightly overtaken by the emotional state that he was in, he leaves a message about how proud he was about his grandma being able to hang in for so long especially in her current state. He also tags Harry to the memory.

Ethan leaves behind a voice recording

Sign Up
A few days later, Harry receives an email from Story Forest informing him that there are two memories in Queens waiting for him. Out of curiosity, he signs up and downloads the app to his mobile device.

Since he didn’t have class that day, he decides to visit their grandma in Queens. Later that evening, as Harry tucks his grandma to bed, his phone alerts him that a memory has emerged from the memory tree. Harry accesses the memory and it turns out that it was a photo of him and grandma from a year ago. Upon reflection, he responds with an audio recording and a new sub-branch forms from the original branch signifying his response. A notification is then sent to everyone tagged to that memory chain, in this case, Ethan.

Growing a Memory Tree
The next weekend, Ethan visits his grandma again. It was nice out that day and so he decided to take her out for a short walk. Fortunately, there was a floral shop right down the street. He decides to walk her over to the store to purchase her a flower. After handing over the flower to his grandma, he notices her eyes light up. Filled with happiness, he decides to record the moment. He takes out his phone and photographs his grandma holding the flower. He also leaves behind a voice recording with a cameo appearance by his grandma. She briefly talks about why she chose the flower that she did. Since no other previous memories were recorded in the vicinity of the floral shop, a new memory tree was formed along with its first branch containing the photo and audio recording.

Forest Visualization
A month later, Ethan upgraded his iPhone to an iPhone 3GS. After syncing his new phone, he turns on the Story Forest app and notices a feature that he had not noticed before: augmented reality. Looking out his window from the 12th floor, he turns on the app. He then points the app out towards the city and sees a plethora of trees covering the cityscape. In the distance, beyond the East River, somewhere in Queens, stood a tall tree. Without a doubt, it was where his grandma’s nursing home was located.

How Augmented Story Forest Works
Memory trees take on several different states and reflect similar behaviors as those exhibited by the physical trees around us.

  • Adult Solid Leaf – a memory that can be accessed.
  • Adult Semi-Transparent Leaf – as a memory approaches the time that it was recorded, the leaf transitions from a semi-transparent state to a solid state.
  • Child Leaf – a memory that is in the process of growing back after being accessed. It takes a year for a memory to grow back.

5 Years Later
Ethan’s grandma passed away after a short battle with cancer a few years ago. As he goes about the daily grind of working and living in New York City, he keeps his memories of her safely tucked away in the back of his mind, as he did with his baseball cards, comic books, and childhood toys back at his parent’s home in New Jersey.

One morning, during his commute from his new home in Astoria into Manhattan on the above ground N/Q/R line, he turns on the Story Forest app to see how his forest of memories have grown throughout the years. In the distance, he once again comes across the even taller tree located at his grandma’s nursing home.

Later that evening after work, he decides to head over to the nursing home with his brother. As they reach the front entrance, Ethan turns on the app. He then pans the phone over to the nursing home and notices the leaves on the tree fading in and out as they chronologically arrive and depart from when each memory was recorded. There are also memory trees lined up along the street where Ethan used to take short walks with his grandma. The two brothers take a seat at the bench located right outside of the nursing home and spend the rest of the evening reminiscing about their grandma. They were happy to know that even though she was no longer physically there with them, she was still there in their memories.

Version 2
The following user journey goes into a further detail via illustrations about planting new stories, adding moments to those stories, and eventually sharing them.

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Story Tree prop made out of a pole, cardboard paper, duct tape, and foam core.

prop-1

Story Tree prop made out of a pole, cardboard paper, duct tape, and foam core.

prop-1

prop-1

General outline for what I want to show in the next user journey

sketch-final-user-journey

General outline for what I want to show in the next user journey

Bob the Mountain Man giving us a tour of his Story Forest

user-journey-v3

Bob the Mountain Man giving us a tour of his Story Forest

v4-userJourney-2

v4-userJourney-2

The third scene takes place in Grand Central

v4-userJourney-3

The third scene takes place in Grand Central

The second scene takes place in a restaurant

v4-userJourney-2

The second scene takes place in a restaurant

The first scene takes place in a park

v4-userJourney-1

The first scene takes place in a park

Longer fades = Longer Passage of Time

tips-from-hou-1

Longer fades = Longer Passage of Time

tips-from-hou-2

tips-from-hou-2


Version 3
Buckskin Bob is a modern day mountain man, living in New York City. He invites us to relieve with him, some of his favorite moments and locations in Story Forest. During his tour, he accomplishes the following:

  1. Relieves previous moments (photos, audio) by accessing Story Trees at various locations
  2. Uses the Augmented Forest feature to find his way around Story Forest
  3. Uses the Compass feature when he’s within close vicinity of a Story Tree
  4. Captures a moment (inputting a moment into a Story Tree)

Before heading out to shoot footage for the user journey, I did some tests at home to get an idea as to how all of this would work.

I also worked on storyboard sketches, which captures Bob’s tour through the city.

Bob the Mountain Man giving us a tour of his Story Forest

Bob the Mountain Man giving us a tour of his Story Forest

The following story is a rough version where I tested and played around with different stories, camera angles, use of props, music, and so on. Note: All iPhone screens seen in the video are not final. They are just placeholders.

Lessons Learned

  • The most interesting sequence is the last part where our friend Buckshot Bob relives his experience with his companion leaving his side at Grand Central Station.
  • Since I’m trying to keep this video down to at most 2:00, there needs to be a common thread that weaves through all three story points in order to get the point acros (refer to first bullet point).
  • As mentioned by Liz Danzico (the Chair of our program), try to do all the explaining of the details/workings/etc. at the beginning. For example, the part where Buckshot Bob pulls a leaf off the tree and views the individual memory via iPhone gets a bit tedious and repetitive. Instead, do it once at the beginning and the remaining memory accesses will be implied.
  • Filming user journeys require a lot of planning! I never realized how important it was to film a scene in a specific sequence so that all shots aligned with each other, especially when doing cuts later on. How detailed you ask? It’s like explaining to a robot how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, step by step.
    Story Tree prop made out of a pole, cardboard paper, duct tape, and foam core.

Story Tree prop made out of a pole, cardboard paper, duct tape, and foam core.

Version 4
After a brief brainstorming session with fellow schoolmate and 1st year student (soon to be 2nd) Sera Koo, I came up with a general plan of attack for the next user journey. This updated version revolves around a character and their reminiscing about a loved one at various locations within the city.

General outline for what I want to show in the next user journey

General outline for what I want to show in the next user journey

Learning from my previous storyboard sketching, I created another set of sketches, but this time, using Post-Its. Storyboarding through this method allowed me to:

  • Consider the essence of each shot within a 3″x3″ sheet of paper
  • Collaborate with others on what does and doesn’t belong in each shot (Thanks Angela Huang, Clint Beharry, Evinn Quinn, and Jeff Kirsch)
  • Break each scene down into finer details
The first scene takes place in a park

The first scene takes place in a park

The second scene takes place in a restaurant

The second scene takes place in a restaurant

The third scene takes place in Grand Central

The third scene takes place in Grand Central and ends up back at the park

Longer fades = Longer Passage of Time

"Longer fades = Longer Passage of Time" - David Hou

After numerous days of shooting, 3 days to be exact, I filmed all the necessary shots. The final version went through multiple edits, mostly on getting the screens of the app to display crystal clear. Before introducing the video, I’d like to thank Sera Koo (Beth) and David Eng-Wong (Dave) for spending their sunny afternoons shooting this video, despite having to address their own finals.

And here we go, the 4th version of the Story Forest user journey. Here’s the abbreviated version, which will be included in my presentation.

This next one is the longer version showing off more of the functionality and will be displayed at my thesis space during the Open IXD ’11 show. Note: Sound not included in this one.

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