My Process Performing some Selection Style Design

The following exemplifies one instance of myself doing design work and following my ‘Develop Requirements process’ (Or my DRP) . In this case, I was individually tasked to find some suitable touchscreen devices that can be used by dementia patients to interact with a software-based solution my design class team was developing. We had discussed and intentionally chose to have me do a selection style design, rather than pick a device. The main reason was time, since it was only going to be doing this selection and this was also only a small portion of a larger design project.

To start, I used the somewhat hastily constructed requirements my team had already created for the solution as a whole, (meaning for software and the physical device(s).

The first step was taking the high level objectives and ideas about detailed objectives and taking them down into concrete metrics that I could use in my search for a device.

I started with High Level objectives that had driven our design concept in general:


  1. Design a solution that will positively impact as many patients as possible.
  2. Design a versatile and accessible solution.
  3. Design for personalized/individualized care


As per Stage 1 in my DRP, I took these and reworked them to make sense for the selection of a physical digital device, but still maintained their “essence.” The result was the following:


Objectives of device

  1. Design a solution that will positively impact as many patients as possible.
  2. Design a versatile and accessible solution.
  3. Have a device that allows/facilitates individualized care to take place on it.


Next I took a step towards getting more concrete. At this point, the only requirements my team had already developed beyond these high level objectives were a collection of detailed objectives and thoughts on how those might be measured.

Here is one of these which I will show as a sample. For the rest of my process I will follow this sample through as a model of how I developed all the detailed objectives:


Detailed objectives → More concrete functions

C. Personalization of Stimulation → ability to distinguish individuals, staff time and energy


I took the ‘more concrete functions’ on the right that we as a team had previously created and ‘abstracted down,’ working towards getting concrete measurable metrics. This is now Stage 2 of my DRP, as I had to go conduct research and take preliminary looks at devices, or imagine tablets that I have used in the past and consider these devices used in a care home for dementia patients (as was per design project). I used knowledge that my team had gathered, and my own experience and imagination to conceptualize elderly people using technology, and how staff would have to help them.

I’d like to make a note on this way of thinking: in the phraseology of my design course, it was an exercise in balancing ‘system 1’ and ‘system 2.’ System 1 is a way of describing our gut feeling or emotional way of thinking, and system 2 is a label assigned to a more rigorous scientific way of thinking. I put these in balance by using my intuition and ‘feelings’ about what I thought about tablets and the elderly interacting with them. I also used the knowledge from all the research myself and my team had conducted at this point, including speaking with a researcher in the subject. This made it easy to come up with the need to track battery life and to be aware of the complexity of setting up the device. My analysis of ‘biometric sensors’ was much more system 2, simply pulling knowledge I had previously on the subject

The result of all this was the following:


Functions list that leads to…:
→ More concrete measures (metrics)

6. Staff time required per unit time of patient engagement

  1. Battery needs to charged by a staffer, ie plug/unplug?
    1. If staff takes 10min every 10 hours to plug in for charging.
      1. Longer battery life prefered
  2. Time to set up/make it ready for patients
    1. Complexity of set up
      1. Number of tasks that need to be done (by staff) to make it ready for patient use,
      2. Number tasks to put it away (ie, unplug, fold down, wheel away, return to case)

7. Ability to distinguish between individuals

  1. Biometrics sensors are one method
    1. Facial recognition
      1. Presence of a sufficent rez front facing camera
    2. Fingerprint reader
      1. Large, reliable enough for people with old age.
    3. Voice recognition ⇒ microphone presence!
      1. More detail than the existence of a microphone is too detailed


By now, I had taken the important objectives down to something very concrete, and I was ready to assemble metrics to measure these categories. This resembles stage 3 of my DRP, as I accept the changes I have been making and ready them for use.


Metrics List (DO => metric)

-Presence is a yes/no response

  • 6=>Battery life in hours (more is prefered)
  • 6=>Number of foreseeable steps to set up/ pack up device for a patient, which will be done on near daily basis (fewer = better)
  • 6=> number of plugs that need to be connected, i.e complexity of set up (less is better)
  • 7=>Presence of a microphone
  • 7=>Presence of a front facing camera
  • 7=> Presence fingerprint reader


I then reorganized these by category to ease the kind of data I would be looking for in my search of devices:


Metrics by category

  1. Sensors
    1. (These are other metrics not part of the sample I am following)
    2. 1=> presence of a gyroscope
    3. 7=>Presence of a microphone
    4. 7=>Presence of a front facing camera
    5. 7=> Presence fingerprint reader
  2. Physical components/accessories
    1. 6=>Number of foreseeable steps to set up/ pack up device for a patient, which will be done on near daily basis (fewer = better)
    2. 6=> number of plugs that need to be connected, i.e complexity of set up (less is better)


With this final representation in place, I had essentially completed Stage 4 of my DRP and was ready to proceed with selecting my device using my design process proper. This selection most takes place inside the ‘iterative design phase,’ and does not involve any team discussion or hard thought deliberation because I chosen to leave it as a simple, individual task. This type of selection design changes the meaning of the “pursue concept” bubble to really be “add concept to final list of designs” by the nature of this selection-style design.

To be able to easily compare the devices I uncovered in my search, I created a Data table (similar to a pugh chart) to track all the data for each metric I had for each design I was going to be looking into:


This is partial image of the table of metrics I created.


Note: row 6 has been blacked out:

This is because the metric in this row became obsolete as I realized every design I was considering had it, and it was therefore not helpful to have it there for comparison. It wasn’t deleted from my metrics list though, because it wasn’t completely obsolete, but it was not helpful to check in my search.

Note the ‘Midrange’ device and the far right column are missing values for many metrics:

After I filled in my first 2 designs that I had already decided to look at, which were the iPad Air 2 and the Senior tablet, I realized I was more looking for something that fit well into the chart without actually entering its values into the table and using the table to make comparisons.

Indeed, I found it was a lot faster to make some key decisions in my head about what would fit best with these metrics rather than forcing myself to fill out many fields in the table.

It allowed me to move a lot faster as I had to sift through large numbers of potential designs. There are lots of modern tablet devices out there. To ease my workload, I leveraged sites like Wire Cutter that offered to do comparisons of tablets for me. I would explore their different recommendations. I found it particularly helpful to use sites that claimed to be able to recommend the best tablet for seniors.

One final thing of note that occurred during this process is the following:

I made the upfront assumption that I would be picking just one case for each device I settled on. I planned on finding a case for my devices that optimized the ability for people with dementia to use it. This turned out to be an incredible challenge and threatened to take up a lot of my time. There were 3 problems:

  1. I struggled to find any official source that could tell me what size and shape of tablet case would be best for an elderly person.
  2. There were many many cases, and choosing the best one would require a whole other comparison table and breakdown.
  3. I was running out of time before delivery.

I decided to use my intuition ( engaging ‘system 1’), discussed with my team briefly and save some time.

I looked for 2 cases for every device, one that was made of toughness and one that would be easy to handle and hold. With no resource I could find in the short time frame, I looked at cases made for young children that were made of thick foam and featured a large handle. This was immediate to me as to what would help the most elderly people.

Since it was acceptable by my team, I saved time by adding the needed detail that the designs I had selected were only recommendations, and not concrete must-buys. Saving me the need to scientifically justify why I had chosen the one particular case over any others.

This was an extremely helpful thing to be able to recognize when I took a step back from my process and understood this small chunk of work in the context of the larger whole of the project. It demonstrates my ability to keep the bigger picture in mind when doing more detailed and specific work.

In conclusion, this task pushed me to proceed intelligently at all the steps in order to keep all results valid without exceeding the time and other limitations I had. Doing this process also allowed me to create a the well represented DRP that I have, and understand it’s place in design very well.


All the documents I have been referring to can be found at public links here, including the final data sheet version:



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