Our task was to design a concept of a rock breaker remote-controller for its operator and was related to mining industry. The work was focused on designing a multimodal interface that will support the rock breaker operators and simplify their job with automation.
Solution consists of remote joysticks that are controlling the machine. For improved productivity the same joysticks are used to navigate the interface presented on the screens. Results improve also communication between stakeholders and transfers perception of a machine into an office.
How can we improve the process by facilitating collaboration between stakeholders and enhancing the rock-breaking perception?
Take a look at proposed solution for this question
Using joysticks that are not fixed into a specific position gives user a possibility to work in various positions. Research showed that standing at work can relax the body that is tired from permanent sitting what have significant influence on productivity. Joysticks are controlled by the thumbs (the same as in game pads) which remove tension from big muscles.
System provides augmented reality to support vision. The blue beam on a screen improves perception of a depth and distance between rocks and the chisel. Users have possibility to change controlling from manual into the one in x and y coordinates. Thanks to that user?s experience and knowledge is still in use but repetitive tasks like movements are done by the machine.
Communication with mine is simplified thanks to one channel of communication. Operators can press a button on their headset to call their coworkers. Usage of beacons inside the mine gives automated feedback on who is around the rock breaker. System presents history of calls but what is most important it shows coworkers relevant to performed task at the top of the list.
The main point for collaboration inside office is what we call Collaboration Mode, where one operator, for instance Johan, when asked for help by Lars can go to his screen and control the machine with his own joysticks, showing how to do a specific action and giving advices. Thanks to that the collaborative atmosphere from the mines is transferred into the office. Remote joysticks make whole process easy and fast.
My responsibility was to create interactive prototypes. Using Wii Remote as the controller helped with creating logics dedicated for joysticks.
The main focus of this prototype was to show navigation in a main menu and present a scenario on communication with maintenance team inside a mine. While doing this prototype we discovered different challenges that probably we would have never noticed if we tested scenario only on static wireframes.
Those prototypes were created with:
This prototype includes logics of operating the machine and breaking rock. Our goal with this prototype was to better explain our idea to the users and to clarify if our solution has a possibility of usage in real life. Faking 3D with 2D graphics helped to speed up the coding part and thanks to that our testers were more honest because it doesn?t give a feeling of a finished product.
This prototype was created with:
After pre research phase we went on a trip to Aitik Mine, Sweden. The trip helped us to understand operator?s responsibilities and needs.
Operators work for 7 or 8 hours per day. During their shift they perform repetitive actions in the same position. There is a need to provide a solution that will relieve their muscles and give them a chance for even a short break and stand up. Implementing automatic solutions into their work can bring great results into this area.
The main challenge in remote controlling is the lack of real feedback. In this case, operators will have decreased level of rock sense, perception of real world but also decreased feeling of responsibility and engagement. Lack of real world feedback will increase the fear of making mistakes which will influence stress level.
The communication plays crucial role in the mining industry. Sadly, operators need to deal with many channels of communication accordingly to whom they need to talk to. The research helped to discover that operators have strong collaboration bond and that it is important to transfer it into the office.
Ideation part started with creating paper prototypes and to use them in scenarios. It helped us to better understand operator’s tasks and logic of our solution. To speed up process we used transparent foil to fake augmented reality. Next step was to create and test interactive prototypes and to mold and refine the joysticks.
After having clear idea of a solution we started to work individually. I started my graphic part with getting back again and again to paper to find the best way to make our concept visual. Paper helped to test prototype at early stage and to save time thanks to detecting obvious mistakes at early stage.
I researched solutions from professional interfaces and were inspired by futuristic UI. Next, I started to transfer the paper concept into digital graphics. Main challenge was to choose colors and typography that would give not only professional and futuristic look but mostly would make data easy to grasp for the user.
I choose QC because it helps to create interactive prototypes with animations. Thanks to Origami, exchanging data between QC and Sketch made whole process smooth and quick. Working prototype gave opportunity to test the solution and was shown on the final presentation with a feeling of the finished product.