The target users we selected are young, international travelers who travel frequently amongst time zones. These users ideally seek help in preparing for a change in time zone. They want to avoid any jet lag and have an easy transition into their new time zone, which may be very different than their original time zone. I have selected three users who fit this description. User 1 is a 21-year-old male who is currently working in Redwood City, California. He graduated from the University of California, Davis this past spring with a degree in Electrical Engineering. During his time in college, he studied abroad in Japan. He plays tennis and enjoys dancing. He also enjoys exploring new cities like San Francisco. User 2 is a 22-year-old female who is currently working in Lisbon, Portugal at a startup incubator. She is originally from Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee with a degree in International Business. She is a frequent traveler who has already studied abroad for extended periods of time in Europe twice prior to this trip to Portugal. She enjoys graphic design, and of course, traveling. She speaks English, Portuguese, and Spanish. User 3 is a 23-year-old male who is currently backpacking throughout Europe and Africa. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Spanish and Portuguese. He is originally from Mexico and moved to the United States just prior to starting university. He loves learning languages. He can speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, all fluently. He is very adventurous and spontaneous and has a passion for learning about other cultures.
Problem and Solution Overview
A familiar problem for people who have traveled across time zones is dealing with the effects of jet lag. If not accounted for, jet lag, in addition to making people feel sleepy, will render them unalert, unfocused, and stressed, which in turn may lead to poor decision making. Many people are unfamiliar with jet lag alleviating techniques and try to combat the effects of jet lag by trying to sleep a bit more on the plane or ingesting more caffeine, but not only do these "solutions" avoid solving the underlying problem regarding their body's circadian rhythm, they may also make their jet lag worse.
Our solution attempts to alleviate jet lag by guiding users through scientifically verified strategies of combating jet lag. Users should prepare to use the app several days in advance, adjusting the user's sleep cycle day by day to match their desired sleep schedule at their destination. The handheld application will help users strategize and plan out this shift, while the watch application will help users monitory their adherence to their strategy.
The interview with User 1 was in person over lunch, while the interviews with User 2 and User 3 were over Skype since they are both currently abroad. Since our application is targeted for those actively traveling through time zones, I thought it would be best to simply interview the users about their experience with this. I asked about how they dealt with and how they imagined this would improve with the help of our application. Using this application does not depend on day-to-day tasks, so it eliminated the need to observe them during their work and unfortunately, none of them were actually switching time zones this week.
A common aspect with all three users is that they have had experience with international travel, and thus, switching between time zones. All admit to having trouble adjusting naturally (i.e. without any planning, sleep medication, etc.). It is important to note that none of them actually plan out their adjustment prior to the trip. Thus, the first few days of their time abroad is usually filled with jet lag.
One unique thing was that User 1 had a much different experience than User 2 and User 3. User 1's destination, Japan, is west of the United States in contrast to User 2 and User 3's destination which was east of the United States. In general, they agreed that it is much easier to adjust if you are traveling west. For User 1, this meant when he first got to his destination. For User 2 and User 3, this meant when they arrive back home at the end of their trip. In addition, User 1's hours of adjustment were much larger than those of User 2 and User 3. User 1 had to adjust to a 16 hour time zone difference in comparison to that of User 2 and User 3 who had to adjust to an 8 hour time zone difference; a gap that is still significant but twice as less as User 1. Thus, I thought that this large gap and the traveling west at the start of the trip was interesting. Overall, the users were in a general consensus that a sleep lag application would be helpful in planning out the adjustment.
1. Who is going to use system?
The people who will use our system will be travelers from the U.S. who often travel across to different time zones and have difficulties in dealing with jet lag and/or adjusting to the local time zone. Since we plan to target users who are still relatively new and inexperienced in traveling across different time zones, we anticiapte the age range for our target users to be from early 20's to early 30's. Ideally, anyone who suffers from jet lag and desires to combat it will be free to use the system. This app requires no formal knowledge of any kind, so specific background skills are not expected of our users.
2. What tasks do they now perform?
Travelers nowadays, especially if they are new to traveling across different time zones, do not know much about jet lag prevention, so they will simply travel without taking any precautions and deal with the full effects of jet lag upon arrival, viewing it as a necessary obstacle that must be overcome when traveling. Those who are a bit more experienced and want to combat jet lag will search the web and educate themselves on strategies to prevent jet lag, but there is no guarantee that they will manage to follow through with the strategies due to the lack of a reliable reminder system. For veteran travelers, it is most often the case that jet lag no longer affects them due to their extensive traveling experience, or that they have figured out their own routine to combat jet lag through extended trial and error.
3. What tasks are desired?
Our group believes that the tasks desired involves a service that congregates all information regarding jet lag prevention into one place and delivers it to the users in a manner that is easy to understand. Adhering to jet lag prevention strategies is difficult since it requires users to behave in a manner that is unfamiliar to them, so a sort of reminder or notification service is also strongly desired to help users stay on track.
4. How are the tasks learned?
Some tasks should be intuitive, while others can be learned through a simple tutorial. Most of the data entry (user's sleep habits, traveling information) should be straightforward, but guidance may be needed in interpreting visual information and data (such as the sleep schedule, and what the graphs mean). While additional jet lag prevention strategies such as controlling light exposure or melatonin intake are tasks that users can learn from with a short description, more detailed information may need to be provided to help them understand how these strategies work. Users do not need any specialized knowledge, but they should be adapt in interpreting visual information and understand basic cause-and-effect relationships to grasp how the information presented will help prevent jet lag.
5. Where are the tasks performed?
For the most part, users can perform these tasks whenever he or she is comfortable. Tasks such as entering sleep and travel information to initialize the app can be done anywhere, and it is expected for users to check their sleep schedules throughout the day in different locations. The users are also subject to receive notifications about their sleep schedule regardless of their location. As for actually following the sleep strategies, it should be obvious that to control light exposure that users will need to be out in the sun or hidden away in the shade, and when following the sleep schedule the user can be anywhere when awake, although it assumed they will return to their own bed when it is time to sleep.
6. What’s the relationship between user & data?
The data involved in this app is personal data regarding the user's travel arrangements and sleep habits. For privacy reasons, personal data will be restricted to just the users themselves. Information is localized to the smartphone, so if the user wants to move between different devices, they will have to reinitialize the app with the same parameters on each smartphone that they use, although the user data entry should be a quick process. Switching smartwatches is not a concern since all the user's data is stored on the mobile device, so they are free to use whatever smartwatch they want as long as they can sync it to their mobile device.
7. What other tools does the user have?
Besides the smartphone and smartwatch we are using for the application, the only other resource users have to educate themselves about jet lag prevention is the Internet via mobile device or computer. The purpose of this mobile and wear design is to provide a convenient and efficient way to minimize the effects of jet lag, so there is no need to use other tools to facilitate interaction, since the smartphone and smartwatch are more than capable for this task.
8. How do users communicate with each other?
Since sleep schedules are rather personalized to each person's sleep habits, their current and local destination, and their expected departure and arrival date and time, there is no need for users to communicate or share information with each other.
9. How often are the tasks performed?
Entering information regarding sleep habits is done only once when the user opens the app for the first time, while entering travel information will be done every time the user plans to take a trip. The users are expected to check his or her sleep schedule several times throughout the day, and check the notifications and alarms as they appear to remind the user to stay on track. In terms of tasks regarding the actual following of the prescribed sleep strategies (actual sleep/wake, light exposure control, melatonin intake), the frequency will vary depending on the user's own unique sleep habits, their current and destination location, and how much time they have left until departure.
10. What are the time constraints on the tasks?
The time constraints is essentially how much time the user has left until he or she arrives at his or her intended destination. If the user knows that he or she will be traveling far ahead of time, he or she can choose to start adjusting to the destination's local time zone very early on, giving his or her body plenty of time to gradually adapt and combat the effects of jet lag more effectively. On the other hand, if the user only has one or two days to adjust, the change in sleep schedule will have to be more dramatic, which reduces the effectiveness of the jet lag prevention strategies.
11. What happens when things go wrong?
If the user fails to follow his or her sleep schedule, he or she will not properly be adjusted to the destination's time zone upon arrival, and a result, suffer from the effects as jet lag, including but not limited to grogginess, stress, lack of alertness, sleepiness, and poor decision making. As a result, the user may have to spend the first few days of his or her trip adjusting to the local time zone, which is a waste of valuable trip time. Another thing that can happen is that the prescribed sleep schedule and sleep strategies was not effective in preventing jet lag for the user. This is unfortunate, since the app, without knowing about an individual's particular tolerances and response to certain strategies, can only initially prescribe the most generalized strategy that works on the most amount of people, but there are people who are outliers who do not respond in the typical way. This is where the evaluation stage of the app becomes useful, because with that, the user can provide feedback to the app, which takes the feedback to make adjustments to the sleep strategies it prescribes to the user in future trips.
Checking Sleep Schedule Details (Easy)
Users can check out the details of the strategy that we provide them. The most important piece of information is when they should sleep each night. Other details to check includes their set target sleep time, the daylight cycle of their destination timezone, the current time in their origin and destination timezone, and their selected strategies.
Such information can be duplicated onto a custom watch face.
Without an app, keeping track of when you went to sleep can be difficult, requiring rigorous data tracking. Our app puts this information on a screen to be easily consumed.
View history of uses (Easy)
Users should be able to access their sleep strategy logs from all of their trips.
Currently, people may have a hard time remembering how well certain strategies worked for them. Our app keeps track of this easily, in a simple interface.
Entering Travel Information (Moderate)
To understand the parameters of a user's trip and potential jet lag, our application will first ask users about the details of their trip. We need to understand the following variables:
- Origin Timezone
- Destination Timezone
- Day of travel
- Current Sleep Schedule
- Target Sleep Schedule
User will need to input this information for our app to perform the calculations necessary to plan out their sleep strategy. Users will go through multiple screens that present this information in an appealing way.
User may Google different time zones find differences. This can be mentally taxing. In this app, the user only needs to enter in their location and destination. This task is of moderate difficulty because users may need to look up flight data. It requires active engagement, compared to passive consumption.
Evaluating Strategies (Moderate)
After a sleep strategy has been implemented, users can record notes and rate the strategy on its effectiveness.
Currently, people would need to record this on their own with their own system, making it moderately difficult. Our app would simply this by having a central location for this kind of information.
Users should be able to access their sleep strategy logs from all of their trips.
Currently, people may have a hard time remembering how well certain strategies worked for them. Our app keeps track of this easily, in a simple interface.
Understanding and selecting strategies (Hard)
Our app will one central strategy for helping users reset their sleep cycles, with two strategies that are optional but recommended. All users will be guided through a step-wise sleep adjustment process, where our app plans out and advises users to sleep later or earlier each day to adjust to their Target Sleep Schedule in their Destination Timezone. Users can now monitor their light exposure and be advised to change their light exposure to better match their destination timezone. Users can also be informed of the optimal time to take melatonin.
Currently, users need to search for many different jet lag alleviation strategies. Our app presents three strategies very simply, and in clear nomenclature. However, interpretation by the user may be difficult, so we consider this task hard.
Implementing Sleep Strategy (Hard)
It will be the user's task to implement the sleep strategy that we provide. The watch will try to assist with this by providing gentle reminders of our suggested sleep, light, and melatonin schedules.
This is a very difficult task with or without this application. The app intends to make remembering to take these steps easier, but the actual task itself will still be difficult.
Sentry App helps users begin preparation for an adjusted sleep cycle in three easy steps. First, the user opens the smartphone app and provides his upcoming travel information, such as a date of departure, a place of departure, a place of arrival, and a flight number. Second, the user provides his sleep schedule in his current location and his desired sleep schedule when at his target destination. Third, the user views a list of jet lag prevention strategies from which he chooses exactly one. The user has then successfully begun a sleep plan structured to adjust his sleep cycle in accordance to the time zone of his target destination. The user may use either his smartphone or his smartwatch to view a visual depiction of the sleep plan for which he will use to plan when to sleep, when to wake up, when to change his exposure to light, when to take melatonin, or when to do whatever instruction the app provides to keep him on his sleep plan. The user does not actively have to remember these scheduled activities though because the smartwatch app will send notifications reminding the user to do these sleep plan specfic actions. After completing a sleep plan and evaluating its jet lag prevention effectiveness, the user can write and store a review of the sleep strategy in the app. The user may build a history of reviews for various sleep strategies and determine which strategies were most effective for him.
Sentry App focuses on being a discreet application. The initial setup of a sleep strategy involves basic data entry such as city names, times of flights, and sleep schedules. After these initial entries, the app runs in the background and occasionally sends notifications to the user's watch to remind him to do specific actions in accordance with his sleep strategy. The app mainly provides a set of reminders to guide the user in adjusting his sleep cycle to his destination time zone.
Scenario 1: Entering Travel Information and Sleep Schedules (Moderate Task)
Suppose a user is traveling from San Francisco to Shanghai. The user opens the Sleep Sentry app to enter his travel information. The user is then prompted to choose one of two input methods: (1) inputting a current and destination city, or (2) inputting a flight number and travel date. The current and destination city entry is a convenient way for the user to quickly provide the app with current and destination time zones. The user uses text boxes to type in the city names. The flight number and travel date entry may give the user the inconvenience of looking up flight information, but it is beneficial to the user because it provides the app a current and destination city, but also the user's time of departure and arrival. This additional information may be integrated in the sleep strategy for the user. Once the travel information is inputted, the user enters his sleep schedule in his current location, including the time he wakes up and goes to sleep. Then the user inputs the sleep schedule he wants at his destination location. Once again, this is additional information needed by the app to produce an effective sleep strategy. It is important to streamline this gathering of information as much as possible.
Scenario 2: Understanding and selecting strategies (Difficult Task)
Suppose a user has finished entering his travel information and is prompted to select a sleep strategy. The user struggles selecting a strategy because he is unfamiliar with his choice of strategies. Luckily, each strategy choice is accompanied with a short description. If the user wants to learn more about a strategy, he can click on its short description, and a full description of the strategy will show up. After reading the description, the user may revert back to the list of strategies and either select a strategy, or further research other strategies. The central rationale behind giving users the choice of the optional strategies is that some users may be incapable of executing certain strategies. The variety of strategies ensures the existence at least one compatible strategy for every user.
Scenario 3: Checking Sleep Schedule Details (Easy Task)
After a user has completed the two previous tasks, he will be presented with his recommended sleep strategy. The sleep strategy will be expressed in a sequence of graphs. One graph will exist for every day between the current day to the day of departure. The user may swipe left or right to see his sleep schedule for different days. The graph shown has a sine curve which represents the daylight cycle of the user's destination time zone. The white and shaded areas of the graph indicate daytime and nighttime, respectively. The horizontal axis indicates time, and the Current and Destination time zones are displayed on the top and bottom of the graph, respectively. The striped portion of the graph indicates the portion of the day the app suggests the user be asleep. The user has successfully altered his sleep pattern to the destination time zone when the entire striped area lies in the part of the sine curve that is concave up. At the bottom of the screen, there is a checklist of what the user needs to do to follow his sleep strategy. Users can reference this section whenever they are curious about their sleep schedule. This page is to provide a centralized location for all the details of the sleep strategy. The graph is meant to help the user understand the sleep plan with a visual representation of what the sleep plan is trying to accomplish daily. The checklist mimics the many to-do apps that have been so successful in the app store.
The above are sketches of the different notifications the user will receive on his smartwatch. These notifications remind the user when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when to do any additional actions to keep him on track with his sleep strategy. Each notification invokes a vibration, which is especially important when waking up a user who unintentionally fell asleep.
The above is a user evaluation form sent to invoke feedback on the effectiveness of a particular sleep strategy. The app stores the user reviews for the user's to peruse in the future.
The above is a log of sleep strategy reviews. A user may select a review to see the old comments he gave to a tested sleep strategy.
1. Jet Lag Rooster
This app seems to simply target anyone who is suffering from jet lag, which is similar to our target user group except that we are targeting a more specific group (young travelers who are inexperienced in traveling across different time zones) in order to better design an interface that is geared towards helping them understand how jet lag prevention works in addition to helping them combat the effects of jet lag. The app allows users to generate a projected sleep schedule based on their sleep habits, their current and destination location, and the date and time of their departure and arrival, and includes a function that automatically sets alarms for when the user needs to wake up. The app is successful in displaying an easy to understand sleep schedule to the user, but we are planning to do much more with our app, including the integration of different sleep strategies such as light control and melatonin intake, display how the user's current sleep schedule matches up to his or her intended destination's sleep schedule using a dynamic graph, and enable reminders through notifications via smartphone and smartwatch to help users adhere to their schedule.
2. Jet Lag Begone
The target group is essentially the same as Jet Lag Rooster, with the differences between our target user group being the same as well. In addition to the functionality in Jet Lag Rooster, this app also integrates light exposure and melatonin intake into the sleep schedule that is recommended to the user, but does not have an auto-alarm feature. The challenges with this app is that it integrates the same strategies used to combat jet lag that we are planning on using, but our app will be more flexible by allowing users to enable or disable the use of these additional strategies as they choose, in addition to improved functionality that was described in the previous example.
Once again, the target user group is the same as the two apps mentioned previously, with the differences between our target group being the same as well. The functionality of this app differs in that it associates the presence or lack of light exposure to being awake or sleeping, and does not make the distinction in the sleep schedule that it generates. Yet, the strong point of this app is that it produces a visualization of how the user's current sleep schedule matches up to his or her intended sleep schedule, and enables the user to provide additional details such as age, sex, and frequency of travel to better tailor the recommended sleep schedule to be as effective as possible; despite having features that our app also plans on having, the lack of different sleep strategies is a clear disadvantage in terms of functionality, and the lack of notifications or alarms is a huge blow to its effectiveness.
I was able to download all three apps on my phone and play around with them, and it seems that each of the three apps covers different features that we are planning to integrate into our application. The first app has the auto-alarm function that we want to integrate as part of our notification and reminder service, while the second app includes sleep strategies such as controlling light exposure and melatonin intake that we are planning on including, and the third app provides excellent visualization of how the user's current sleep cycle matches up with his or her intended sleep cycle and enables the user to give certain types of feedback - features that we are planning to include as well. Yet, not one of these apps has yet to integrate all these features, which makes our project unique in that it will bring all the previously mentioned features to one centralized application. Plus, none of these apps are integrated with smartwatches or have a reliable notification system to keep the user on track with the sleep strategies they are following, so these two additional features, on top of congregating the existing features into one app, will most definitely provide our app unique value.
Team Members: Ianto Xi, Tatiana Ferreyra, David Ju, Josef Nunez
Ianto and Josef both wrote the problem solution overview and task definition. Ianto created the sketches for the proposed interface while Josef wrote the explanations for the proposed interface. Tatiana interviewed our target users and completed the target users and contextual inquiry write-up. David completed the task analysis and competitive analysis, and is responsible for uploading this assignment to Hackster.