Workshop: Google X
Role: Participant
Team: Dolinde van Beek, Will Neeteson

Ask acquaintances or strangers for help in a non-obtrusive way using your voice

I took part in a 2 day workshop from Google X, working on one of their research projects, learning more about Google Design Sprint and their MACHINE method in the process. Google’s smart speakers tend to be bought and used less by older adults, can we think of a service to improve their lives with a smart speaker?

We started by writing down our assumptions about older adults and their usage of technology. Then we interviewed 2 older adults and found out that many of those assumptions were wrong sometimes, discovering many new insights about our users in the process. We gathered all the insights from the interviews and narrowed them to pain points. Those pain points were divided into 3 categories: Health, Safety and Social connectedness.

To verify the weight of those pain points we interviewed 6 more older adults, and asked them to rate each pain point on a scale from one to ten. One meant that they didn’t experience that particular pain point at all, and ten meant that it was a big problem in their lives. We looked for similar high graded pain points among the older adults we interviewed, this resulted in the following key insights:

Older adults don’t tend to tell the truth in answering questions about challenges they face at their age.

Seniors tend to feel like they’re burdening people/family members when asking for help.

We held 3 crazy 8 sessions based on different angles (technology, service and social), with our most addressed pain points in mind. Each group member then made an improvement for each others’ crazy 8 ideas.

A concept was chosen to prototype and we designed Google Reach, a platform where older adults can ask help through their Google smart speaker, using a voice controlled on-boarding system. Depending on the preferences of the users, help can be asked to acquaintances, strangers or both. The user can review the person that is offering to help out, and is always in control of accepting help or not. An accompanying app can be installed by individuals that want to volunteer to help, and acquaintances always get a message if a person they know is asking for help.

Imagine you could ask acquaintances or strangers for help in a non-obtrusive way using your voice.

Verified Assisters can view and choose people to help.

Accept tasks and go for it!

We made a ‘Wizard of Oz’ prototype using a Google smart speaker and presented it to Google. After our presentation Google rated the different prototypes and my team won, winning each team member a Google Home smart speaker and a Google Nest Hub.