RISD x Microsoft : meTour
A RISD Studio Partnership with Microsoft
Structured by the World Health Organization's radically revised definition of 'disability' as a mismatch between human interactions, Microsoft embodies this Inclusive Design model for empathetic design to facilitate better human relationships. This approach to human diversity as the foundation for better design directed our five-week studio at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Navigating information in the physical space.
meTour is a customizable travel app that delivers the right information to bring you to the right place at the right time. It is a portable platform that focuses on providing our users with a system to navigate unexpected places during unexpected times. It offers a flexible mapping tool that reroutes based on the moment, and reliable information from people you know and trust.
What we believe in
Maximize the experience through customization:
This product is designed to organize a user's time and guide their experience efficiently. With tags, 'meTour' determines which places appear and are recommended on the map to reduce a user's sorting time. The ideal path is generated based on the user's location in relation to each destination's location.
Encourage engagement whenever and wherever:
The route can be adjusted as the user explores and experiences every destination they chose. Notifications remind users to move on to their other destinations, while providing them with options to leave, stay, or delay their visit. 'meTour' is designed to be flexible and to behave as a guide for the experience.
Certainty and Trust—
Provide relevant information from reliable sources:
From our research ranging from personal anecdotes to Google, we noticed a recurring natural tendency to gravitate towards reviews posted by people most similar to us. There is a strong sense of reliability when originating from a relatable source, like a good friend. Using social media, 'meTour' filters reviews through varying degrees of connection one user has with another.
One component of our research investigated products currently tackling some similar issues. Products include Google Maps, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Expedia, Hipmunk, Kayak, Foursquare/Swarm, Walk Your City. Even still, we are interested in filling the gaps that are not addressed in these products. Our team sought to create a product that helps organize and plan during the moment of travel, and adjusts itself accordingly.
In Conversation : Interview Insights
Throughout this five-week process, we had the opportunity to discuss the issues of design and our idea with people from different disciplines. Insights from those conversations resonated deeply within us and our product.
Alex and Jeannette : Children of Deaf Adults at Brown University
”There are a lot of technology-based solutions for people with disabilities. To really use technology effectively, you have to look at the fundamental human-to-human connection that it’s facilitating.”
Brittany : Office of Disability Support Services at RISD
”The most common type of disabilities I see are mental disabilities, such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety. For someone with depression, or even anxiety, the main struggle during travel is not knowing what to expect, fear of the unknown, or suddenly being in a situation that wasn’t expected.”
Margaret : Principal Design Strategist at Microsoft
”With travel, encouraging people to be more present in the moment can go a long way towards improving the experience.”
Who we are designing for
By thinking of diversity differently and using it as a design tool, we sought to embrace the variation in our potential user group. We used Microsoft's 'persona spectrum' to help us analyze the different levels of disability. This structure helps measure it by categorizing one in three levels - permanent, temporary, and situational. For example, hearing impairment can be described in the respective levels as someone who is deaf, has an ear infection, and is at a loud bar. Through the creation of four personas - Paul, Maxine, Alexis, and Andrew - the spectrum method helped us gain a better understanding of designing for a more diverse and vibrant audience.