Solace: Invigorating Factory Culture at Boeing

Skills I used: contextual inquiry, affinity diagramming, visioning, storyboarding, speed dating, experience prototyping, wizard of oz, think-aloud protocol, experience design, concept mapping, film writing and direction

Collaborators: Jason Block, Jonas Gebhardt, Arthur Hong, John Rogers

Team website: Available here

Product Summary
Solace prototype

The workday of a factory employee is strict and regimented. Controlled processes and procedures are pivotal in producing quality airplanes at a large scale. Consequently, the worker often feels small and disconnected. The factory functions as a machine, but the workers are not gears and pinions; they are surgeons and artisans, and most importantly—people.

For them, we have designed Solace: a private, expressive space where people create immersive rooms through touch, motion, and speech interactions. It complements the rigidity of the factory environment by promoting a sense of play and exploration. Solace is the first step in transforming the culture of the factory into a more open and collaborative space—one that fully embraces personal expression, and where workers feel empowered to make an impact on their daily work environment.

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Project Role and Mission
I was the Research and UX Design Lead of a 5-person team of Human-Computer Interaction Master’s students working on an 8-month long project with Boeing to improve communication at their factory in Everett, Washington.

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The team from left to right: Jason Block, Jonas Gebhardt, Arthur Hong, Rebecca Jablonsky, and John Rogers.

 

Process
Contextual Research
We made two main research trips to Everett Factory. The first trip was primarily used to tour the factory, understand stakeholders, and build relationships. The second trip consisted of contextual shadowing and guerrilla interviewing of 25 workers in 12 different roles.

Interpretation, Synthesis, and Visioning
The group collectively interpreted all research together, and created flow and cultural models as well as affinity diagrams. Data (and some creative imagination!) directly informed our visions for our client.

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Designing an Immersive Environment
We refined our design direction over the summer, and decided to create an immersive environment that could support self-expression, creativity, and employee appreciation within a highly mechanical and regulated factory environment. This solution positively influences Boeing’s culture by improving morale, communication, and productivity. We arrived at this design solution through three stages of iterative testing, which included concept validation, experience prototyping, and wizard of oz prototyping.

We prototyped an immersive environment by using a large, dark tent. "Wizards" controlled the experience outside of the tent.
We prototyped an immersive environment by using a large, dark tent. “Wizards” controlled the experience outside of the tent.
The menu illustrated possible modes of interaction for our users.
The menu illustrated possible modes of interaction for our users.
We designed several pre-made rooms. One was the "speak your mind" room, where kinetic text illustrates the words of participants with their emotions.
We designed several pre-made rooms. One was the “speak your mind” room, where kinetic text illustrates the words of participants with their emotions.

Video

Note
Due to the proprietary nature of this project, I cannot share more information than what is shown here.

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