Treehouse is a government funded, IoT cloud-based system that can be installed in any library space across America, seamlessly integrating books with tech and re-imagining the modern day library as a major catalyst for creativity, community, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.
Silver in Website Design 2019, Non-Pro
Silver in UX, Interface & Navigation 2019, Non-Pro
09.06.18 - 11.15.18
Byeong Cheol Hwang
User Experience Design
We were given ten weeks to use the content learned in Human Factors and apply it in a UX-based project focused on the Internet of Things. We had full freedom to direct the project in any way imaginable, but the modern tech involved was required to send data to another device without human control.
There’s a lack of opportunity in Rural America has pushed young people to seek careers elsewhere. This often leaves small towns underserved and stagnant, resulting in isolated townspeople, and depreciating infrastructure.
Redefine a library space to create a more engaging all-access community experience that allows for in-depth communication and education for all.
The Internet of Things
Treehouse - Vision Video
Shifting our Focus, and designing with inclusivity in mind.
We felt the need to reduce the tendencies of the "success to the successful" systems trap.
Designing for Rural America
97% of America’s land area belongs to rural counties.
(And about 60 million people currently reside there!)
Our initial challenge / assumption
How do we create a tech-based solution if people
don’t have any devices?
After selecting rural America, our team sent out an online survey to get a better sense of what is lacking in small towns through local's perspectives.
There is a need for innovative community spaces and mentorship in Rural America. This is what inspired us to look towards Libraries as an opportunity space.
What is something lacking within your community? (120 Responses)
“Shopping, restaurants, and jobs.”
“Stuff for kids to do, there aren’t playgrounds or activities for kids.”
“Classes such as pottery, yoga, self defense classes.”
“Art and cultural experiences.”
“Mental health (specializing in childhood and adolescent care and wellness)”
“Clubs / activities that promote well being and thinking outside of the box.”
Affinitizing our Data Points
From the wide range of responses, we were able to find a few insights:
Many people that chose not to go to college started a family as their next step. A majority saw a lack of community resources, especially for family education and activities.
Why the Library?
119,487 Libraries in the USA
Accessibility for all
Reaches 96.4% of the Population
(Plus, the community space is already provided, and government funded!)
Who goes to the Library? The Personas:
(Click to Enlarge)
Insight: Locals want to lead the innovation and curation of any new addition to their community.
Ideation, Architecture and Iterations
When mapping out the user flows of Treehouse, we first asked the question, “What can I help you find today?”, a question commonly asked by Librarians for decades.
We wanted to accommodate different learning styles with an intuitive interface that adapts to its user. By using sticky notes, it was an efficient way to run through the different ways a young mom, for example, or an elderly person could interact with the operating system. Going through with this process showed us how the information architecture would make the most sense.
Wireframes and Visualization
Originally, we intended for Treehouse to be a strictly mobile solution - being used on personal mobile devices as well as government-funded iPads in library spaces. With affordability and government funding in mind, we continued moving further with mobile designs, but kept an open mind for further iterations.
As we digitized our sketches and started leaning more toward Mid-fidelity Wireframes, we started exploring further opportunity areas, and challenged ourselves to design for screens that haven’t been designed for yet.
Responsiveness is a crucial factor when considering how we would design our screens. Since Treehouse is an OS, compatible with any size screen, we designed with floating elements that could scale to any size imaginable, while still being comfortable to use and interact with.
Reviews and Insights
”What are the top elements for? Are they photos?”
”Search is in a weird position.”
”Is this a touch screen? Or is it more gesture based?”
The Treehouse Kiosk
The Treehouse Kiosk is designed and built by the community, using locally sourced materials. Not only does this provide jobs for the community, it also ensures the Kiosk design successfully represents the town it’s built in. The Kiosk is a central hub where individuals are able to comfortably locate a book, sign up for an event, find a mentor, and more. It’s is an interactive system that’s responsive to any size screen, and relies on Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Radio-frequency identification, Hand / Eye tracking to provide a seamless experience for the community as a whole. The kiosk also houses the treehouse glasses, an AR experience that allows users to interact with people, books and memories in a new and exciting way.
The beginning of something new.
The kiosk is where all users pick up their glasses and start their experience. Once they approach their profile appears and they can ask questions such as...
• I’m looking for a new read any suggestions?
• Are there any group meetups about starting a small business?
• I’m here for research, what books do you have on eskimos?
Treehouse then takes this information and curates the best possible experience for the user, giving them exactly what they need while expediting the process. The Treehouse Kiosk takes all of the stress off the Librarian, and allows her to role to change from being a desk assistant to being a community mentor.
Treehouse, being an OS, can be applied to any size screen: as small as a phone or laptop, and as big as a floor to ceiling wall.
Treehouse’s Major Features
Accessibility for All
Treehouse is adaptable to different ways of learning, age, height, and tastes. It uses location tracking and eye / hand sensors to break the mold of modern day education. The service can recognize the user through their device using IOT and makes it easy to share content across profiles for collaboration.
But wait, how would this work?
Libraries are funded significantly through local and municipal sources. Newer libraries are even exploring new areas for funding such as gift shops, cafes, bookstores, etc. All in all, the money’s there.
Most importantly, though, smaller libraries in rural towns are given the money to survive and thrive, and this is what makes Treehouse a possibility across the continental US.
Local Products / Implementation
One of our major insights led us in the direction of relationships and community. Smaller towns tend to buy local, and love forming a community together. This is why treehouse would provide the concept to towns, and installation would be done by the community. This creates jobs, forms relationships, and makes the introduction of Treehouse less intimidating for its users.
This responsive design can work on any size screen imaginable, making it affordable for libraries that only have room for 10 screens, and also for libraries that have room for 1,000 screens.
For libraries that don’t have the room for a floor to ceiling screen for interactive group events, they’re still able to provide the same experience by offering smaller screens throughout the space.
Treehouse itself is an OS that works on any size screen, so no matter what the Library’s budget is, Treehouse can work in any format and at any scale imaginable.
We want Treehouse to represent the community that builds it, so we’re offering them full realm to design and organize it any way they wish.
And what do experts think?
Gives access to education for all.
Facilitates friendships and connections within and beyond communities.
Sparks change and growth in community and gives people a space to share what they have to offer.
The Treehouse Kiosk - User Flow
Treehouse Kiosk - Greeting
Louis decides to go to his local library. With his phone in his pocket, Treehouse knows when Louis approaches the Kiosk through its wireless signal. He’s prompted with a small interface that organizes the information he may be looking for in 5 categories: Books, Groups, Community, Mentors, and Time Capsule.
Voice Command / Recommendations
Louis presses the voice command button and says he’s looking for some more info on blockchain investment. Treehouse takes that info and prompts him to choose from a category. When Louis taps books, he’s prompted with some books in the library that may be of interest to him.
Louis chooses a book and is prompted to pick up a pair of AR glasses provided by the Library. The glasses know what books or resources might be of interest to him, and provides Louis with a “real-life map” of curated books and directions on how to get to them.
AR Glasses - a new way to search
When Louis puts the glasses, he’s prompted with 5 books that may be of interest to him. This information was seamlessly transmitted from the Kiosk to the glasses without Louis having to input any additional information. The Glasses have two eye-tracking sensors that carefully analyze the direction in which you’re looking, as well as the duration.
Louis quickly reviews the books that he was recommended, and selects “The Industries of the Future” by looking towards the right and staring for a couple of seconds. After the progress bar on the bottom fills up completely, the glasses know to take Louis to that specific book.
The AR Glasses take Louis directly to the aisle where “The Industries of the Future” is located. Every book is inventoried with an RFID tag, immediately taking away the stress of searching for the book manually. The RFID tag lights up the book and places a detail screen next to it, allowing Louis to step into the aisle and find the book right away. Louis spends less time searching and more time learning.
Group Events - Eliza’s User Flow
Treehouse is usable for individuals, groups, and the community. For learners who have a passion but don’t have anyone to relate with in their town, treehouse connects like minded individuals to pursue their passions remotely.
As users continue to participate in groups through Treehouse, they’ll be given catered options for upcoming group events that may be of interest to them.
Community Time Capsule
The most important factor of Treehouse is that it successfully represents the community that uses it. The Kiosk, built by the community, houses the Community Time Capsule, a space where the people can come together and seamlessly add memories of their families and town to Treehouse, creating a free, everlasting history book for the community to look back on for years to come.
Using the AR glasses provided by Treehouse, users can bring in their personal photographs and seamlessly upload them to the Time Capsule without ever having to remove photos from scrapbooks. Eye tracking lets the user choose exactly which photo(s) they want to upload. The photos are automatically added to Treehouse’s Time Capsule.
Outcomes and Impacts
Towns are given a new, free community center.
Jobs are created to assemble Treehouse, work in Library and become mentors.
Small towns are connected using the Internet of Things.
New tech is brought into locations that are usually overlooked.
Promotes learning and problem solving through collaboration.
Decreases the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Connects individuals with mentors that can aid them in careers and life.
Creates a place for libraries to exist as hubs for learning and discovery.
Process // Behind the Scenes
What I Learned
Don’t settle with your first idea. My team members and I spent weeks brainstorming what topic we should tackle, and if we were to have settled on our first idea, Treehouse would’ve never come to life. The right idea will come. It won’t always come when you expect it, but you have to trust the process and trust that it will always work out in the end. We’re so incredibly proud of this project and thanks for taking the time to see our thought process, iterations, and concepts.